After you’ve found your dream first apartment following our countdown advice on getting ready and conducting the search, run through our guest blogger Tiffany’s safety checklist before you sign on the dotted line.
Safety is a taboo word for apartment professionals, but it should be the top priority for apartment-hunters. Before you sign on the dotted line, consider the following:
1. Reputation. Check out the community and management company on reputable search sites (ex. find info on Orlando apartments at a search site specific to Orlando), at the Better Business Bureau, and at review sites like Yelp and Apartment Ratings. Safety concerns will often be complained about here, so pay special attention to management responses.
2. Stats. Go to the records page of the local police precinct’s website or visit the precinct’s records department in person to check crime statistics.
3. Gates. Gates don’t prevent determined crime-committers, but they can be an effective deterrent to the casual criminal. If there’s a gate, ask how quickly it’s fixed when broken, and walk the perimeter to make sure there are no gaps.
4. Guards. Most communities don’t have guards, but they may employ a courtesy officer. Know your options, when they are available, and what issues they respond to.
5. Inspections. Management should regularly perform routine safety inspections, such as annual fire extinguisher and sprinkler head inspections, and annual testing of the monitored fire alarm system. Air filters should be changed seasonally and smoke detector batteries should be provided at no cost.
6. Railings. Shake the stairwell and balcony/patio railings to make sure they aren’t loose. Look for rust, loose nails, or other signs of neglect.
7. Pests. Exterior doors should have sufficient weather stripping to prevent disease-carrying pests from moving in. There should be an as-needed pest control service and routine preventative treatments.
8. Mold. This is the four-letter-word of the apartment industry. Although mold concerns often turn out to be harmless mildew, management should still take all concerns seriously and consult with a mold-certified expert. Mold remediation should include employing outside vendors specially trained in mold remediation techniques.
9. Fire. Look for obvious fire hazards like exposed wiring and loose electrical plates. Check the breaker box to ensure it’s in good condition. A fire extinguisher should be provided, and each area of the apartment should contain a smoke detector.
10. Problems. If the community allows pets, it should restrict aggressive breeds and employ strict leash and pet waste pick-up policies. If there’s trouble with a neighbor, management should have a conflict resolution policy to help mediate issues before they spin out of control.
The quest for safety doesn’t stop once the apartment search is over. If you’ve picked the right community with a management team dedicated to protecting you, then once you’ve moved in, your safety is mostly up to you. No community can guarantee your safety, but if you follow the guidelines above, you’ll be well on your way to finding your own safe haven!
Our today’s guest blogger is Tiffany Turpin Johnson, a former property manager who now spends her days balancing two small kids and a freelance writeography career. She regularly contributes to such blogs as 407apartments.com and audiobookaddicts.com. Find her at fictiffious.com.