Apartment security service has become an increasingly important amenity as renters who saw home as an escape now look for a refuge. The COVID pandemic, the economic downturn and civil unrest all give security a bigger role in their apartment choice. In fact, in a recent survey of renters conducted by Assurant, more than half—54%—said they would pay higher rent for a property that includes a connected security device. By extension, their family’s safety plays a bigger role in the decision to move or extend a lease, making security service a vital consideration for property owners striving to keep their multifamily properties at optimum capacity.

Property managers are beginning to recognize that apartment security is now a major factor across neighborhoods in what tenants are willing to pay. The Priceonomics blog calculates that simply providing a doorman raises rents by $260 a month. In some cities, rent drivers include elevator and in-unit washer-dryers, amenities that combine safety, security and convenience. Nearly everywhere, there’s a price to be paid in lack of housing and apartment security: It’s one factor that allows tenants to break their lease.

Strategically deployed, physical security guards, mobile patrols and video surveillance systems definitely bolster apartment and building security, while proper protections for common areas and apartment units give building owners a marketing advantage in attracting and retaining tenants. Consider these five action steps to make multifamily properties safer, more attractive places to live:

  1. Secure apartment security access points

    • All doors, gates and entrances to the property—including stairways, elevators, garages and storage areas—are security threats that must be regularly checked. But property managers can do more to improve tenant safety and reduce property crime. A security service will offer valuable input on access point vulnerabilities that property managers either miss or haven’t been trained to spot. They can also point out obsolete technology and physical deterrents that criminals have learned how to defeat.
  1. Perform a security services audit

    • In 2019, the FBI’s most recent crime survey counted roughly 7 million property crime offenses, resulting in estimated losses of $15.8 billion. In making sure that a multifamily unit doesn’t contribute to future statistics, security companies that perform a housing security audit can appraise areas for safety hazards such as poor sightlines or lighting.
    • A security service also can evaluate security systems, whether they involve new or legacy technology. Security audits should also account for the presence or lack of physical security systems. The checklist should include working deadbolt locks on all unit doors; secured sliding doors, windows and outdoor railings; and measures to prevent property theft.
  1. Use foot and mobile patrols

    • Consistent foot and mobile patrol security, along with the physical presence of security guards—especially when communicated through posture and body stance—can send a powerful message of deterrence. Security guard companies that work closely with local police and emergency services deliver an added degree of response coordination and effectiveness when incidents occur.
    • A mobile security patrol involves much more than putting an officer in a car. Coordinated with a physical security guard foot patrol, vehicle patrol services provide valuable backup when needed and extra sets of eyes to spot trouble before it starts.
  1. Prepare for security emergencies

    • A robust incident response plan is essential for every building owner and property manager looking to maintain effective apartment security. The National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) has a comprehensive guide for property managers that covers planning for all manner of security threats, from cyberattacks to natural disasters. “Having a written plan in place will help organize and streamline the incident response process,” the NMHC states. “The incident response players must have clarity on roles, responsibilities and authority during an incident.”
    • Communication ranks among the most crucial factors to consider. Incident response depends on the ability to engage tenants, property managers, public safety officials and security guards in a timely, clear manner.
  1. Implement apartment security education

    • Tenants empowered to take a proactive role in building and apartment security will make the work of security guard services and mobile patrols easier. Make sure they are familiar with vestibule/buzzer system safety and know how to secure their units for theft prevention. Check in to make sure they are familiar with security service emergency procedures and know the right measures to take for personal protection.
    • It is also essential to enlist security officers who residents come to know and trust. Hiring someone who comes from the community represents an important first step. Security employees who work where they live find more acceptance and less resistance from the people they serve.

From there, an ongoing dialogue between a security guard and tenants helps to ensure that safety education continues. Security service presence is always important, but when multifamily residents embrace security guard services and security officers as part of their community, it translates into peace of mind, solid bonds and a sense that they’re living in the just the right place: your place.