Landlords can face multiple challenges while overseeing rental properties. They may have tenants who fail to pay rent, destroy property, or generate complaints from neighbors. Other tenants may break their rental agreement by having a pet or letting someone else stay in their unit.
Landlords may also find themselves coping with the aftermath of a crime if one of their rental units turns into a crime scene. There were 1.3 million violent crimes—such as aggravated assault and sexual assault—reported in the United States in 2020, and this figure does not include property crimes. When your rental unit becomes a crime scene, you should take these four steps to address the damages and reduce your risk of another crime occurring.
1. Contact the police.
Your first step should be to call the authorities. The police can investigate the crime and collect evidence. You’ll also benefit from having a police report about the criminal activity. You may opt to seek compensation for damages once the responsible party’s established, and a police report can strengthen your case. You may need the police report to justify breaking your rental agreement and evicting the tenants.
You may also opt to contact a private investigator, particularly if the police officers that report to the scene don’t seem to take the matter seriously. Hiring an investigator can promptly give you access to additional information, which could help you establish who’s responsible for the crime or whether you should remove current tenants from the property.
2. Hire a professional crime scene cleaning crew.
There are multiple types of crimes that occur, and the issues you’ll need to address after a police investigation can vary widely depending on the nature of the crime. Whether you called the police to investigate a decomposing body, an assault, or a suicide attempt, the police will not clean up after their investigation.
Contact a crime scene cleanup company with years of experience handling various crime scenes. An experienced company will comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines while addressing your crime scene clean up needs. They have the equipment and chemicals needed to address biohazard cleanup and remove feces, blood, and other toxins from your property. Crime scene cleaners use discretion when cleaning up homicide scenes and take extra steps to eliminate bloodborne pathogens and remove bodily fluids. They can also remove fingerprint dust after the police investigation’s complete.
3. Provide mental health support.
Witnessing or dealing with a crime can strain your mental health. You, the tenants in the crime scene, or neighboring tenants may struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, such as insomnia, nightmares, or anxiety. Your condition may be exacerbated by headline stress if you’re dealing with a homicide or a disturbing crime. You can address your mental health needs and prevent neighboring tenants from vacating their properties by investing in an appropriate treatment plan from reputable mental health professionals.
You can consider multiple treatment options, including family therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), or expressive arts therapy (EAT), including art therapy activities such as sculpting and finger painting. Review the options discussed at CharlieHealth.com and arrange for suitable therapy to support the process of healing.
4. Improve security.
You may be concerned about finding new tenants for your property, mainly if it was the scene of a homicide or a break-in. You can mitigate these concerns by implementing security measures, such as installing security cameras and contracting a security company to monitor the premises. If someone broke in, it’s a good idea to replace all locks, add deadbolts to doors, and replace old windows with reinforced glass. You may also join or start a neighborhood watch program.
Coping with a crime on your rental property can be stressful and time-consuming. Taking appropriate steps after the crime occurs can help reduce your stress and restore your property.