Posts Tagged ‘Resident Safety’

Four Easy Steps to Safeguard Resident Information

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

secure dataProtecting your business from hackers is a hot topic these days. Property management companies are particularly fearful of becoming the next Target, and rightfully so. With all the data residents need to provide on lease applications, property management databases are full of sensitive information like credit cards, Social Security numbers, previous address information, and date of birth. It’s a gold mine for identity thieves.

With so much buzz over data security, we recently hosted a webinar for property management professionals titled, “Safeguard your Business – Strategies to Improve Data Security and Protect Resident Information”. In case you missed it, here are some of the tips PayLease’s security experts discussed with the audience.

Hire Trustworthy Employees

Responsible and honest employees are crucial to data security. Job hunters are on their best behavior during interviews so it is important to run background checks and call each candidate’s professional references. Prospective employees should have multiple rounds of interviews within your organization, preferably with multiple people within the company.

Train Employees

The people you hire are your first line of defense in protecting resident data. Train employees how to properly handle sensitive resident information like Social Security numbers, credit card information, etc. Limit the number of employees who have access to this data. Furthermore, employees also need to know computer usage policies and email best practices, so make sure that they are not exposing your computers to unnecessary risk.

Invest in Physical Security

Your office doesn’t need to be Ft. Knox, but exercising some simple precautions can go a long way. Keep files locked. Shred any documents containing sensitive data. Either purchase a shredder for the office or hire a 3rd party to destroy these documents. Install security cameras and a key card access system for rooms where sensitive information could be accessed. But before you install cameras, be sure you check the privacy laws in your area. Some state laws require that employees be informed of security cameras.

Digital Security

Strong passwords are the most important aspect of digital security. Passwords should be at least 8 characters and contain an uppercase letter, a lower case letter and a special character. Never write down passwords and make sure you have multiple passwords for various systems.

Install a reputable antivirus software on all employee computers and make sure it runs daily. Research and choose a solution that is effective and fast, so it can run frequently on the computers without getting in the way. It should be easy to deploy and centrally manage.

Your organization should also have an email and internet policy within its employee manual. Also be sure to inform employees of the latest malware to prevent your systems from being infected with viruses.

For more tips on safeguarding resident information, view our recorded webinar, Safeguard your Business – Strategies to Improve Data Security and Protect Resident Information.


paylease logo PayLease | Company Website 

PayLease is a leading payments provider for the property management industry, specifically serving the Residential, Homeowner Association and Commercial markets. We provide property managers the ability to collect rent, dues and lease payments electronically, resulting in less administrative work and improved cash flow and funding time.

Considering 24 Hour Security for Your Multi-Unit Properties

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Surveillance_camerasWhether you own or serve as the property management company for a multi-unit housing complex, adding a security patrol to your agenda may be something to consider as an extra precaution or to add peace of mind value to your property.

One option to consider, if budget permits, is hiring off-duty police officers for 24-hour security; however, for this particular piece we will take a look at employing licensed and trained security personnel for evening or full-time patrols rather than formal police officers.

The Real Purpose of Residential Security Patrols

Whether considering a single night watchman or several patrol officers or stationary guards, the main emphasis should always be on establishing a perimeter of non-forceful deterrence. The goal is to make criminals think twice with the mere presence of security personnel, who should ultimately rely on municipal police for backup and action when and if it becomes necessary to protect the property.

You’ll only want to hire security when it’s called for. For example, if crime is higher on weekends or evenings, a force during those hours may be all that’s necessary. This is a consideration that may be taken to residents themselves through a survey, general meeting, and those with HOA boards already have a sounding board with the authority to approve such expenditures.

Determining the Functions of Your Security Force

While visibility of security is vital to its efficacy, so is the credibility that residents hold in your security personnel. This means that the security persons must be able to get police help promptly, must be adept at their job, and make those rounds so that they are clearly and regularly seen by both residents and mischievous eyes. Although the use of force must be minimal, these individuals must be able to exhibit the ability to defend themselves if and when necessary.

Security personnel can essentially perform three basic functions for your housing complex: patrolling, monitoring the electronic alarms and/or surveillance systems, and stationary guarding. Clearly patrolling may involve vertical patrols of interior hallways, lobbies, elevators, and the like while regular perimeter checks outdoors may also be necessary. Stationary guards may serve at the entrance of gated communities or serve dually as a monitor of any alarm systems and visual camera security. Determine how many patrollers you’ll need to handle your target tasks and budget appropriately.

Types of Security Services for Property Management Companies

Unless you’re considering police protection or thinking about establishing a resident patrol program, (an increasingly popular and rather effective option in resident owned complexes with HOAs) there are basically two options to consider: management controlled forces and contract guard services.

Management Controlled Security – Members of these forces are paid by the property management company who will retain the final say in supervising, hiring, and the firing of the security personnel.

Contract Guard Services – Unfortunately, these contracts are often purchased through agencies who retain hiring, firing, and supervising rights. These contracts will need to be cancelled if the services don’t live up to your standards and are less easily managed than controlled security forces.

