Who should pay to protect my property staff?
Often times in the apartment industry, fee managers are unsure on who is responsible for providing safety for their staff. The general thought process is: “These are my employees and I pay insurance and workers comp, so it’s my responsibility as a fee manager”. So what happens when a staff member is attacked or hurt at work by a potential resident or current resident during an altercation? Who is responsible? The fact is, even though the agents are working for the Fee manager, typically the building owner is the one holding the bag due to Premise Liability.
So what should we be doing as a fee manager to protect our clients?
The first thing is to inform your clients that there are very low cost solutions to prevent or significantly reduce your liability in such cases. We offer a great personal safety device that allows staffers to immediately get in touch with 911, but there are also other things you can do to protect staff. In addition to ongoing training, we suggest putting up security cameras in high traffic areas, using identification systems that filter false documents, and internal safety programs. The key here is to let your owners know that this is necessary and not optional. The cost of these services is a complete no brainer when it comes to the average cost of these types of legal cases. The second thing you can do to help prevent these situations is to act swiftly. Don’t sit it on. We deal with owners and property managers all over the country that look into safety and it takes 5-6 months to get approvals. This is NOT a budget item- make room for it and do it right away. Our recommendation is to push this cost to the ownership as it is their property and ultimately their exposure. We can tell you from experience that if you explain this to an owner they typically agree and have no problem protecting the asset and the employees.