3 Ways Property Managers Can Protect Themselves From Potentially Violent Tenants

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3 ways property managers can protect themselves from potentially violent tenants

What property managers and owners can learn from the shooting last year of two property managers in Portland following the eviction of a tenant.

By John Triplett

Rental Housing Journal

The two property managers who were shot by a tenant in their offices in Portland following an eviction late last year, are recovering and doing well according to a spokesman for the company.

The two managers for Guardian Real Estate Services, working at Portland's Cascadian Terrace Apartments developed by Community Development Partners,were shot and wounded by a tenant during an eviction due to behavioral issues in late December, according to reports.

Both managers, a 45-year-old man and 64-year-old woman, were treated for serious but not life-threatening injuries and are recovering, police said.

The evicted tenant is being held on attempted murder charges.

In terms of how the property managers are doing, Community Development Partners President, Kyle Paine, said, “They are recovering nicely. Out of respect for their privacy, I'm not at liberty to share any information. I can say that we all feel extremely fortunate that the incident was not more severe.” He declined to say if the managers had returned to work.

Rental Housing Journal asked Community Development Partners to share with other owners and property managers what they had learned from the event to help prevent such things in the future at other apartment complexes.  CDP is offering lessons learned and suggestions to other developers. Here are the answers provided by Community Development Partners:

1. What can property managers learn from this experience?

Unfortunately, a violent situation can happen anytime, anywhere.  In light of our experience, we believe it is important for property managers to be educated on the safety plan and procedures for their property, should a crisis happen.  They should also learn ways to alleviate a volatile situation. 

2. What can property managers do to better protect themselves?

Education is one key component.  Property managers can partner with local law enforcement and other appropriate community groups to learn ideas and create relationships.  Managers can invite law enforcement to present safety programming to educate both managers and tenants.  Some police departments even offer a safety certification upon completion of a safety program.  These groups are an invaluable asset in providing education and helping create a safe culture in the community.

Communication is also important.  Property managers should play their part in having open communication between, management, ownership and tenants.  The residents need to feel comfortable communicating with property managers if they observe any unsafe individuals or situations. 

There are also safety precautions that can be taken when an eviction has escalated.  Property managers should assess the reasons for an eviction, and consider whether there is an anger management component.

  • For example, a tenant not paying rent is often more of a financial problem.
  • However, if a tenant is being evicted for behavioral issues, there may be anger management and an ongoing threat.
  • Management may want to close their office for a time period after the eviction, or reduce hours and access for a period of time for the tenant to cool off.

Also, property managers should take advantage of available resources.  If there is a volatile eviction, it may be wise to use a professional service to help distance management from the situation.

It might also be wise to talk with the police if there is a concern of a threat. The police can escort the manager to the occupant’s unit to help ensure the manager’s safety.   If the tenant fails to vacate upon eviction, management can take advantage of a police lock-out.

3 ways property managers can protect themselves from potentially violent tenants

Photo copyright Kzenon via Canva

The police can escort the person off the property, and set a time for the person to come back and pick up their belongings when management can arrange for more security to be present.  These resources should be used carefully, however, as they can inflame a situation.

3. What can ownership do to help keep property managers safe?

Crisis Plan

One of the most important things that ownership should do is to create and implement a crisis plan for every property, and review with the management company.  The plan should also be reevaluated quarterly to address any new issues or information.

Design

For a newly built or renovated property, ownership should consider safety as part of the design.  “At Community Development Partners, we like to team with our management company in the design phase to take advantage of the safety features that they may desire or require.  We act as one team with our management companies, and together we create better communities that are more pleasurable and livable for our residents,” Paine said.  Ownership can also consider lighting and landscape design as part of environmental safety.  Landscaping can be designed to enhance site lines, and provide a deterrent for illegal activity.  There should also be ample lighting and windows for visibility in all corridors and public spaces, including trash rooms.

Technology

Other safety mechanisms that ownership can install include a fob system that allows tenants to only reach specific floors or areas of the property, and can be turned off in the case of a crisis or threat.  They can also install intercom systems and/or camera systems that can both document a threat and act as a deterrent.  Owners can also install an auto lock system for the main door, which allows management to lock/unlock the door from their desk.  There are also enhanced locking mechanisms which can be installed on windows for added safety.

About Community Development Partners

CDP develops and operates sustainable, life-enhancing affordable housing with a focus on long term community engagement. CDP is a leader of transformative change – responsible for creating life-enhancing affordable development projects that adhere to strict standards of environmentally, socially and economically responsible buildings and communities. Founded in 2012, CDP’s multi-disciplinary team is comprised of real estate development experts who contribute diverse backgrounds in both affordable and market-rate development. Our goal is to weave a sense of community into each of the projects completed. You can find out more about them here.

About Guardian Real Estate Services, LLC

Locally owned and operated out of Portland, Oregon for over 40 years, Guardian Real Estate Services has evolved into a leading management, development and investment firm in the Pacific Northwest. The company says it is defined by a deep commitment to the communities in which they invest. The company’s portfolio is comprised of over 180 communities consisting of 10,000 apartment residences throughout 90 cities in four states.

 

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