A Road Map to Crime Free Housing

One of the major issues for most landlords is how to keep the rental property safe for the tenants and neighboring community.

California’s violent crime rate increased by 1.5% in 2017 to 451 per 100,000 residents. There were also upticks in 2012 and from 2015 to 2017, but the statewide rate is still comparable to levels in the late 1960s. The state’s violent crime rate increased dramatically from 1960 to 1980, from 236 to 888 violent crimes per 100,000 residents—a staggering 276% rise.

After declining in the early 1980s, the rate rose to a peak of 1,104 in 1992. Since then, violent crime has decreased substantially. California’s violent crime rate ranked 16th nationwide and was higher than the national rate of 394 per 100,000 residents. In 2017, 59% of reported violent crimes in California were aggravated assaults, 32% were robberies, 8% were rapes, and 1% were homicides.

We live in a violent and divisive society. Providers of rental property have a legal and economic responsibility to keep the rental property free of criminal activity and safe for its residents to avoid liability lawsuits.

The first major responsibility for the providers of multi hosing units is to recognize there is a crime problem within the multi-unit housing community. How many crimes have been reported in your housing community in 2016, 2017 and 2018?

Any type of criminal activity by residents of the housing community or from third parties that could have been avoided by an aggressive preventative program may expose the property owner or management company to financial exposure from lawsuits and judgments.

Step 1 in this preventative program is to include a Crime Free Addendum in your leases and lease renewals. There are commercial multi-unit housing leases that are available to the housing community at a minimal cost.

Here is one example of a very general Crime Fee Addendum that can be included in a new lease or a lease renewal:

In consideration of the execution or renewal of a lease of the dwelling unit identified in the lease, Owner and Resident agree as follows:

Resident, any members of the resident’s household or a guest or other person affiliated with the resident, shall not engage in criminal activity, including drug-related criminal activity, on or near the said premises.

“Drug related criminal activity” means the illegal manufacture, sale, distribution, use, or possession with intent to manufacture, sell, distribute, or use an illegal or controlled substance (as defined in Section 102 of the Controlled Substance Act [21 U.S.C.802], Shall not engage in any act intended to facilitate criminal activity, Shall not permit the dwelling unit to be used for, or to facilitate criminal activity, regardless of whether the individual engaging in such activity is a member of the household, or a guest shall not engage in the unlawful manufacturing, selling, using, storing, keeping, or giving of an illegal or controlled substance as defined by Federal, State or Local law, at any locations, whether on or near the dwelling unit premises Shall not engage in any illegal activity, as defined  by Federal, State or Local Law, including but not limited to criminal street gang activity, threatening or intimidating other residents or members of the neighboring community,  the unlawful discharge of a weapon, on or near the dwelling unit premises, or any breach of the lease agreement that otherwise jeopardizes the health, safety, and welfare of the landlord, his agent, or other tenant, or involving imminent or actual serious property damage.

VIOLATION OF THE ABOVE PROVISIONS SHALL BE A MATERIAL AND IRREPARABLE (NON-CURABLE) VIOLATION OF THE LEASE AND GOOD CAUSE FOR IMMEDIATE TERMINATION OF TENANCY.

A single violation of any of the provisions of this added addendum shall be deemed a serious violation, and a material and irreparable non- compliance. It is understood that a single violation shall be good cause for immediate termination of the lease under California Law. Unless otherwise provided by law, proof of violation shall not require a criminal conviction, but shall be by a preponderance of the evidence

In case of conflict between the provisions of this addendum and any other provisions of the lease, the provisions of this addendum shall govern. This LEASE ADDENDUM is incorporated into the lease executed or renewed this day between Owner and Resident.

One key component of the Crime Fee Lease Addendum is defining such activity as a non-curable breach which under California Law may allow the Owner/Lessor of the housing unit to serve a THREE-DAY NOTICE TO QUIT that defines the date(s), times(s), locations(s) of the activity along with the names of the witnesses. This notice, once expired, will allow for the filing of an Unlawful Detainer Action to be filed to evict the offending tenant.

Step 2 Become engaged with other providers of multi-housing units in a Crime Free Program that will educate the providers of multi-unit housing to the problem and availability of training to help eliminate the problem of criminal activity in and around the rental housing community. Many local law enforcement offices provide what has been described as a Crime Free Program

The Crime Free Multi-Housing Program has been described as a partnership with property managers, owners, landlords and residents.  The goal is to reduce crime through community partnerships and pro-active steps to improve the quality of life for our community.

This collaborative effort introduces the multi-unit housing provider to others in the community that are facing the same problem and provides an interface within the community to develop a joint response to the problem.

Most of the local programs are provided by local law enforcement consist of three phases that must be completed under the supervision of the local sheriff’s station. Property managers and owners can become individually certified after completing training in each phase and the property can become certified when all phases are completed. The certification of the property owner and staff as well as the property management company hired by the property owner have significant economic benefits to the housing provider such as lower insurance rates and decreased exposure to premise liability lawsuits.

Most programs consist of a three-part approach to crime prevention, designed specifically for the rental community. By joining this program, you will complete phases towards making your property a safer living environment for your tenants. The Sheriff’s Department’s Public Affairs Division is responsible for managing the countywide program and providing training to managers.

For more information and free training programs about providing a Crime Free Housing Program the housing provider should contact his or her local law enforcement office to determine if that office has and/or participates in such a program.

At Fast Eviction Service, help on any of the issues discussed in this article is simply a click or phone call away. Email intake@fastevict.com or call our office at (800) 686-8686 to discuss your questions for a free evaluation of your case.

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