While showing vacant units to potential residents is part of the job, it can be pretty dangerous. Even if your leads have seemed only interested in the vacancy to this point, ultimately your lead is a stranger and you might not know their true intentions. Avoid a potentially dangerous situation by incorporating these practices into your showing routine, just in case.
Safety Tips for During the Tour
The time when you are likely most vulnerable (when you should be on your toes) is during the actual tour. Most of the time, not only are you alone, but many property managers walk ahead of the potential applicant when showing a vacancy. Lauren Boston, a writer for NAA’s magazine, Units, stresses that you should always maintain a safe distance between you and your lead. This means you should always walk next to or behind your lead so that if you get attacked, there’s enough space to react and escape. When in the vacancy, try to stay in the entry way and let your lead explore on their own. Never put yourself in a situation where the vacancy’s door can be closed or locked, or where you could be trapped in a small space like a bathroom or closet. To try and solve this, Additionally, during the tour you should be aware of how much personal information you’re giving away to your lead. It might seem like a given, but if you live on site, don’t tell your lead where your apartment is. While they might go on to become a resident later on, at the moment they’re a stranger and giving that information puts your safety at risk.
Have a Safety Device on You
It’s important that at the very least you have one safety device on you while showing vacancies to leads. That being said, while having pepper spray is a viable safety device, it can easily be turned against you. To be especially cautious, in addition to having safety devices (like pepper spray or mace), consider keeping a pocket-sized personal alarm. These devices can be put on your keychain and are typically disguised to look like car alarms. When pressed, it blasts a loud sound and can startle an attacker enough to give you time to make your escape. There are also products that allow you to make a 911 call with your panic button, but these typically have a monthly fee.
While it’s doubtful that an attacker or kidnapper will let you have your cell phone for long, safety apps are successful in situations where you can discretely use your phone like in an active shooter situation. One common one is the Red Panic Button app. This app sends out a call for help with your current location to your set emergency contacts through text, email, Facebook and Twitter message. Additionally, you can set it so that it takes only a few steps to activate. No matter what, your safety is paramount. That being said, it’s up to you to figure out what safety devices your most comfortable carrying around.
In-Office Safety Measures
Before showing a property, there are a lot of different things you can do to ward off potentially dangerous situations. First and foremost, you should always arrange showings during office hours, never at night. Additionally, request to hold their ID in your locked office until the tour is over. Having another team member around the office when meeting your leads will help ward off potential threats, however, if that’s not possible, notify your team members the lead’s name, the vacancy you’re showing, and the time. You can do this through text message, your current messaging system, or through a team messaging app like SLACK. If you’re alone in your office, it wouldn’t hurt to put on some music in the room next to yours to make it seem like another person is around.
Safety for Resident Managers
Your on site resident managers are great 24/7 tenant referees, but they put themselves at quite a lot of risk. Not only are they in contact with potential leads, but your residents themselves. While tenant screening allows you to make the best possible rental decision for your community, it just takes one bad action for a good resident to become a criminal, and your residents know exactly where your onsite staff live. Give your onsite staff some extra protection by providing them safety devices and self-defense classes or resources. There are plenty of YouTube videos and inexpensive local classes that you can recommend.
Although you certainly know how to think on your feet when it comes to rental questions with your applicants, it’s important to keep your personal safety in mind as well. No amount of safety preparedness is wasteful. While you’ll hopefully never be in a dangerous situation with a lead or resident, taking the time to be aware of how you present yourself and how much personal information you’re giving away is a good way to ward off potential dangerous situations. Carrying a safety device and taking self-defense classes reinforce that preventative training by giving you the power to do something if the need arises. It’s better to be prepared than not at all.
What safety policies does your management company have? How do you ensure you are safe during a showing? Let us know in the comments section below and be sure to subscribe.