A property manager’s role in the wake of a break-in
While it’s preferable to imagine break-ins will never happen to us, the reality is they are always possible.
Besides the emotional and financial loss of personal property, the invasion of personal space is traumatic to the victims of a break-in.
Who’s Responsible for the Property?
This stress of a break-in is only increased in the case of a rental property break-in as there are more parties involved.
The owner, for example, is legally obligated to ensure that their premises are secure and in good working order. This includes functional locks, doors, and windows.
If the home wasn’t properly secure and a break-in occurs, the tenant may have grounds to breach the tenancy agreement.
If a lock, door, or window is damaged and the tenant fails to alert the owner, the owner cannot be held responsible, and the tenant won’t have grounds to breach.
However, if that the property was properly secure when the break-in occurred, the property manager needs to understand their role in proceedings.
The Role of the Property Manager
Legally, there is little for the property manager to do, but it’s best practice to ensure fluid communication between tenant and owner.
As a start, you should inform the property owner about the break-in, as well as any damages to the property which will need to be covered by the owner.
If locks, doors, or windows were damaged in the break-in, the home is no longer secure. The tenant can pay for emergency repairs up to the cost of two weeks’ rent and have the owner reimburse them.
Contents insurance can be useful for the tenant if the property was properly secured. But insurance doesn’t cover emotional difficulty, nor help to restore peace of mind.
It’s Not All About the Money
The property manager’s main responsibility should be to provide timely and helpful communication between tenant, owner, and possibly police. But, they should also endeavour to make the tenant feel safe following the breach of privacy.
After the incident, the tenant may believe the property is going to continue being the target of break-ins.
If this is the case, they will likely leave as soon as the tenancy agreement ends (if not before, if they’re concerned enough to end the agreement early). Maintaining a sense of calm and security could then be vital to secure the tenancy.
The property manager should suggest to the owner to install extra security measures if the area is prone to break-ins. For example, slash-proof screens, sensor lights and alarms, and window locks or deadbolts.
Property managers should relay all safety concerns of the tenants to the owner as soon as possible. This level of service should not only be exclusive to the aftermath of a break-in.