Colin Kish: Dear Landlords, Safety Matters to Your Prospective Renters

by Katie Sloan

Many landlords focus on the big-ticket items when marketing their property, showing off amenities like the vast clubroom with the state-of-the-art fitness center, the resort-style swimming pool, or the model unit with stainless steel appliances and granite countertops. Often overlooked are the safety features your rental has, or maybe lacks. Normally, one of the top amenities renters look for is the safety of where they live.

Unlike a homeowner who can easily make upgrades, a renter has to primarily rely upon their landlord for safety features. After all, it is not likely that a tenant will add lighting to the community parking lot. Renters — and their parents — want to feel safe in their apartment. Keeping the tenants and the overall community secure should be at the forefront of every landlord’s mind.

Location is Important, but it is not Everything

Every landlord knows that location is an important factor when it comes to safety. Unfortunately, if you are in a bad location, you cannot move your property a few blocks to somewhere safer. Even being in a ‘safe’ neighborhood does not guarantee that your property will be crime free, especially near college campuses. Assaults, robberies and other crimes can happen anywhere, and often times student housing can be a target. Safe neighborhoods with young renters, who may not be as cautious about locking doors and windows as someone older, are still prone to criminal activity.

Highlight Your Property’s Safety Features

Even though safety is a top priority for most renters, many landlords overlook the value that security features offer to prospective tenants. In order to separate your property from the competition, highlight your property’s safety features on your website and on other marketing collateral pieces. How many property websites have you seen with a section dedicated to safety features? The best you will find on most websites is a brief one or two lines mentioned under community or apartment features.

Why is such an important amenity not given more priority by landlords? Well, you don’t want to overemphasize security too much, as it might give off the impression that the location is less than desirable. However, there are plenty of creative ways to highlight safety features without negatively affecting the property.

Safety is a Major Concern for Parents

Whether you are renting to college students or young millennials, chances are the parents will have some influence on where their child lives — especially if they are paying the rent. Parents have extra safety concerns when it comes to their children living on their own, unsupervised for the first time. Do you think parents care as much about the lagoon swimming pool and golf simulator as they do about restricted building access and on-site security? This is especially true for parents of female renters, who are more likely to pay a higher rent so that they can sleep well knowing their daughter is safe away from home.

A creative way to showcase apartment safety features is by having a section dedicated to parents. It can seem like a more natural place to list features like a well-lit parking lot, secured property access, common area security cameras and any on-site security hours. A FAQ section can further highlight security features. Making yourself available to answer any questions the parents may have regarding security is also a huge plus.

The Holy Grail of Building Safety: Developing a Strong Sense of Community

Installing proper lighting, security cameras and high tech key fobs will certainly help keep your residents safe. In addition to these physical features, there is another way to help promote safety among your residents. Renters, when compared to homeowners, share serious concerns about the safety of where they live. Most renters fail to take one of the most logical steps to help increase their security: getting to know other residents in their community.

A poll from PEMCO Insurance found that 50 percent of renters know less than one-quarter of the people who live nearby. On the other side, homeowners are twice as likely as renters to be acquainted with a majority of their neighbors. What can having your tenants know and interact with each other do for the overall security of your building? Studies show that building community through organized activities or even informal gatherings, leads to a stronger sense of security. Someone is more likely to watch out for their neighbor if they have some relationship with this person.

Colin Kish is vice president of strategic partnerships at uCribs, an apartment search engine designed for renters looking to live near college campuses throughout the country.

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