As a landlord, you know that renting your units involves taking on some risk and liability. But when the unthinkable occurs and a criminal incident occurs in your unit, how should you handle it? Here are five steps to take.
1. Opt for Safety First
The most important thing to do for your tenants and anyone around your unit is to make sure everyone is safe. If the crime was recent, check that all parties are out of the unit, that pets have been removed to a safe location, and that neighbors are aware of what's going on. Call emergency services and wait in a safe area.
Avoid the temptation to get too involved if you have a lingering crime scene or evidence. Crime scenes can have toxic materials, dangerous fluids, broken glass, and weapons or explosive material. In addition, you could hinder an investigation if you make any well-meaning changes.
2. Work With Police
After the police have done their initial work, they will likely have to do more investigation, reporting, and follow up. Be open, honest, and available to help them get their job done faster. You may also want to contact your attorney to determine what liability you have as the building's owner and how to protect your business' interests.
While closing up your rental unit does represent lost income, you should allow everyone to do what they need to do. If you have any questions, ask police before allowing the tenants back inside or removing items - even if the belongings seem unrelated.
3. Talk With Insurance
After the authorities, your next call is probably to your insurance agent. The insurer will want a copy of any police reports, so you should get those for yourself. The insurers also likely will need photographic evidence of the incident and any damage to belongings or covered property.
Locate any documentation of the value or condition of the involved property. If someone took or damaged some of your tenant's belongings, have your tenant contact their rental insurance agent at the same time.
4. Hire a Cleaning Service
After the police and insurance perform their investigation, begin cleaning up the damage. Before you head in with a broom and mop, assess whether you need a professional cleaning service. A simple broken window or picked lock might call for a basic cleanup with a broom and dustpan, but more serious issues need more serious repairs.
What kind of situations warrant a professional service? Any indication of blood, tissue, body parts, decomposition, or bodily fluids is a good example. These are all biohazards that carry pathogens that cause serious disease, so treat them with extreme caution.
In addition, signs of toxic materials like poisons, chemicals, drug paraphernalia, or even unknown substances can be dangerous to cleaners. Crime scene cleanup services will root out all the hidden damage, including in fabrics, flooring, and ambient air.
5. Take New Precautions
After getting rid of what's left after the crime, look at your unit's security precautions to decide what to do in the future. Many landlords follow up by boosting physical security by rekeying the unit with new door and window locks or adding an alarm system.
Other actions to take include trimming landscape barriers, adding motion sensor outdoor lighting, and hiring a security service to do extra patrols. Depending on the circumstances, you may also want to increase background and reference checks on future tenants.
Dealing with the aftermath of a crime involving your business is hard both emotionally and financially. But with professionals like the crime scene cleanup team at DRC Contract Cleaning on your side, you can make the best of your situation and start producing income again as soon as possible.