Staying crime-free in rental housing

by Tom Simplot

Mar 7, 2014

Everyone wants to feel safe in their own home.

The Arizona Multihousing Association is a founding member of the Crime Free program in Arizona. Crime Free brings together police officers, property managers and residents to help ensure a safer community for residents.

In the first phase of the Crime Free certification, managers and maintenance supervisors attend an eight-hour training session with local police officers to learn tools to keep their residents and property safe. Property managers learn affordable methods to alter landscaping and outdoor areas to prevent crime from occurring on the property.

Managers also learn more about the resident screening and eviction processes to protect their residents. Ask your property manager whether they use Crime Free in their lease forms. Using that form alone makes it easier to keep the criminal element out of your apartment community.

During the second phase of the Crime Free program, a local officer inspects the property with the managers to make recommendations on physical updates. Officers will inspect landscaping maintenance, window and door locks and viewpoints, and outdoor lighting in parking areas, walkways and entrances.

Things as simple as keeping shrubs shorter and trees trimmed back can help ensure residents are able to see better during the day and night.

The last phase of the Crime Free certification, called Five Star, is direct engagement with residents. Managers are required to host "safety social" events in apartment communities to help educate residents on safety and crime prevention. The added benefit of having residents meet and get to know each other means that neighbors can watch out for one another.

Managers might bring in speakers to teach fire prevention or crime suppression. Some apartment communities host classes on CPR and pool safety to cyber bullying. Police officers attend these events.

If your community is not yet a certified Crime Free or Five Star community, ask your property manager to consider participating. When you are looking for a new apartment home, ask whether the community is a certified Crime Free or Five Star community, and whether it uses the Crime Free Lease Addendum. Together, we make our neighborhoods safer.

Tom Simplot is president and CEO, Arizona Multihousing Association, which represents rental housing providers in legislative, legal and regulatory matters.