PROPERTY MANAGERS MAY BE HELD LIABLE FOR SECURITY & SAFETY OVERSIGHTS OF A PROPERTY
What are the responsibilities of a property manager with regard to providing a safe environment for tenants and visitors? They are more than most people think. Throughout the US and Canada, more and more civil suits are being brought against landlords and property managers for crimes that are committed on their properties or other incidents that occur as a result of security or safety oversights. As news has spread of various plaintiffs’ success in seeking damages in these premise liability cases, suits have skyrocketed. The continuous cycle of media coverage of this type of lawsuit has only fed this growth. Implementation of an electronic security system can not only prevent a crime from occurring in the first place, they can keep property managers from being found liable if a crime does occur.
The responsibility of property owners varies somewhat, depending on local laws, but in general, requires managers and landlords to provide adequate protection against intruders with ill intentions as well as against crimes committed by other tenants. For example, in Ontario, property managers are not only responsible for providing a “good state of repair and fit for habitation and for complying with health, safety, housing and maintenance standards” per the Residential Tenancies Act, they can be held responsible if security provided for the property is inadequate when taking surrounding environment and crime rate into consideration. Numerous examples of recent precedents are readily available throughout the US and Canada, with plaintiffs being awarded up to five million dollars in compensatory and punitive damages. Even if property owners maintain liability insurance, their portion of the damages can be significant and private business documents can be made public in court. Just a few examples of high profile cases in which the plaintiff was awarded substantial settlements include:
- In 2012, a security agency overseeing a pharmacy in Florida was found 75% negligent in the death of a pharmacist due to inadequate security measures. The judgment against the defendant totaled $5,876,809
- An apartment resident was awarded $1,826,000 when she was hurt escaping through a window after her apartment was entered by a fleeing felon. The jury found the property owner 80% negligent.
Preventing Liability Through Comprehensive Security
In Canada, 384,000 violent crime incidents were reported in 2013, the most recent year for which data is available, with total criminal complaints totaling 1.8 million, excluding traffic citations. In the US, the FBI record 1,163,146 violent crimes in 2013, along with an estimated 8,632,512 property crimes. These numbers underscore the potential for a crime to occur on any property and demonstrate the need for property managers to protect themselves against any liabilities that could result from criminal activity be either tenants or outside intruders.
Properties managers can prevent liability through the use of security systems that monitor activities in and around the perimeter of the property. By taking a proactive approach to safety, property managers can indemnify themselves not only in the eyes of the law, but in front of a jury should a civil suit be brought against the property owner. The quality of property and facility management security is also paramount to attracting responsible tenants and maintaining tenant low turnover, which adds to the health of the business. The solutions we offer provide a very attractive return on investment for customers of any size.
Integrated Property Management Security Solutions
Electronic security systems designed for property and facilities management security are available in many forms. With two decades of professional security experience, we are adept at developing custom solutions to fit a wide range of property types and sizes. Security measures including, alarms, access controls, and closed circuit cameras can be used independently, or combined to provide a robust property security solution.
Access control systems not only provide a way to allow employees and tenants inside the boundaries of a property while keeping intruders out, they allow property managers to track the times and locations that key cards were used. If there is an issue with someone who has been granted access to the property, the access control system can pinpoint who was present when the incident in question took place. Today’s access control systems are also convenient for the user. Contactless smart cards allow users to gain access without physically swiping their card, providing an optimal balance between security and ease of use.
Intruder alarms immediately alert the property manager or security team when an access point has been breached by an unauthorized entity. However, for an intruder alarm system to be effective, it should be continually monitored. For many property managers, the cost for an around the clock security team is not feasible. In addition to the hardware and installation of security systems, we offerreal-time monitoring and support to ensure that property managers obtain maximum benefit and ROI for their electronic security investment.
Closed circuit cameras can be invaluable as evidence in court, should a case ever be brought against the landlord or property owner. Nothing compares to physical evidence that property owner not only possessed, but maintained a monitoring system. CCTV systems can be designed to operate only during specific time periods or constantly, depending on the needs of the specific application. Not only do closed circuit systems deter crime by providing a physical monitoring presence, they can provide concrete proof that a property was adequately maintained in the case of other safety liability issues such as “slip and fall” type cases.
Finding a Reliable Security Partner
To prevent liability stemming from safety or security oversights, property managers and security teams should have a reliable security provider who can act as a partner in the ongoing security of the property in question. At Veridin, we can work with property managers or security consultants to develop a custom security solution that is tailored to fit the level of security required and budget of any application. We work with the most respected manufacturers of closed circuit cameras, access control systems, and alarm equipment in the industry to provide customers with the best service and security solutions available anywhere. From small commercial facilities to large apartment complexes, we have the expertise and security experience to protect property owners from incurring any damages in criminal or civil court.
To learn more about the possible liabilities that property managers could face due to inadequate security, and the ways we can help, contact us today.