As a landlord, it’s easy to worry about a crime occurring at your property, especially if you own a property in an area where crime is common (like the Brooklyn Park area of Anne Arundel County).
Not only could your tenants feel unsafe or become injured if you fail to prevent crime – your property could become damaged during a break-in. On top of that, landlords are legally obligated to provide a safe environment for tenants to live in.
Keep reading to learn how you can help prevent crime in your property. That way, you can gain peace of mind, keep your tenants happy and safe, and protect yourself from liability.
How Landlords Can Prevent Crime at a Rental Property
Maintain the interior and exterior lighting
A well-lit property is a property that criminals will likely stay far away from because it doesn’t give them anywhere to hide.
Check in with your tenants to make sure that all exterior and interior lights are working properly. You might also want to drive past your property at night to analyze how well-lit it is.
If you think the lighting situation would allow a criminal to easily sneak into the property, consider adding additional exterior lighting. While it may require a significant upfront investment to purchase and install new lighting, it is well worth the peace of mind you and your tenants will gain knowing that criminals are likely to stay away.
Tip: Not sure where to purchase lighting for your Maryland property? Try The Home Depot in Anne Arundel County for cost-effective options.
Make sure all safety devices meet requirements
A faulty lock could make it easy for a criminal to enter your property. That’s why you must make sure all locks work properly for your tenants. You may even want to add a sliding chain lock to properties located in areas that have a high crime rate.
However, locks aren’t the only property features you should check to keep your tenants safe. Consider other features like door peepholes and smoke alarms – these should be added to your properties and repaired right away if they aren’t functioning properly.
Some counties even have special safety requirements for landlords. For example, Prince George’s County law requires landlords to add deadbolt locks to certain types of properties, and Baltimore County law requires landlords to install one direct-wired, electronically operated smoke detector in every unit.
Check your local laws to see what safety features are required and what crimes you could be held liable for before you place a tenant in your property.
Choose high-quality tenants and educate them
Sometimes, criminals aren’t strangers who try to break into your property. Tenants can just as easily commit crimes in and around your property if you don’t have a thorough tenant screening process in place that empowers you to pick high-quality tenants.
Once you’ve found a good tenant, let them know the importance of locking doors every night, turning exterior lights on, and taking other measures to prevent crime.
To protect yourself in case one of your tenants does commit a crime, require renter’s insurance and make sure you include a crime-free addendum in the lease and explain it to the tenant thoroughly. The addendum should clearly state that tenants are not allowed to engage in illegal activity in or near your property. That way, you can legally evict anyone who commits a crime in your property.
If the trees and shrubs around your property are tall and unkempt, burglars may be able to use them to remain unseen while sneaking into the property. On the other hand, a yard that is well-maintained won’t give burglars and other criminals any place to hide, making them far less likely to attempt entering the property.
That’s why it’s critical for you to trim hedges and bushes. You may even want to eliminate problem plants altogether.
If you don’t want to handle the landscaping yourself, hire a reputable contractor to take care of it for you. When you do this, make sure you let the contractor know that greenery should be trimmed in a way that will eliminate hiding places for criminals. That way, the job is handled to your standards.
Tip: Use Yelp to find local Anne Arundel County contractors who have been highly rated by other business owners.
Consider adding additional security features to your property
Here are a few ideas:
- Home security systems – A five-year Rutgers study showed that residential robberies decreased in an area as the number of home security systems increased. So, consider choosing a security system that requires the tenants to enter a code on a keypad near the door to enter the property. With these systems, you can be notified right away if someone breaks in or enters the wrong code too many times.
- Exterior cameras – For even more peace of mind, consider choosing a security system that allows you to monitor the property exterior remotely from a mobile device. That way, you can identify security threats and act fast to eliminate them.
- Small security robots – You can purchase a home security robot and tell your tenants to let the robot roam the inside of the property when they are away or sleeping. These robots activate a video feed when they detect motion, so they’re great for quickly identifying criminal activity inside your property.
If you don’t have the budget to add extra security features to your property right now, consider doing so as soon as you can afford it. In the meantime, you can purchase a fake security system sign or a “Beware of Dog” sign. Either sign could help discourage burglars and other criminals from entering the property.
Perform regular property inspections
You can’t stay informed about security issues in and around your property if you avoid inspecting it, so schedule multiple inspections per year.
Make sure you inform tenants ahead of time when you plan to enter the property. While this courtesy is not required by law in every Maryland county, it is a good way to promote a healthy tenant/landlord relationship by avoiding the confrontations that might occur if you show up unannounced.
Communicate openly with tenants
If your tenants don’t feel comfortable communicating with you, they might neglect to tell you about security issues at your property. This can be a major problem. After all, if you don’t know about security issues, you can’t work to prevent and eliminate them.
Keep the lines of communication open with all of your tenants and ask if they have any safety concerns that need to be addressed when you check in with them. If they express a concern, address it quickly to prevent worse problems down the road.
If you struggle to place high-quality tenants in your property and have dealt with crime as a result, consider partnering with Bay Management Group. Our tenant screening process allows us to find the best tenants for your properties, and we can even help you evict a tenant who is causing problems.
To learn more, contact our team today.