PROPERTY MANAGERS ARE FACING A BIG CONCERN for what’s most important, the security guard or the maintenance man
“It has been a common concern for property managers; We sat down with Monica Reis at Lake View Apartment Homes to discuss trends and ongoing issues that are related to choosing what matters most when managing apartment complexes.”
Property management companies are being held accountable for implementing unique strategies when it comes to maintaining the safety and appearance of their property.
Renters make things complicated when they refuse to understand their role in keeping the property up. The tenants can assist with preventative measures to help sustain a safe environment:
- Be vigilant
- Report criminal activity as it happens
- Get to know their neighbors
- Get involved with the community
- Be careful who you invite to the property
When budget is a factor at your property; safety and security may not be the main focus.
The onsite maintenance crew usually partner up with the property manager to help handle security concerns. We don’t suggest this because taking your maintenance man off task can run you over your budget.
We listed a few things that tenants can do to help reduce maintenance requests:
- Use preventative action
- Supervising children and guests while at your home
- If you break it, you fix it
- Refrain from doing things that you wouldn’t do if you were the owner
There is a thin line between the tenant and the vendors in the community. Applicants looking forward to leasing should be made aware of the expectation of being responsible for assisting with security measures and maintaining the cleanliness of the place they will call home.
Due to inconsistency in the renting market, the increase in the cost of living, and budgeting for the security guard and the maintenance man, we met with Monica to get an inside scoop on how she’s able to still meet goals and the expectations of potential renters. Check out her answers to the interview questions:
What have you seen lately with the behavior of the applicants?
I entered the industry in 2008, the beginning was the easiest year of my career. People were easy to deal with and had a clear understanding of what they were looking for. I believe they were able to put more thought into their renting decisions. Now people are making rational decisions because of the economy.
“People hear the word recession, and they begin to panic without critically thinking about the future.”
I’ve also seen an increase in people who are homeowners looking to either downsize or reduce their expenses and have now foreclosed on their homes and looking to relocate to Apartment homes. This is great but this group of people doesn’t seem to understand their responsibilities when it comes to maintenance requests.
A person that was once a homeowner purposely moves into an apartment because of the freedom to not have to keep up with repairs. They highly expect their property will be safe and secure; so, they look to us to have a structured security plan.
What could be challenging with the new trend you’re seeing?
The trend is interesting, it’s handing me something new every day! I’ve been a property manager for an 800-unit complex; it could be overwhelming at times, but you have to show up with positive energy. It’s hard to get across that this is a community, and everyone plays a vital part in the safety and appearance of the property. People are more stuck to themselves and do not take accountability for their visitors and the lack of concern they contribute to the community.
When I first got started, everyone looked out for one another if someone was gone for work, the neighbors would look after their apartment. If the tenant had visitors, they would pick up trash after them. Tenants cared about overcrowded balconies because they knew the curb appeal played a factor in who was attracted to the complex. Security was our top concern back then.
We made a budget for the two and implemented the budget based on what the community could afford. There is a disconnect in regard to the community, understanding the value of having a security guard on property, patrolling, and managing security issues. There’s also some confusion as to what the maintenance man is for.
To simplify my answer; with the budget we have and the behavior of renters, it’s getting harder to meet my boss’s expectations. The challenges are unpredictable, the residents are all for themselves and continuously drop all their responsibilities off at the leasing office.
You’ve been in the industry for a while, did you see the changes coming?
Of course, not I don’t think anyone has seen it coming. On March 11, 2020, the world health organization declare COVID-19, which was considered the start of the pandemic across the world. Many business owners were faced with obligatory challenges. There are changes that have taken place within the multi-residential industry, which tenants are having a hard time adapting to. One main challenge is budget and putting priorities in place to maintain property value and safety.
Crime continues to linger around; no matter of the economic trend, we will always face criminal issues. The communities are continuously put up for a challenge, especially when a tenant is debating whether they should pay their rent. The management team of the community should be put on a high pedestal with a dedicated support team that includes security personnel. This action plan would help the community be a haven. If we have the community in order, we can then influence renters to help keep down maintenance-related costs.
How did you get your manager to take your advice on putting security before maintenance?
To be honest, security is a part of property management. It’s the hardest topic to address, because leaders have a bias, and they lack the experience of tenants being aggressive or defensive. Leaders don’t know how it feels to deal with frustration from tenants when their vehicle was broken into overnight. I’ve declined opportunities because management would not approve the decision to hire a security contractor.
I am firm during my first interview; I give a hint that I only work with companies with a security action plan in place. What’s very helpful is explaining some scenarios like when I was held at gunpoint because my manager requested, we stamp 3-day notices on the tenant’s doors on the third day.
I will always give scenarios of what a security guard can do in the presence of the property. Tenants are more likely to cooperate and appreciate the contribution that the security provider delivers when there’s a guard onsite. When applicants are apartment hunting, they are more likely to choose a property with security service.
During board meetings, I would consistently vote for the presence of at least one security guard for eight hours a day. Each time I would debate about security service; the biggest challenge would always be thrown to the forefront, budget.
What is impactful about putting security first?
Currently, there are communities reducing their qualifications to meet their occupancy goals. I am sure most are experienced applicants from different walks of life with different backgrounds. Some communities are beginning to accept criminals and allow tenants to have family stays without being registered.
If we stick to my beliefs from when I first got started, security first. If you allow criminals to live within a community wouldn’t be a major concern. The problem arises when you put security last and put top focus on maintenance, then allow criminals into the community. Maintenance is not trained to handle ranting people or people who are out of control.
If you have an action plan for safety on the property, you can lease it to different groups of people and you can create a diverse community. As a property manager, I noticed that my colleagues and other professionals in the industry rely heavily on the local police department. No matter which apartment complex I managed I would always reach out to a security provider who would be dedicated to helping me maintain the criminal activity on the property unless it was an emergency occurring at the given moment.
What advice can you give someone who is new to being a Property Manager?
I am a part of several apartment associations within the state. There are usually mentors who assist leasing agents and property managers who are new or seeking resources. Here are a few things I usually suggest you focus on:
Attend Management Meetings
These meetings can help you address your concerns and get a full understanding of what the higher management team expectations are, and how they align with your skills of managing the property.
Inform your boss that security is your top priority, and a part of your expertise is always partnering up with a local security provider. If you need a security guard or patrol; based on the contract, you can give them a call and they would send someone out to your location to help with any safety issues that may occur.
Create a safety program amongst the residents who live in the complex. Assign roles that can enable crime watchers. Implement monthly meetings to help manage security problems. Also, invite the local police department.
It’s very important to know the type of people your community attracts. Always run thorough background checks and credit checks. If you intend to make exceptions for applicants with a criminal record, always make boundaries and non-negotiables as to what charges are not accepted.
Understand the challenges your property is up against. You can reach out to a local security provider to perform an annual property analysis that will help you determine your potential risk.
Befriend Your Management and Co-workers
Always have an open line of communication with the personnel, and make sure the relationship is always in good standing. You can then pitch what’s important to you to help manage the community sufficiently.
Wow, Monica! We want to thank you for your time and thank you for allowing us to interview you. Your responses, resources, and wisdom I’m sure can help a fellow Property Manager or others who are in the leasing business. Someone could be currently struggling with choosing between the two: the security guard or the maintenance man. Based on what we learned with you today, always put security first because security helps maintain and manage the property. The maintenance man is not skilled to help with the security concerns and has his own list of tasks. Also, be sure to do your research on the security provider to ensure they will meet your expectations.