You Can’t Go Wrong by Protecting Residents and the Property

Establishing set security personnel to keep an eye on things around the neighborhood can increase resident and owner confidence and dissuades potential criminal offenders from even making a move in your community. With this in mind, it could be time you consider 24-hour security, or evening patrols, to help keep your property and residents safe.


appfolio Appfolio | Company Website | LinkedIn Connect |

AppFolio, Inc. develops Property Management Software that helps businesses improve their workflow so they save time and make more money.  Appfolio submits articles & blogs including topics of Resident Retention, Improved Owner Communication, Time Management, and more.

Are You Doing Enough To Protect Your Residents’ Privacy?

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

File-security1Protecting residents’ personal information and privacy aren’t new concerns for property managers. After two decades of widespread Internet use, and improved technology, guarding personal data online still presents challenges.

Marketing, Personalization and Privacy

Studies show that brand marketing and personalization strategies deliver to a business’s bottom line. Translated into property management terms, that means happier residents, lower vacancy averages and higher retention rates.

Mobile users in North America are predicted to reach 287 million by 2017, according to Mashable projections. Apartment managers wisely engage in marketing strategies that include advanced information collection techniques and mobile campaigns to cement relationships and build new ones.

The residential rental market clearly benefits from integrating advanced data collection and personalization strategies. The National Multifamily Housing Council cautions that these benefits come with increased risk for data breach. Though risks exists, managing collected information and employee training mitigate those risks for property owners.

Internal Strategies

  • To make sure you are doing all you can to protect tenant privacy, create strong internal policies.
  • Establish company policies that limit employees’ access to sensitive electronic and paper information to designated personnel.
  • Change passwords and pin numbers every thirty to sixty days, and anytime a key employee transfers, retires or is otherwise terminated.
  • Protect digital data with computer locks and passwords.
  • Secure printed documents and digital storage devices in locked file cabinets.
  • Invest in a commercial shredder or contract with a document shredding company to dispose of outdated documents annually.
  • Evaluate bring-your-own device rules and current policies for social media engagement on company-owned digital devices.

Training for Resident Privacy

Employee training is an essential component of developing a strong internal plan to protect personal information. Before you implement a new training policy, ask yourself these questions. Do your employees know how to respond to a request for information from residents? From law enforcement? In emergencies?

Protecting personal information requires advanced planning and coordination efforts. Creating an information sharing protocol for your employees ensures they are ready to respond, especially in emotional and emergency situations.

Beyond Digital Information

As new technologies and devices emerge in the future, expect data mining and storage issues to follow, but don’t ignore the role face-to-face communication has in managing privacy.

Every leasing office needs a designated area for discreet discussions with residents and potential renters. Employees must protect sensitive information gathered and discussed during the application and lease renewal processes from others nearby. If there isn’t a separate office available, train employees to write information down or point to segments of the contract rather than stating phone numbers, social security numbers and other personal information out loud.

Creating an atmosphere of community for your property often improves renter satisfaction. Long-term relationships depend on integrity, honesty and trust. Don’t breach that trust. Discourage employees from engaging in gossip or inappropriate conversations about other tenant’s financial matters, relationships or employment issues without express permission. Never release phone numbers or unit numbers to other tenants. You can decide when your staff should offer to contact the tenant for permission to share  information or state the privacy policy prevents sharing.

Protecting tenants’ personal information and privacy aren’t new concerns for property managers, but how you respond to emerging trends and technology defines your property and your brand.


appfolio Appfolio | Company Website | LinkedIn Connect |

AppFolio, Inc. develops Property Management Software that helps businesses improve their workflow so they save time and make more money.  Appfolio submits articles & blogs including topics of Resident Retention, Improved Owner Communication, Time Management, and more.

What is the OFAC Terrorism Watch Search and Why is It Important to Real Estate Professionals and Landlords?

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Elizabeth Whited, May 13, 2013 | ewhited@therrd.com, 1-855-733-2289

When choosing screening services have you ever wondered what the OFAC search was, and if it was really necessary to use for your company? Recent events like the tragedy in Boston have placed a lot of emphasis on America’s terrorist watch list, and what it really means.

OFAC_logoThe Office of Foreign Asset Control, or OFAC is part of the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. It administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions based on national security goals against targeted foreign countries and regimes, terrorists, parties engaged with weapons of mass destruction, and other threats to the national security, foreign policy or the economy of the United States (US Department of Treasury).

So how does this search affect you and your business? In short: the list they administer and enforce tells you who and who you cannot do business with legally. The list they create of the restricted parties is known as the “Specially Designated Nationals List” (SDN), and is available on their website. A recent LinkedIn poll showed that 78% of Real Estate professionals use the OFAC search and believe it to be an important tool, while 5% used it, but didn’t really know what it was, or what they were getting, and 16% did not use it in their tenant or pre-employment screening at all, or knew what it was.

While the SDN list is extensive, it is important to note that you always need to perform due diligence with it (just as with any other report you get back with tenant or employment screening), as it can return with similar names to your applicants. If you do suspect a match has been found there are hotlines to call to verify that information, depending on what list you received the information from.

