Rent Sense: Be Safe
By Neil Fjellestad and Chris De Marco
FBS Property Management
We want to feel safe where we live. Therefore we naturally inquire when we visit a potential rental home, condo or apartment, “How safe is it here?” What seems unnatural is when the answer to this inquiry is less than straightforward and even seems evasive. It can sound like there’s some awful secret that no one wants to reveal.
Consider these facts when confronted with this situation-
• Making such statements as, “I live here and have never had a problem”, or “This is a very safe place to live”, can be legally construed to create a false sense of security in the minds of existing and potential residents because this representative should know and therefore speaks as an authority.
• There have been legal references to such statements as a guarantee of personal safety when a resident has suffered a theft or worse. In some cases these references have sufficiently attached financial liability for a variety of incidences to the ownership and or management of the property. Examples include: burglary, break-in, theft, property loss or damage, harassment, assault and rape.
• As a consequence every rental owner is wary and every real estate professional has been trained to avoid such statements. “Security” is a term that is generally absent from any advertising or presentation.
• In addition, common sense tells us that “personal safety” is often a very subjective attitude. This attitude can govern routines and habits that might seem “risky” or “unnecessarily cautious” to others.
We might feel better with the assurances of an eager leasing specialist or a rental owner /manager that are comfortable due to daily contact with the property circumstances. However, logic dictates that no one can or should try to replace our personal perceptions of security with their own.
Here are some practical suggestions as you make rental decisions-
• Visit the property location during the day, at night and on the weekend. Check out the parking and common areas. Walk the neighborhood.
• Talk with existing residents, neighbors and service providers that might have an opinion and are not governed by the same professional requirements in place for rental owners, property managers and real estate agents.
• If there has been an incident, how was it handled and communicated?
• Utilize a growing selection of public online resources that can often educate and create awareness about the neighborhood and the specific property address. Here’s a place to start http://www.rentsenseblog.com/?p=84
• Listen to and follow advice of law enforcement professionals. Check with the local law enforcement jurisdiction. Ask about reported incidents and response times. Inquire about coverage by officers and neighborhood watch efforts.
• Now, with this research, determine how you think and feel.
Remember that maintaining an attitude that you are safe in your home and in your neighborhood is very important. This attitude spills over into your personal confidence, health and productivity. So, take some precautions and pay attention.