As 2015 comes to a close, many apartment managers are deciding to use their end-of-the-year budget surpluses to add security measures like access control and camera surveillance systems to their properties. They recognize that doing so will protect their residents and staff, decrease the odds of fraudulent lawsuits, and increase their property values.
Many state laws stipulate that property owners have a legal duty to provide safety and security for their tenants and are therefore responsible for accidents and injuries that occur on their property. In 2006, for example, David Cadena of Palm Beach County filed a lawsuit against his property owner over lax security after Cadena was shot multiple times during a home invasion.
There is definite legal precedent for this, established in 1977 when singer Connie Francis sued a Howard Johnson motel in Westbury, NY for negligent security that she claimed resulted in her rape. The hotel was forced to settle out of court to the tune of $1.5 million.
The Connie Francis case set in motion a number of “inadequate security” lawsuits against property owners and businesses. The Sun Sentinel reports that legal analysts claim those particular lawsuits are “one of the fastest growing segments of lawsuit liability.”
With the addition of security and access control systems, landlords and property managers can protect themselves against “inadequate security” lawsuits, and more importantly, can protect their residents.
Gate access control systems and telephone entry systems are just some options that apartment communities can utilize. The placement of emergency call stations throughout the property can also help to increase protection for residents.
Additionally, adding camera surveillance systems can help property owners and managers to protect themselves against false claims.
Landlords and property managers are extremely susceptible to fraudulent insurance claims. With surveillance cameras, landlords have the ability to examine captured footage to determine whether an incident is real, feigned, or the result of an action for which the property managers cannot be held accountable. Camera presence can also protect property management employees from false claims of misconduct.
Camera surveillance also serves as a deterrent to opportunistic thieves, particularly when property managers post signs indicating the property is under surveillance.
Security Magazine expounds on the importance of having multiple systems in place, asserting that security technology relies on a “three-legged stool consisting of access control, video and life safety (fire alarms, strobes, etc.).” The placement of a stand-alone video system without securing and monitoring the property by an access control system is more reactive than proactive. Cameras will surely help to capture footage of incidents on the property, but access control enables landlords and tenants to properly regulate who gains access to the property, thereby preventing more incidents from taking place.
Moreover, access control systems provide reports to building managers who are seeking to ensure that only residents, their guests, and appropriate people are entering the facilities. Those reports, particularly when used in conjunction with camera footage, can simplify monitoring practices without having to have someone constantly on watch.
Thomas L. Norman, CPP/PSP/CSC, principal of Protection Partners International in Houston, Texas, observes, “There are only five things that can be done to protect anything, from nuclear weapons to gold vaults to a residential community.” Those things are as follows:
- Deter it from happening.
- Detect inappropriate behavior.
- Help assess what has been detected.
- Help or mount a response to what has been detected.
- Gather evidence of the event.
“Everything we do in security does one or more of those five things,” he says. “Access control allows normal passage of appropriate users and deters or delays inappropriate users, creating a physical barrier that serves both to deter and detect crime, which is also part of response. Video can help in assessment and evidence. It might also be a deterrent, but it is a passive one.” After all, unless someone is watching the video surveillance in real-time, it does not necessarily serve to stop crimes per se, except for perhaps as a deterrent, but captures footage to enable law enforcement to determine the violators and prosecutors to make a case after a crime has taken place.
For these reasons, Security Magazine concludes that access control and video “work best when used together.”
On another note, security and access control systems such as keypad entry gates prove to be popular amenities for property management companies to advertise and allow companies to charge more premium rent.
If you find yourself with some available money in your end-of-the-year budget, consider adding access control, security and video surveillance systems to your property. Contact Crime Intervention Alarm at 717-846-4004 for a no-obligation security quote and get a customized solution that fits your budget.