Most OFAC searches will return with information regarding the applicant at the top: name, address, filing state, social security number, birth date, birth country, and a best name, followed by the databases searched. It is important that every applicant to any property, be it small, large, class A-C assets, should be screened, and in light of recent events should be searched through the OFAC Terrorist Watch/Patriot Act Database.

Not only is it important to screen every tenant or employee applicant, it is also important to know and completely understand what you are receiving in your reports. It is also good practice to perform due-diligence before making any final conclusions.

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ElizabethWhitedAbout the Author: Elizabeth Whited is the Operations Coordinator at the Rent Rite Directory. She has written educational articles for multifamily magazines and Real Estate websites to help Property Managers and Owners improve their properties, in an effort to reduce crime in their communities. The Rent Rite Directory educates Property Managers and Owners at Crime Watch Meetings, and Crime Free Association Conferences, and works closely with law enforcement nationwide. For more information, visit www.therrd.com

Income Property Management Expo

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

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Apartment News Publications Inc. is teaming up with the Income Property Management Expo to provide Apartment Owners/Managers & Commercial Property Management Companies with tools for efficient, cost effective management, operation and maintenance of their communities & facilities!

Join us October 30, 2013 for the Bay Area Income Property Management Expo at the San Mateo Event Center!
Click Here to Pre-Register Online

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Bay Area California Attendee Information:

  • follow-us-on-twitter2Apartment Owners
  • Property Managers
  • HOA
  • Commercial Property Management Companies
  • Service & Maintenance Staff
  • Industry Partners & Vendors

View Expo Floor Plan: Click Here

Seminar Line Up:

10:00 am:  The Eviction Process – Learn more about Northern CA Rent Control & Eviction Laws

11:00 am:  Your Business is Mobile Are You? Learn how mobile is impacting your vacancy rate

12:00 pm:  The Essentials of NFPA Code – 6 Primary NFPA Tests & Inspections required for your property

2:00 pm:  Construction Defect Claims – Take action upon notice of construction defects

3:00 pm:  Fair Housing & How it Effects You

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Visit Us Online!

To learn more about the Income Property Management Expo, or to reserve a booth for the Exhibitor Floor, visit IncomePropertyExpo.com!

After Sandy… Now What?

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

7 Suggestions to help you plow through the Chaos

By: Nick Frantz

In October, Hurricane Sandy slammed the east coast and wiped out entire communities. Sandy, the largest Atlantic mega storm on record, caused 100 deaths; an estimated $50 billion in damages; demolished hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses; and left millions of households and businesses without electricity, heat, water and provisions.

If you’re struggling with the aftermath, there may not be a lot that’s within your control. But sometimes, even one or two adjustments to your recovery plan can make a difference. Here are seven ideas that may give you some command over the chaos.

1.  Do you have a crisis team? Although your entire staff may be in crisis, assemble a crisis team anyway and assign specific responsibilities: civil and resident communications, utilities and supplies, property repairs, street and transportation updates, etc. Bring your team together in a physical location, conference call or social media site for daily updates. Let them know your expectations and maintain regular contact with them.

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2.  Get frequent updates from FEMA, state, and local recovery teams. Google “FEMA updates” and choose from several options. Do the same for your local municipalities and utility companies. Stay updated on:

– How long your area will be affected; when utilities and services will be fully restored and when to expect outages

– Local status of transportation, street conditions, tunnel and bridge openings, availability of provisions and supplies, etc.

3.  Commit to regular and frequent communications with your residents. Send short, direct messages to keep them updated on every aspect of the recovery efforts (for your property and your local area). Keep your messages simple, but provide specific details. Whether they’re on your site or not, your residents want to be kept informed.

4.  Use as many communication mediums as possible. Communications may be erratic for you and also for your residents. Use as many contact numbers and mediums as possible: land lines, cell phones, email, websites and social media sites.

5.  Set up alternative communication sites using social media. During Sandy, when communications were overwhelmed or failed, social media became the reliable go-to medium. Set up go-to sites on social media to ensure that you can communicate with your staff and your residents.

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6.  Protect your records and your data. It’s your responsibility to protect sensitive data and documents (bank records, account numbers, social security numbers). Make sure you subscribe to a data backup service. This is a good time to rethink what types of hardcopies you really need to keep.

7.  Prepare for a long recovery period. Stay prepared for intermittent power, water and supply shortages and outages. Budget these resources and always keep your cell phone charged. Always get the important things done in case you unexpectedly lose power. Conserve your water and other supplies in spite of recovery progress.  Shortages may suddenly occur.


If your property is in a recovery zone, you’ll be facing enormous challenges in the months ahead. The steps you take now to take charge, stay updated and keep others informed will help your recovery and hopefully ease frustrations for yourself, your team and your residents.

About Nick Frantz

Nick Frantz is the National Sales Manager for Property Management Solutions at One Call Now, where he has worked since March 2011. He specializes in Property Management solutions – commercial and residential – assisting in communications between property managers and staff/residents. Nick holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Miami University.

www.OneCallNow.com

One Call Now 726 Grant St. Troy, OH 45373 |  Phone: 937-573-2331

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