o you as a Community Manager or Community Owner feel that you are sometimes helpless in fighting the battles of crime? Or that you shouldn’t have to be involved in the first place? Do you feel that your Residents should just abide by the terms of their leases, adhere to the Guidelines, pay rent on time, and smile when they see you?
And, at the same time, do you find yourself receiving calls from Residents who inform you of possible drug activity in the community? Or that there are other, perhaps gang-related activities taking place in your community? Even when you report it to the police, even with their help - - convictions are not always possible nor do court dates come quickly.
In the meantime, you and your Residents are "stuck" with an unsavory taste in your mouth; neighbors who are less than wanted, and the possibility of violence erupting at any time. The reputation of your community could be at stake. The values of individual homes as well as the entire property could suffer if this type of activity continues for an extended period of time.
What to do? How to address an issue that may not be addressed in your original lease with your Residents? How to protect yourself and your law-abiding Resident without repercussions? There may be a way. A recent issue of Professional Apartment Management magazine included an article on a lease addendum on security that cuts the risk of the crime victim’s lawsuit. In other words, an addendum that would offer some protection to the landlord.
This basic, three paragraph Acknowledgment of Security Policy has been reviewed and approved by MHI’s legal counsel. Briefly, it states that neither the Community Owner nor Community Manager have made any representations about the safety of the community. Further, it states that Residents acknowledge that their protection and safety is their sole responsibility. And, finally, the Residents acknowledge that there is no warranty or guarantee of the effectiveness of operability of security devices or measures.
That’s good news for a lot of folks. We as Community Managers have long been told not to guarantee or promise security. We have been encouraged to change the "security patrols" to "courtesy patrols" and to call the little building at the entrance to our gated communities an "information point" rather than a "guard house". Still, there is the requirement in marketing to satisfy the needs of our customers - - and many of our homeowners need to feel secure. They need the feeling of safety that comes with living in the neighborhoods we create within our communities.
This document may indeed offer us the way to provide just that. Some variation of a Neighborhood Watch Program is in effect in many communities, and has proved beneficial indeed in reducing crime, cleaning up the neighborhood, raising the self-esteem and pride of Residents, and significantly contributing to the increased desirability of the community overall.
Another widely used program is the Crime-Free Multi-Housing Program. That program advocates the use of a "Safe Streets" addendum to Rental Agreement. This document focuses on criminal activity related to drugs, substance abuse, and illegal gang activities. A totally different type of agreement than the Acknowledgment of Security Policy, yet perhaps just as needed in some areas.
Would these work for you? Would they work for your Residents? Would you receive greater protection from future lawsuits? Would your Residents feel a greater sense of safety knowing their neighbors were just as committed to living in a crime free neighborhood as they are?
If you’d like to peruse these two documents, or give them to your attorney to review for possible use in your community,
just let me know you are interested in the "Safe Streets" and "Acknowledgment of Security Policy" documents.
You may write to me,by email at [email protected]