The Most Common Crimes on Multifamily Properties
People want to feel safe, especially where they live. That’s true for multifamily properties like apartments, too. They want to park their car in a lot and not wake up to discover that someone stole its wheels, airbag, or catalytic converter during the night. On top of that, they need to know they can walk from that lot to their door without being bothered. Once inside their unit, they hope to sleep without fear that someone will break in. Myriad multifamily crimes could lurk unseen… unless someone prevents them.
For those reasons, multifamily building managers must create comprehensive building security plans. The goal: Deter criminals and provide a sense of safety for your tenants.
Let’s start with a quick outline of the common multifamily crimes that apartment dwellers may encounter.
Top Multifamily Crimes: 7 Major Threats to Resident Safety
To ensure your building looks and feels like a safe place to live to potential tenants, you’ll want to counteract the most common threats.
- Illegal entry: This includes any form of gate hopping, unauthorized access, or trespassing on your building or surrounding amenities. Even if it’s just a case of teenagers climbing the fence to use the pool, you should step in. For your tenants, seeing people they don’t recognize and who don’t appear to be guests is rightfully concerning.
- Drug activity: Whether it’s illegal drug sales or use, having it on the property introduces a lot of risk. For example, residents could be in danger should a drug deal turn violent. Plus, any drug paraphernalia in shared spaces is an immediate red flag for potential renters.
- Gang activity: Similarly, gang activity increases the likelihood that residents will get caught up in a conflict. Plus, it introduces a greater likelihood of other common multifamily crimes like vandalism and trespassing.
- Theft: This goes beyond someone breaking into a unit and stealing the belongings inside. It also includes package theft, vehicle theft, and vehicle parts theft. If your property has a reputation for theft, it’s an immediate steer-clear for potential renters. Also, a break-in is one of the fastest impetuses for someone to pack up and move elsewhere.
- Domestic violence: With domestic violence, it’s much harder for property managers to put a stop to it. However, fostering community and providing a safe, anonymous way for residents to report incidents can go a long way. You can also provide a way for victims to escape a hazardous situation, such as early lease termination. (This is required by multifamily security laws in some states.)
- Vandalism: Destruction of property not only makes your building look worse, but it can also make it hazardous for residents—think missing handrails or broken glass. If a resident gets injured or if vandals damage the resident’s private property on your watch, you could be liable.
- General Disturbances: True, this is the tamest threat on the list, but don’t take it lightly. Loud music, parties, and regular nuisances in shared spaces all cause headaches for residents. If they become commonplace, people will move out. Have rules and penalties in place for these types of disturbances and follow through.
The Most Common Security Lapses
It may go without saying, but effective property management is a considerable threat deterrent. Criminals preferentially target unmanaged properties—in part, because they know they are more likely to have lax security.
To ensure your property is safe from these threats, develop a comprehensive security plan that spells out:
- Threat and emergency response training for staff
- Security procedures and checklists
- Resident responsibilities
- Mail and package delivery practices
- Fire and safety systems
- Security devices and coverage areas
- Contact details for relevant individuals
- Incident reporting procedures
If possible, investigate ways to build community among your residents. This might be as simple as forming a community watch group where folks look out for suspicious activity.
Top Multifamily Security Must-Haves
As you create your security plan, consider including the latest security options for your property. Visible security measures do more than deter crime. They also help residents to feel safe. According to research by the insurance company Assurant, 54% of tenants would pay more in rent if the price hike came with added security. With that in mind, consider making these security upgrades.
Improved door and window locks. Primary locks should meet the ANSI grade of 1 or 2. Secondary deadbolt style locks should be grade 1 and include a bolt at least an inch long. To make it easy to change locks from one tenant to the next, consider investing in keypads, landlord locks, or easily re-keyed locks.
Modern lighting. Install lighting in all common areas, including walkways, entrances, parking areas, elevators, hallways, stairways, laundry rooms, and storage areas. For units, consider installing smart lighting that lets tenants turn lights on and off via a smartphone app.
High-speed networked internet. Services like Boingo (among others) allow you to network your complex’s many app-run features, including smart lighting, leak detectors, and more.
An upgraded security system. Ideally, choose a system with next-gen security cameras, which offer many features not available in older or simpler models. These features include:
- High-definition color night vision that captures a clear picture in low and no-light environments.
- Artificial intelligence that distinguishes between a human intruder and the everyday activities of apartment life. When AI cameras detect a threat, they can stream the video feed to a human via high-speed internet within seconds.
- 2-way audio that allows you (or a hired guard) to talk directly to the people on camera.
- Live security camera monitoring so authorities are alerted, in seconds, to illegal activity.
The Benefits of Enhanced Security
Now that we’ve addressed what should go into your multifamily property security plan, let’s address the why—because your security plan will do more than help the cops catch the bad guys.
Enhanced, thoughtful security also boosts your bottom line in the following ways.
#1. Fewer vacancies. In this high-tech world, sweeping crime under the rug is impossible. Before handing over a deposit, potential renters often check apps and sites like SpotCrime. These sites allow them to look up crime data for a city, county, or even a specific neighborhood or apartment complex. As a result, crime directly affects your vacancy rate. As violent crime increases, vacancies go up, and rents go down.
#2. Greater sense of safety for residents. People want to live where they feel safe. Yet more people than ever feel less safe today than five years ago, according to a Gallup poll. Crime was the second greatest risk people cited after vehicle accidents.
#3. Less staff turnover. In addition to feeling safer for tenants, buildings with multi-family residential security solutions feel safer for staff, too. When staff feel valued, they’re more likely to stay.
#4. Reduced insurance rates. Crime does more than affect your ability to rent apartments. It can also devalue your entire property and drive up insurance rates.
#5. Fewer police interactions. Tenants will sometimes call the cops on one another when nothing’s genuinely wrong. That’s because that feeling of not being safe causes them to suspect wrongdoing even when it’s not present. By installing systems that create a sense of safety, you’ll cut back on some of these calls.
Invest in Strong Security to Prevent Multifamily Crimes
Upgraded security does a lot more than merely deter crime. It’s a key ingredient to making tenants feel safe. Though modern technology comes with a cost, it also saves you money in the long run. In other words, it’s an investment that, over time, pays for itself.
Modern multi-family residential security solutions like Deep Sentinel’s live-monitored surveillance systems go a long way to keep your residents safe. Take the first step and call 833.983.6006 to get started.