I had an incident occur recently which reminded me that being a property manager is a job that requires us all to be vigilant when it comes to our personal safety. Basically I was out doing routine inspections with my assistant I have been training, and we attended a property where the male tenant (whom I inherited from another agent) was not appropriately dressed and he made no attempt to hide where his blood flow was directed at the time!
At that time I was very glad I had my assistant with me, she grew up with brothers and I used to do Taekwondo so I am confident we could have handled ourselves if anything happened. The fact that the tenant knew we were coming makes me believe he purposefully wanted to make us feel uncomfortable and possibly even unsafe, and the fact he could not be bothered to dress appropriately was very disrespectful. He did not know I would have someone with me when I attended which makes me feel even more concerned.
What do you do when you are on your own? Here are some tips for systems you can put in place before hand and what you can do when onsite which should help:
- Trust your gut. If you get a bad vibe about anything when you are out doing inspections or other property management related activities, just leave. It is not worth it.
- If you are going to a property where you know the occupants are a little dodgy, never go alone.
- If you are already in the property and are by yourself, make sure the occupant has not blocked off your exits and you can get away quickly if needed.
- Make sure someone in your office knows where you are or can track you down at any time and have a code word in the office if you need to call in without making it obvious to the person that you are alerting your workplace you need help.
- Review your personal safety procedures annually and get your staff involved in the process to raise their awareness.
- Download an app which can advise selected contacts of your location so they know there is an issue and can respond accordingly. An example is the HELP ME Daniel Morcombe App
- Be selective in the properties you add to your portfolio. Undesirable properties attract undesirable tenants.
- Stringent policies with tenant vetting and selection. This will lower your risk but not eliminate it- predators are from all walks of life and not always obvious
- Get your staff to do a self defence course
- Try to make all appointments during work hours (not always possible in real estate).
Danielle Coady, Principal of Element Property Services, has been living in Canberra since 1999 and working in Property Management since early 2006.