A property manager’s role in the wake of a break-in

Investors, Property Management, Tenants,  Property Managers

While it’s preferable to imagine break-ins and burglaries will never happen to us, the reality is that they are always a possibility.

In addition to the sentimental and financial loss of contents, the gross invasion of personal space is psychologically traumatic to those who are the victims of a break and enter.

All of this stress is amplified in the case of a rental property break-in, because there are more parties involved.

The owner, for example, is legally obligated to ensure that their premises are secure and in good working order, which includes functional locks, doors, and windows. If the home wasn’t properly secure, and is subsequently broken into, the tenant may have grounds to breach the tenancy agreement, though it could depend on a QCAT hearing.

If a lock, door, or window is damaged and the tenant fails to alert the owner, then the owner cannot be held responsible, and the tenant won’t have grounds to breach.

Assuming, however, that the premises was properly secure when the burglary occurred, then the property manager needs to understand their role in proceedings.

Legally, there is little for the property manager to do, though it is best practice to ensure fluid communication between tenant and owner, with respect to informing 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 rendering to home no longer secure, the tenant can pay for emergency repairs up to the cost of two weeks’ rent and have the owner reimburse them.

If the tenant has contents insurance and, again, the premises was properly secured, then they should have no problem making a successful claim, but insurance doesn’t cover emotional difficulty, nor help to restore peace of mind.

As such, while the property manager’s key responsibility is to provide swift, helpful communication between tenant, owner, and possibly police, they should also endeavour to make the tenant feel safe following the breach of privacy.

If the tenant believes the property is going to continue being the target of breaking and entering, they’re likely to seek to 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.

If the property is in an area that is prone to higher crime rates, the property manager should consider suggesting the owner install additional security measures, such as slash-proof screens, sensor lights and alarms, and window locks or deadbolts.

Making the tenant feel as safe as possible in their home is even more pressing when there are children involved, and personal safety is of paramount importance.

Property managers should therefore relay any and all safety concerns of the tenants to the owner as swiftly as possible – though this level of service should not only be exclusive to the aftermath of a burglary.