Personal safety has been on the decline in the last 10 years according to Mercer Quality of Living research. Additionally, an LR Foundation study indicates that “almost two in five people in the USA feel less safe than they did five years ago.” This is an increase of 27% in 2019. More than half have said they were worried about violent crime and its impact on their own safety.
Therefore, security and safety must continue to be a high priority in the multifamily residential industry. This is especially true in today’s climate with the pandemic and the mass shootings that make the news too often.
What does this mean for multifamily residential properties? If they want their communities to thrive, it requires they take action to ensure the personal safety of residents. The location of the multifamily building does not matter. Crime happens everywhere regardless of a community’s socioeconomic status and crime reports.
Multifamily residential properties tend to be a target because they create more opportunities for criminals to commit crimes and get away with them. For example, catalytic converter theft is a huge problem. Crooks will head to the apartment parking lots to cut out as many as they can. They know residents won’t give them a second look because everyone does not know the names and faces of all the people who live in the building. They also watch for opportunities to enter the building.
6 Ways to Improve Multifamily Residential Security and Safety
What can the multifamily residential industry do to enhance personal safety? Here are the top six ways they can achieve that.
1. Develop a security plan
Even if you had a healthy budget for security, one person can create an opportunity for criminals. It can be as simple as letting an outsider piggyback into the building. That’s why people are an important element of security. The place to start is to create a multifamily residential property security plan.
It identifies current security options and potential vulnerabilities. It also documents the need to conduct training for employees and residents along with the frequency of the training. All new employees and residents should be trained as part of their onboarding and move-in process.
If residents or employees encounter a specific scenario, what should they do? The plan will describe multiple scenarios and the responses for each one. The security plan is not a one-and-done document. It’s a living document that needs to be revisited at least once a year.
2. Train staff and residents on security
Yes, the security plan documents the need to hold security training for residents and staffers. Still, training needs to be a separate item. That’s how critical it is to have it and to deliver it at least once a year. How do you educate residents when they have a variety of schedules? As you’ll see in the next two items, building a community and communicating with residents are also important factors.
Processes are only effective if people follow them. That’s why employees need to sign off on the training. They may also need training on the package management process. Package theft can be an issue in multifamily residential buildings. Fortunately, there are security solutions that can make package management and security easier for the employees. Nonetheless, they need to understand to manage security and packages.
One thing to cover in the training is to encourage residents to let employees know when they’re going to be out for more than a day. In fact, some states require residents to provide their travel plans to the property management team.
Ask everyone to report anything suspicious. Give them a way to contact property staff anonymously. Allowing them to remain anonymous increases the chances of their reporting it. Give them a way to add their name and contact information in case they do want to be contacted. Just be sure these are optional.
3. Nurture a community for residents
The best way to create and grow a community will depend on your residents. At the very least, you want to cultivate an online community. Anytime you bring in a new resident, let them know how to join the online community and receive regular communications. Residents keep different schedules and may not be able to make the in-person events.
Use the online community to share resources. These could be a list of restaurants that deliver to the building and professional services, such as pet walking and babysitting. The more resources you provide residents and the effort you put into the community the more likely residents feel like it’s a place to call home. That’s what makes them want to stay.
It’s also beneficial to host in-person events. This allows residents to get to know each other, which increases their chances of renewing their leases.
4. Prioritize communications
Like building a community, consistent communication helps the residents feel connected and informed. It’s possible you’ll rely on multiple communication methods. Some residents may prefer online communication while others want physical communication.
Another factor in communication is to encourage residents to provide feedback. How can you fix something or make it better if you don’t obtain feedback? Bad feedback is better than no feedback because you know what needs to change.
5. Install remote video surveillance
Employees can’t be everywhere on the property. Fortunately, remote video surveillance with cameras and monitoring helps deter theft and increases personal safety by taking a proactive approach to security. Live video surveillance adds multiple layers of security and safety. It can help avert crime and prevent damage.
To truly benefit from video surveillance, find one that incorporates monitoring with video analytics and human intelligence. The setup puts eyes on your property 24/7. The way this service works is that the monitoring company programs many scenarios. This could be a person approaching the building or the parking lot at 4 AM. As soon as the camera finds a match with its programmed scenarios, it alerts the trained monitoring operator who checks out the activity and responds as needed.
The security system often contains an onsite speaker function. This lets the monitoring operator warn the intruders without being on the property. Often, the audible warning compels the intruders to leave the property. If they ignore the speaker, then the operator can contact the emergency operator. They can track the suspects until the police arrive. The high-resolution video cameras may provide useful information to determine what happened and who did it.
Video surveillance does more than deter crime. It can watch out for flooding, safety hazards, and other problems. The sooner you spot something, the less damage there will be. If someone reports a problem days after it occurred, video analysts can search and analyze the video surveillance footage. They can send the video clip to your staff and anyone else who needs it, such as law enforcement and insurance companies.
6. Add an access control system
An access control system controls who can enter the building and specific areas. Multifamily residential properties tend to have common areas that are only open to residents. An access control system makes it easy to give residents access and then revoke them when they move out.
Video surveillance with remote monitoring bolster security with or without an access control system. However, implementing both technologies adds more layers to multifamily residential security. The more barriers you have, the harder it will be for crimes to occur.
Building a Safer and Secure Multifamily Residential Community
You have options to enhance your multifamily residential building’s safety and security. Other considerations include lighting and landscape design. Nonetheless, these six things will have the biggest impact on your property’s safety and security. As a bonus, they help reduce staff and resident turnover.
Be aware the multifamily residential industry has different security requirements than other industries. A good place to start in fortifying your security is to find companies that have experience in the multifamily residential industry.
Stealth Monitoring is one of those. When you work with us, our security experts can design a custom security plan for your property. We build the right-sized solution that can deliver what you need. Our clients have shared they’ve seen a return on their investment within months. If you already have video cameras, we can likely monitor those for you. We can also do system health checks to ensure they remain in working order.
The other advantage of working with us is that we have partnerships with law enforcement agencies across North America. They typically respond right away anytime we call in an emergency. That’s because we provide video verification, which confirms something is really happening and not a false alarm.
To learn more about multifamily residential security, check out this free Complete Guide to Securing Your Apartment Building. This guide lists options for securing your property to help protect your residents and staff. To learn more about video surveillance and access control, please contact us. Texas Private Security License Number: B14187.