In any type of multifamily housing — be it apartment communities, student or military housing — the safety of your residents is an ongoing point of concern. Without proper security measures in place, if someone becomes a victim of a crime while on your property, that person could potentially hold your company legally responsible on the grounds of premises security liability.
Simply put, premises security liability means that as a property owner/manager, you are expected to have reasonable security measures in place, and if you are found negligent on that front, you could be legally liable for any harm or damage deriving from a crime. This article in Justia explains further:
“An injured person is able to bring a negligent security suit based on the duty imposed on landowners and possessors of property to offer reasonable security measures and protect lawful visitors from foreseeable crimes of third parties. Negligent security assumes that the crime could have been prevented or at least made less likely by using appropriate security measures.”
The Hidden Weakness: Key Control
Most multifamily housing communities understand and implement basic security measures to reduce the risk of crime — for example, installing security cameras and gated entry systems, or implementing ample lighting across the premises. However, proper key control is one aspect of premises security that can be easily overlooked.
With a large number of home invasions, robberies, burglaries and sexual assaults, the predator didn’t need to break in because they were able to obtain a key. In fact, as we mention here, one of the biggest jury awards given in a premises security liability case was one in which a rapist broke into the management office and found the key to his victim’s apartment clearly labeled.
Since the management oversees keys to all units, protecting and monitoring the use of those keys is one of the most important parts of keeping residents safe — and also one of the aspects most likely to be targeted for negligence. Not only do the keys need to be kept secure, but their use needs to be tracked. You need an audit trail — you need to be able to document and trace who had use of the keys, when they obtained them and when they were returned.
Obviously, not all crimes can be prevented, but one of the best ways you can improve safety for your residents is by implementing a secure system for key control. This also serves as a tremendous safeguard against premises security liability.
HandyTrac offers a variety of state-of-the-art key control systems that keep keys secure while generating a reliable audit trail. To learn more, contact us today.