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A Landlord’s Checklist: What Happens if you Don’t Know Your Tenants and Property Well Enough

Renting property can be a convenient way to earn extra income. However, landlords should be aware of the fact that they maintain a certain responsibility when it comes to keeping their property up to snuff. If there is criminal activity around your property, landlords can be held responsible. It is up to the landlords to make sure they know who their tenants are and what is happening on their property. If you are a landlord looking to keep your building safe, here are some tips on how to stay above the law.

Know Who Your Tenants Are

According to the Chicago Police, landlords can screen their potential tenants in order verify identity. It might seem like a hassle to create a screening process for potential tenants, but it’s necessary. The Chicago Police found that screening will go far in the long run when it comes to making sure your tenants are not involved in any criminal activity.

According to The Landlord Protection Agency, some questions landlords can ask potential tenants include their reason for moving, the number of pets they have, the number of people moving with them and their relationships to those people, what their credit level is and if they have a landlord reference.

Examining the appearance of a prospective tenant is also important. According to the Landlord Protection Agency, if tenants are clean, well-dressed and attempt to make good impressions, they might be ideal. On the other hand, if they are unkempt, needlessly criticize the property, and don’t care about the impression they make, the LPA recommends looking for better renters.

Stay Aware of What’s Happening

The Gang and Drug House Ordinance states that if landlords do not take action against criminal activity on their property, they can be held accountable. Because landlords have such a responsibility, it is imperative that they make sure they are aware of what is happening on their property. The Chicago Police suggest that landlords visit their properties often. If you can’t spend time on your property, make sure to hire managers who can ensure the safety of your property. Also, according to the Chicago Police, make sure to look for any suspicious activity or constant traffic around your building, such as groups using your building as a meeting place.

Also, you should know your building’s neighborhood well. According to the Chicago Police, talking to your tenants, neighbors and the area’s best officers about any criminal activity around your building will not only make you aware of the activity around your property, but it will also show your tenants that you are adamant about keeping them safe.

Keep Your Building Clean

Landlords should keep in mind that a clean building is a building that is less susceptible to crime. The Chicago Police say that a poorly maintained building that is dark or easily accessible is an attractive space for crime. To keep your building from becoming a haven for criminal activity, make sure to keep it clean. Take the effort to install gates, lighting systems, entry doors, and other security features. Make sure the doors have peep holes, remove graffiti—especially gang graffiti—from the premises, and keep any hedges, shrubs, trees and other plants trimmed in order to minimize hiding spaces. All of these actions make it known that your building isn’t fit for crime.

According to FindLaw, taking these measures is called acting with “due care.” This means that the landlord is actively taking security measures in order to keep the building and tenants safe from any foreseeable criminal activity. Any landlord who fails to protect their building from foreseeable crimes will be held accountable for criminal activity on their property.

If you follow these tips, your building should remain crime-free. What tips do you have for other landlords?


Photo taken from Keoni Cabral.

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