Protecting Your Rental InvestmentRental properties present a unique challenge for law enforcement. The typical neighborhood watch approach to residents in single-family homes is not easily adapted to rental communities. In single-family homes, owners generally have a large cash investment in the purchase of their home. This motivates owners to a greater concern about crime in their neighborhoods. When crime rates rise, property values lower. An owner of a single-family home might also be looking at long term residency. Typically, homeowners have a thirty-year mortgage for their property. Home is where they come to each day and perhaps raise a family. There tends to be a lot of pride in ownership of their property. When crime problems begin to appear, owners are likely to organize some form of a neighborhood watch to protect the long-term interest of their family. In rental properties, the communities tend to be more transient. Most often, residents sign a year lease for rental property. This allows for an occupant to move more easily if they feel crime has reached a level they will not tolerate. It is easier to move away from crime than to confront it.
With these challenges and more facing the residents of the City of Merriam Woods, the City of Merriam Woods Police Department has developed the Safe Residence Program. The program’s concept was to take a multi-faceted approach to crime prevention. It is a unique coalition of police, property managers, and the resident. The program is an ongoing program, with a three-phase approach to addressing the challenges facing rental properties.
PHASE 1The first phase of the program is to educate and assist the landlord with the screening process of a potential tenant. Landlords are asked to screen a potential tenant using financial, criminal, and rental history.
PHASE 2The second phase of the program is to have a tenant sign a Lease Addendum. By signing this addendum, the tenant agrees not to participate in criminal activity or allow criminal activity in their residence.
PHASE 3The third phase of the program is cooperation between the landlord and the police. Each time a police officer is called to a property of a Safe Residence participant a Rental Property Incident Report is filled out and forwarded to the property manager. The property manager contacts the tenant and advises them they have violated their lease agreement. The property manager has the option to either start the eviction process or notify the tenant that any further violation will result in eviction.
BENEFITS• Increased property values• Less money lost due to failure to pay rent• Reduced repair and maintenance costs• Increased demand for their rental• More time for routine management and life as opposed to dealing with crises
COSTS OF DRUG ACTIVITYWhen drug criminals and other destructive tenants operate out of rental property, neighborhoods suffer, and landlords pay a high price. That price may include:• Decline in property values, particularly when the activity begins affecting the reputation of the neighborhood• Property damage arising from abuse, retaliation, or neglect• Fire resulting from manufacturing or growing operations• Civil penalties, including temporary closure of the property, or even property seizure, and loss of rent during the eviction and repair periods• Fear and frustration when dealing with dangerous and threatening tenants• Increased resentment and anger between neighbors and property managers
DECREASED EXPOSURE TO CIVIL LIABILITY• Improved safety for owners, managers, and tenants• Closer partnership with the police and other agencies• Reduced risk of crime and personal injury• Reduced police calls for service• Increased safety due to prevention A list of participating landlords will be kept by the City of Merriam Woods Police Department and can be distributed to the property management community.