Choosing a Safer Apartment Community in Georgia- PART ONE: The Apartment Search
This is the first of our three-part blog series on finding and maintaining the safest apartment possible, regardless of your neighborhood. Whether you live in a Georgia area considered safe or more risky, it’s worthwhile to protect yourself by following a few simple rules when choosing your next residence or making some easy adjustments that will make you a bit more secure at your current residence.
PART ONE: The Apartment Search
If you are considering living in an apartment, you should first learn as much as possible about:
- the location and history of the apartment property
- the people who live and congregate on the property
- the location and physical integrity of the individual apartments you’re considering
- the management and maintenance staff
FACT: The vast majority of violent apartment attacks occur at properties that allow non-violent property crime and loitering to go unchecked.
Search Rule # 1 – Location: Know as much as you can about the community.
You know the old advice about what three things are most important when buying a house? LOCATION! LOCATION! LOCATION! This is just as important when choosing an apartment.
As apartment communities go, your safety depends primarily on WHERE you live. This is less about zip codes or school districts than about WHO else lives in the area, WHO is attracted to the area, WHO congregates in the area, and HOW these people spend their time.
CRIME HISTORY is the #1 predictor of future crime. Ideally, you would go to the local police department and obtain copies of reports of crime for all of the apartment properties you’re considering. But, in most jurisdictions it would take months to get these, and you probably don’t have that kind of time. Instead, you can and should ask the leasing staff of any community you’re considering, to allow you to review the incident reports and police reports they have on file for at least the previous 3 years. If they tell you they don’t keep these reports or refuse to let you see them, you should mark this community off your list of possibilities.
“Curb Appeal” Does Not Guarantee Safety – while those newly planted pansies and shiny balloons may get you into the leasing office, be aware that these are marketing strategies, first and foremost.
Do all of the Vehicle Control Gates work? Are they often damaged or out of order? Is there a record of repair available for you to review? Controlled Access Gates Do Not Guarantee Safety. Many properties advertise the presence of vehicular control gates in order to attract new tenants. Make sure they work properly!
“Courtesy Officers” are not the same as security guards – in fact, most landlords specifically attempt to disclaim any responsibility for their tenants’ safety in the language of their lease. Do not be fooled. Most landlords give free or reduced rent to off-duty police officers whose main job is to hand out tenant letters and eviction papers – and to help protect the landlord’s property from getting damaged. And, most landlords tell their tenants not to report crimes to the courtesy officer but to call 911, directly.
Search Rule # 2 – Consider the Property’s Parking Lots
Walking alone from your car to your apartment or mailbox may put you at risk. Consider where you would be parking on a prospective apartment property and make sure you would be able to do the following to keep yourself safe:
- Back your car into a parking spot or in a position that eliminates as many blind spots as possible as you get out of your car
- Have a clear line of sight to your apartment or mailbox from wherever you park.
Next week, in PART TWO we will discuss more tips for searching out the safest possible home, and stay tuned for PART THREE in which we provide easy tips for improving the safety of your existing home – no matter where you live.
If you or someone you love has been the victim of a violent crime, we understand the pain and psychological damage that can follow. We also understand all of the legal implications and are here to help you- contact us anytime.
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I have seen Gilbert Deitch in every capacity as a lawyer. I have opposed him in premises liability cases, used him as a consultant and seen his work as a trial lawyer
Gino Brogdon, Former Judge
Fulton County Superior Court