Hello, fellow property professionals and residents in the MultiFamily-family,

After hearing another distressing story of someone in our community who fell victim to assault while on a tour, I am reminded once again of the critical importance of putting safety first—always. These incidents can occur suddenly, not only to newer individuals in the industry but also to seasoned pros who may become complacent and let their guard down after countless trouble-free tours. While we diligently discuss leasing safety with newcomers, it’s essential that the conversation doesn’t end there. Why? Because, unfortunately, the attacks have not ceased. So, let’s start talking about it and remain vigilant during every tour and interaction.

It all begins with our instincts—the gut feeling that something might be off. Those moments when the hair on your arm stands up, and your heart starts pounding. In such situations, pay attention to what your instincts are telling you, while, of course, adhering to fair housing laws Gavin de Becker’s book, “The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence,” beautifully explains how our gut instincts can protect us from danger.
If you find yourself uncertain whether your instincts are overreacting, buddy up with a co-worker for added safety. Sometimes, having someone else present during the initial interview or tour can provide an extra layer of security and reassurance

To enhance safety further, consider implementing systems that keep others informed of your tour schedules. One solution is notifying maintenance of the unit you’re visiting, so they can stop by during the tour, introduce themselves to the prospect, and casually “check the furnace filter.” This simple action can deter potential attackers and provide you with added protection.

Throughout the tour, consistently follow the principle of “safety first.” Repeat this mantra out loud and in your head, “After you!” while indicating the direction you’ll be going with your hand, avoiding putting your back to the prospective resident as much as possible. I try to channel my best Vanna White “After You” I can muster! 🙂

During the tour, it’s essential to maintain visibility and keep the front door open. If there’s a deadbolt, turn it into the locked or out position. This way, if an attacker tries to slam the door shut, it will bounce back open, offering you an opportunity to escape or call for help. Additionally, it’s wise to carry deterrence items like pepper spray. One option is a discreet key ring pepper spray with a safety lock available at Walmart, capable of multiple uses.

Remember, having your phone with you during the tour is essential. Gone are the days when carrying a phone was discouraged; it’s now expected for safety reasons.

Modern smartphones have built-in safety features, such as ICE (In Case of Emergency) identification, special buttons for SOS, and GPS location tracking, even when the phone is off. Moreover, there are apps that can be installed on your device to dispatch help immediately, and some providers offer alternative equipment for teammates who may not have a phone or access to internet-enabled devices. Noonlight and Virtual Halo are personal safety apps that have check in capabilities as well as smart watch capabilities and both have a free account and very affordable Pro accounts starting at $1 a month. Don’t forget, most newer smart watches and phones have SOS and GPS tracking too.

As property professionals, it’s our responsibility to address safety and visibility concerns promptly. Overgrown trees, bushes, or poorly lit areas can create blind spots, making us vulnerable to attacks.

Enforce rules regarding loitering and unauthorized guests, as unsecured doors pose safety risks, allowing unauthorized visitors access to our properties at any time. Stay diligent, hold residents accountable and repair the broken knobs as soon as possible. One solution to consider is smart lock technology like Salto or my favorite, VIZpin, which have cut down on unauthorized guests considerably as well as deterring crime and giving Operators a record of who accessed, or gave access to the building, and at what day and time they gained access.

By taking these steps, we create a safer environment for everyone within our community.

Let’s prioritize safety and trust our instincts. By empowering ourselves with knowledge and vigilance, we can contribute to a safer leasing experience for everyone. Together, we can make our multi-family community a place where safety always comes first.

Stay safe and vigilant.

Smart Chick Megan

Check out The National Apartment Associations Leasing Safety Best Practices Here