When you live a quiet, comfortable life without much conflict or trouble, it’s easy to feel like the world is good and everything is fine. However, when you start to interact with people from all different walks of life, you’ll realize that not everyone has the same good intentions and peaceful mentality. Don’t let this make you pessimistic, but do be cautious and utilize smart safety and security.
As a landlord, you have to hope for the best while expecting the worst in every situation. From a safety and security perspective, this means being vigilant of who you’re interacting with and what risks you face in each situation.
Safety and security tips
1. Carefully Screen Tenants
As a rule of thumb, you always want to screen tenants as carefully as possible. While most landlords simply do this to make sure they’re getting someone who will pay their rent on time, it’s equally important to check into a prospective tenant’s background.
It’s illegal to run a background check on a tenant without first getting their signed consent, so make sure you do this on your application form. If your application doesn’t have verbiage that asks for consent, be sure to provide a separate release form.
2. Always Let Someone Know Where You Are
As a landlord, one of the riskiest parts of your job is that you often find yourself behind closed doors with people you don’t really know that well. Whether it’s a property showing, maintenance request, or complaint, you’re often dealing with people in one-on-one situations.
In order to protect your safety and best interests, you need to make sure at least one person knows where you are at all times (or at least has a schedule of your day’s events). If something were to ever happen to you, this will serve you well.
3. Trust Your Instincts
It’s really important that you trust your instincts. While the vast majority of your interactions with tenants and other people will be fine, listen to that little voice in your brain that tells you something isn’t right.
“Beware of those who knock on your door at strange hours, either late at night or early in the morning. Again, no matter who they say they are, ask them to make an appointment at a more reasonable time,” Lew Sichelman writes for the Los Angeles Times. “If someone says he can view your house only at this particular moment, don’t believe him.”
4. Be Smart With Showings
While most landlords will never encounter a problem with a property showing, you should still be on high alert. In order to avoid finding yourself in a compromising situation, heed the following advice:
- Only schedule showings during daylight hours.
- Always arrive before the prospective tenant and turn on all lights and open up all blinds. If there is a storm door, open up the inside door so that neighbors can see through the storm door.
- Try not to turn your back on a tenant when showing the property. Always keep the individual in front of you and don’t walk into a room first. This is a simple safety tactic that helps you stay more aware of your surroundings.
- Always try to schedule multiple showings back to back (and let them know you’re doing this). Not only is this efficient, but it ensures you aren’t alone for long.
5. Don’t Use Your Home Address
It’s best not to use your home address for communications with tenants and prospective tenants. If you need to collect rent, it’s best to use a P.O. box, drop box, or electronic deposit system.
6. Be Prepared to Defend Yourself
While it’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever be put in a position where you need to protect yourself from physical harm, for your personal security it’s important that you know how.
Some landlords find it empowering to take a self-defense class to learn the basics of fending off an attack. Others choose to use their second amendment rights to carry a concealed handgun. If you feel like either of these options will give you a sense of security, feel free to pursue them.
7. Know How to Deescalate Arguments
If you’re a landlord for long enough, you’ll occasionally find yourself in the middle of an argument with a tenant. These arguments typically have to do with rent payments, repair requests, or neighbor complaints. Either way, you need to know how to deescalate these arguments before they get too serious.
Arguments usually escalate because we let our emotional minds take over in a heated situation. While it can feel good to snap, yell, or say something snarky, it usually makes the argument worse.
“Try your best to ignore the emotional content of the other person’s argument (including personal insults or attacks) and focus on the core issue that requires working through toward a compromise or concession,” psychologist John M. Grohol suggests.
8. Don’t be Naïve
Finally, don’t be so naïve to think that everyone has your best interests in mind all of the time. While someone may seem kind, friendly, and safe, you have to remember that people are good at putting on an image.
Do you really know the tenant you’ve met twice and briefly communicate with once every couple of months? Probably not. Stay on guard, have smart security, and take everything people say or do with a grain of salt. You’re providing a place for a tenant to live. You aren’t called to be their best friend.
Green Residential: Professional Property Management
At Green Residential, it’s our goal to make your life as a Houston landlord easier, safer, and more profitable. We help you have a sense of security. Through our comprehensive property management services, we allow you to experience the rewards of being a landlord without having to be directly involved in all of the minor details and time-consuming tasks that so often turn people away from managing real estate.
For additional information on how we can help you achieve your real estate goals, please contact us at your earliest convenience. We’d be happy to offer you a comprehensive property evaluation.