How to Stay Safe When Showing a Rental
In a perfect world, one lease agreement would end and another would begin almost seamlessly. Your new tenant would sign the lease before the old tenant moves out, making sure you never show a truly vacant property. Renting property doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes you have to show a vacant property in a remote area at a weird time. While the vast majority of prospective tenants are law-abiding citizens, it only takes one bad person to cause a lot of damage.
Here’s how to keep yourself safe when you show rental property.
Listen to Your Instincts
Ever got that funny feeling in the pit of your stomach, especially when something doesn’t seem right? If you get a call or email from a prospective tenant and they give you that feeling, pay attention. Don’t refuse to meet them - as that could lead to a charge of discrimination - but take precautions. Meet in a public place first. Ask for photo ID. Bring someone with you.
Notify Someone When Showing Rentals
When it’s time to show a rental property, make sure someone knows where you are. This could be a family member or a business colleague. Ask them to check in with you at a certain time if you don’t call or text them first. Because anything can happen once you walk into a vacant rental, it’s good to have someone on the outside who knows where you are,when you arrived, and when you should be back.
Get Information Before You Show the Property
Develop a pre-screening process to keep yourself safe and request information from every prospective tenant before you show a property. This includes picture ID, vehicle tag and registration information, and other info that, if the worst happens, will help law enforcement or your family know who you’re with. Simply requiring this information can be a deterrent to would-be thieves and other criminals.
Try Not to Show a Property Alone
Even if you don’t get that funny feeling when talking to a prospective tenant, it’s always a good idea to show property with a partner when you can. You are much less likely to be attacked when you’re not alone. The other person doesn’t have to actually show the property with you, but their presence may be a deterrent.
Keep Your Phone Ready
Before you meet a tenant, make sure your phone is completely charged. This will allow you to make an emergency call if needed. Turn on any tracking features in your phone. If the worst happens, and you’re forced to leave the property with an attacker, these features will help law enforcement find you.
Let Tenants Walk Ahead
While showing a rental, allow prospective tenants to walk ahead of you. They should enter the home before you do, and any rooms. If possible, don’t enter the home with them while they view it - especially if you’ve gotten a bad feeling about them. But at minimum, make sure they’re never behind you where they can sneak up and surprise you with an attack.
Being a landlord and showing rental property sounds a little scary once you think about the safety precautions you should take. Don’t be frightened, but stay realistic. Some properties are located in remote areas or not-so-great neighborhoods. The overwhelming majority of prospective tenants aren’t criminals planning a sneak attack. But it’s always good to plan for the worst, and hope for the best. By developing these habits now, you’ll keep yourself safe when it really matters.
If you’d rather not have to worry, work with a property management company who already has the policies and procedures in place to keep people safe. Here at ERA American Real Estate, we know how best to show vacant properties - and keep them from becoming vacant in the first place. We also have the tools, processes, and systems in place to keep your rental investment flowing smoothly so you have less to worry about in general. Give us a call today!