Security is of paramount importance in apartment complexes, where residents seek a safe and peaceful living environment. By implementing proactive measures, apartment complex management can significantly improve security and provide residents with a greater sense of safety.
Among the many day-to-day issues an apartment manager has to deal with, there is one that can be pretty uncomfortable and even intimidating: property crime. With this type of crime, perpetrators target denser, contained communities of people as opposed to communities that are wider-spaced and less contained – such as suburbs and similar house-based communities. This is a big concern because property crime can cost you a lot of money – not to mention endanger the safety of your residents.
As frightening as this sounds, there is good news: property crime in the country these days isn’t as bad as it was twenty years ago. More than ever, measures are being taken to safeguard rental communities from theft and crime, and some of these measures may be simpler than you think.
Physical Security Measures
- Secure Perimeter: Establishing a robust perimeter security system is crucial. This includes installing sturdy fencing, well-maintained gates, and controlled access points. Implementing access control measures, such as key cards or biometric systems, ensures that only authorized individuals can enter the premises.
- Adequate Lighting: Well-lit areas act as a deterrent to criminal activities. Installing bright and energy-efficient lighting throughout common areas, parking lots, and walkways minimizes blind spots and enhances visibility, reducing the likelihood of criminal incidents.
- Surveillance Systems: Deploying a comprehensive surveillance system with strategically placed cameras can deter potential criminals and provide valuable evidence in the event of an incident. Real-time monitoring of the surveillance feeds can be outsourced to professional security services for prompt response and effective incident management.
- Security Personnel: Trained security personnel should be present at the entrance and patrolling the premises to monitor activities, enforce regulations, and promptly respond to any security concerns. Their presence helps deter criminals and provides reassurance to residents.
- Access Control Systems: Implementing advanced access control systems, such as electronic key cards or biometric scanners, adds an extra layer of security. These systems track entry and exit times, restrict access to specific areas, and enable quick deactivation of lost or stolen cards or codes.
- Intercoms and Video Entry Systems: Installing intercoms and video entry systems at the entrance allows residents to verify visitors before granting them access. This helps prevent unauthorized individuals from entering the complex and provides an added sense of security for residents.
- Alarm Systems: Installing burglar alarms and fire detection systems ensures prompt alerts in case of emergencies. These systems can be connected to a centralized monitoring station or directly linked to emergency services to minimize response times and mitigate potential risks.
Community Engagement and Cooperation
- Neighborhood Watch Programs: Encouraging residents to participate in neighborhood watch programs fosters a strong sense of community and collective responsibility. Regular meetings and training sessions can educate residents about identifying suspicious activities, reporting incidents, and implementing basic safety measures.
- Communication Channels: Establishing effective communication channels, such as community forums or social media groups, enables residents to stay informed about security updates, share concerns, and report suspicious activities. This improves overall vigilance and facilitates a timely response to security issues.
- Resident Education: Conducting workshops or seminars on personal safety, emergency preparedness, and crime prevention empowers residents with knowledge and equips them to take necessary precautions. Providing informational resources, such as brochures or pamphlets, can serve as reminders and references for residents.
Added Tips for Securing Apartment Premises
If you are an apartment manager who is concerned about the well-being of your renters and staff, here are a few extra tips to help you keep crime out of your complex.
- Make sure that your staff are easily identifiable.
Property criminals have been known to pass themselves off as maintenance workers or property staff to trick tenants. To prevent this, make sure that your staff are always wearing uniforms and carrying photo ID when on duty. The more your team stands out to tenants, the harder it will be for criminals to impersonate them.
- Screen your tenants and your staff.
An alert apartment manager should be conducting checks, not only on their residents, but also on the people they employ. This process can help you find out who could be a potential security risk – whether they work for you or rent from you. For tenants, doing this can function as an extra safeguard to help them feel safer under your watch. Not to mention, it could save you some headache down the road.
- Stay current on your security systems.
No matter how comprehensive or up-to-date your security system is, it is not foolproof. Schedule regular checks of your monitoring devices, locks, lighting and other equipment to be sure that everything is tight and functional. It is also a good idea to look for any possible weak spots or workarounds that a potential thief can use to circumvent your security measures.
- Keep your eyes open.
Know what to look for to spot suspects. Are there any strangers that seem to hang around just outside of your complex on a regular basis? Do you get unfamiliar people who come by, claiming to be friends of one of your tenants – but your residents are not familiar with them?These are signs that you may be getting sized up by property thieves. Be on the watch for anything suspicious or out of place. Just remember to always be courteous and non-forthcoming. You don’t want to make false assumptions that make the community seem unwelcoming.
- Inform your residents.
Your tenants can be an effective crime deterrent if they are educated and alert about crime. Provide them with security tips such as keeping their doors locked and keeping valuables out of sight. Encourage them to watch for suspicious activity and to report this at first sight. Property criminals use infiltration as one of their most potent strategies – take this advantage away from them by keeping your tenants in the know.
Natural disasters or public health emergencies may be far and few between but when they happen, apartment complexes must take several measures to ensure the safety and well-being of their residents. For instance, when there is a threat of hazardous materials somehow getting into a property, apartment managers may find themselves dealing with a shelter in place scenario.
Shelter in place orders typically mean that your residents need to take shelter someplace where there is very little ventilation and few windows. A shelter in place order may happen as the result of a bomb threat, chemical or other environmental leaks that can be hazardous to a community on the whole.
When this happens in an emergency situation, anyone who owns or manages multifamily properties has to comply. Doing so may also mean allowing people to take refuge on your property. There are certain legal obligations that all property owners should be aware of and it’s also a good idea to have a section of your rental handbook that addresses such a situation.
You’ll hear about a shelter in place order via the internet, television, or on the radio. These orders usually do not last very long and often, they are just a precautionary measure. But when they happen, they should be treated as an actual emergency and taken seriously. Always be sure those orders come from someone in a place of authority to do so and never rely on something from hearsay.
Shelter in place orders are a fairly rare occurrence, but they are one of those things apartment managers need to know about and have a fairly well established plan that everyone’s aware of.
Security starts with you
Apartment owners and managers have a duty of care to provide a safe and secure environment for their residents. Inadequate security measures can make them liable for any harm that occurs on the premises.
By adopting a holistic approach that combines physical security measures, technological solutions, and community engagement, apartment complexes can significantly enhance security and create a safe living environment for residents. Prioritizing the implementation of such measures demonstrates a commitment to residents’ well-being and fosters a sense of trust and peace of mind.
Through collaboration between management, residents, and security professionals, apartment complexes can effectively deter potential threats, respond swiftly to incidents, and ensure a secure and comfortable living experience for all.