safetyfirstOriginal article by Natalie Hastings form Hastings and Co in Victoria.

Being a property manager is a uniquely intimate kind of role, laden with both responsibility and expectation. Every day, we’re working with clients in their homes, being welcomed (sometimes warmly, sometimes not) into private environments far from public view. While this is a privilege, it is also a risk – as what happens in private domestic environments is often beyond our control. In the article below, we look at risk management for property managers, ensuring their daily work environment is as safe as that of any other worker.

We’ve all heard of property management incidents which chill our industry to the core; those of unexpected violence, assault and even homicide against property managers and real estate agency staff by members of the public or clients. Property management is a risky business, as managers are often by themselves with strangers in private residences. Sometimes we’re showing property to prospective tenants at private viewings, at other times we are performing routine inspections in inhabited residences. Both acts have the potential to be risky. Both you and your business play a role in minimizing your personal risk when out there doing your job – here are some useful ideas to consider implementing when dealing with the public.

Safety at Open For Inspections

If possible, plan to attend open for inspections or viewings as a team of two. The likelihood of attack or assault against two is greatly reduced when property managers work together. If not regularly possible, take a team member with you if you get a worried feeling or bad vibe about a situation. You’re a people person, so listen to your gut! Always ask for ID at the door (advertise this as a requirement for OFI attendance on your listings), and when making a private appointment consider asking for a copy of their license to be emailed to you before meeting.

Procedures

Office procedures go a long way towards making a property manager’s role safer. Ensure that your property management team have a shared calendar on which every open for inspection and private appointment appears – this way, you’ll know where your whole team are at all times. Create buddy accountability systems – when your last open for inspection finishes, a simple text exchange between colleagues means that everyone is home safe. Agencies may also wish to provide their property managers with pepper spray or mobile alarms.

Dealing With Danger

You may encounter a frightening stranger during your role as a property manager, despite all the safety precautions taken. If you feel uncomfortable while at an open for inspection or private viewing, call a colleague and communicate that you need assistance by using an agreed-upon code word. If you are in the midst of an aggressive situation, do your utmost to remove yourself from it as soon as possible. Try to stay calm and communicate to the aggressor in a monotone manner, focusing squarely on getting away from the property. If it’s a robbery, give them what they’re after and get out of there – you are worth more than any item or property.

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