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Neil Fjellestad's Blog


By Neil Fjellestad | Property Manager in San Diego County, CA

Safety is Primary Concern to Renters in Ocean Beach, CA

Ms. Management (Questions and Answers - Part 5)

I have asked my business partner Carol Levey who is a recognized national educator in the multihousing industry to share some of her professional management insights. She provides temporary leasing specialists to major apartment community operators, tailored training coursework to onsite personnel and consulting services to property management professionals across the country. She is one of the original team that produced the National Apartment Association course leading to the respected NALP designation. She produced "Let's Lease" - the first industry CBT (computer-based training). She writes for the Apartment Association of Metro Denver as Ms. Management. Neil  

Q – I was asked to shadow a leasing specialist at my community. I heard her say when asked about how safe the community is at night that she had lived here for 3 years and never had a problem. She went on to clarify that she would not nor could she guarantee anyone’s personal safety. I thought that was a pretty good way to put the customer at ease and still make sure that a disclaimer was included. What do you think?

A – Safety is the number one concern across the country. 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. However, 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 you are a representative that should know and therefore you speak 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 industry professional has been trained to avoid such statements. “Security” is a term that should be 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 that is comfortable due to daily contact with the property circumstances. However, logic dictates that no one can or should try to replace someone’s personal perceptions of security with their own.

Q – Okay then what would you suggest that doesn’t sound like an industry robot?

A - Here are some practical suggestions you can give to your potential renter-

·         Visit the community during the day, at night and on the weekend. Check out the parking and common areas. Walk the neighborhood. See what you think and feel.

·         Utilize a growing selection of public online resources that can often educate and create awareness about the neighborhood and the specific property address.

·         Listen to and follow advice of law enforcement professionals. 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.

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