May – 2015

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If You Are Not Aware, Somebody Is Watching You! Adopt policies To Avoid Public Relations Nightmare
Finding Your Balance When You Unplug

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Volume 16 • Issue 5 May 2015 Landlord News 3600 South Yosemite Street Suite 828, Denver, Colorado 80237 Denver Phone 303.766.8004 FAX Completed Eviction Forms To: 303.766.1181 or 303.766.1819 Colorado Springs Phone 719.550.8004 FAX Completed Eviction Forms To: 719.227.1181 IF YOU ARE NOT AWARE, SOMEBODY IS WATCHING YOU! ADOPT POLICIES TO AVOID PUBLIC RELATIONS NIGHTMARE Some claim that the average urban American is photographed or videotaped 75 times a day. Inexpensive digital photography and video equipment have crept into all aspects of our daily lives and are here to stay. Inexpensive digital video now streams to the cloud for storage and access 24/7 on any computer or mobile device. Accordingly, the probability of a community employee being subject to live video monitoring when they enter a tenant’s apartment is substantial, and becomes greater every day. A number of video “situations” have hit the THS situation board. Specifically, tenants have complained to onsite management, including threatening legal action in some instances, because onsite team members have engaged in inappropriate behavior while inside of a tenant’s unit during maintenance or inspection. Most of these issues have not dealt with blatantly criminal behavior like theft or damage to the tenant’s property. The most common complaint from tenants, with hidden video cameras, is that an employee is exercising a more than appropriate interest in the tenant’s personal property. Tenants produce videos of staff members going through their clothing, drawers, refrigerators, music and video collections, and otherwise just plain snooping. These videos can create the impression that the staff member is “casing” the unit for later criminal activity or stalking the tenant. Under Colorado law, a landlord’s right to enter continued on page 2 FINDING YOUR BALANCE WHEN YOU UNPLUG Welcome to the new world of work, where 5:30 p.m. is far from the end of the day. It is a world in which smart-phones, iPads and laptop computers — devices that ostensibly enable us to work faster, more efficiently and more flexibly — have become 24/7 intravenous hookups to our jobs. Not only do we have difficulty maintaining personal boundaries with work because our lives and jobs are so enmeshed with technology, but we also feel intense pressure from our organizations to be “always on” and immediately responsive to calls and emails outside of normal working hours. Many of us can sympathize with this scenario. We are all are strapped at the hip with smartphones or tablets, and bombarded with email that never seems to stop filling our inboxes. Everyone needs to recognize that your device isn’t an evil master in and of itself. But it can run roughshod over you if you let it. The line between work and leisure has been blurring for years All work and no play does not create a good or optimal work/life balance. Because most multi-family rental industry professionals have a strong work ethic and a desire to stay caught up and “on-top of things” they become guilty of consistently extending ‘already’ long days into the evening and weekend by catching up on email and calls from home. And yet, this dedication to the job does not necessarily translate into increased productivity. Numerous studies have shown that psychological detachment from work during non-work time is important for employee health. If people are drained and getting burned out, they are not bringing their best selves to work continued on page 2 IF YOU ARE NOT AWARE, SOMEBODY IS WATCHING YOU! ADOPT POLICIES TO AVOID PUBLIC RELATIONS NIGHTMARE continued from page 1 a tenant’s apartment is entirely dependent on the terms of the lease agreement. Historically there was a legal presumption that all rights of possession of a property were transferred to the tenant when a landlord leased that property to the tenant. Consequently, without a contrary agreement in the lease, a Colorado landlord has no right to enter a tenant’s apartment unit. Most leases allow a landlord to enter for most reasonable business purposes, including maintenance and inspection. However, we’ve never seen a lease that authorizes a landlord to go through a tenant’s possessions. However, no matter how broad your right to enter a tenant’s rental unit, it doesn’t cover the overzealous observation of the tenant’s personal property by an onsite team member. Such conduct is a clear breach of any lease agreement. Some states have modified a landlord’s right to re-enter a tenant’s rental unit by severely restricting the landlord’s right and ability to enter or re-enter a rental unit. These states have imposed a burdensome regulatory framework that describes when a landlord may or may not enter a leased property. In addition to impacting management’s ability to efficiently perform maintenance, these laws also impose liability on landlords for wrongful entry, or entry made without proper notice. We are exposed to the landlord and tenant laws of other states daily. Landlords have it good in Colorado. Colorado has some of the most reasonable landlord tenant laws in the country. Colorado does not take on the difficult (impossible) job of describing in detail the appropriate circumstances and notice for every possible landlord re-entry into a rental unit. Rather, in Colorado, a landlord’s right to enter a rented apartment, is created and limited by the parties in the lease agreement. Bad legislation can easily be born from a few highly publicized cases or tragedies. One bad video playing on the news and then over and over on the Internet could result in legislation that could dramatically increase the cost of maintaining apartment units. continued on page 3 FINDING YOUR BALANCE WHEN YOU UNPLUG continued from page 1 every day. It has a huge effect on their creativity, their energy, their productivity and their ability to innovate. Although using technology to increase communication, productivity and efficiency can produce results, it some times may be more productive to go “old-school” and occasionally unplug in on order to gain a new level of focus and energy. Studies consistently show that taking a break from being plugged into work 24/7 ultimately results in increased effectiveness when on the job. Employees who regularly utilize their downtime report greater satisfaction with their jobs, increased likelihood that they could envision a long-term career at their company and a better overall work/life balance. The fact is, work and personal life are very much intertwined, and we have to figure out how those two things can coexist in a way that doesn’t stress us out. People are going to have to learn new coping behaviors for this age of technology, so they don’t burn out. There is a need to also recognize that there is a saturation point; there are only so many hours in the day.” It is important for employees to enjoy downtime – time with family, time to relax, time to have fun or time to just do nothing. Everyone needs to recharge their batteries or they burn out. Everybody in the rental industry recognizes that onsite staff must have the ability to communicate with and respond to residents 24/7, but unless there is a real after-hours emergency (fire, flood or crime), things can usually wait until the following day. When you are on call you should be on but when you are off you should really be off and unplugged. A real attainable goal of management companies should be to provide a workplace for employees to enjoy being able to demonstrate a commitment to a work/life balance, where it is acceptable to work hard and play hard. An emerging and winning management strategy within the apartment industry is the fostering of workplace environments that diminish or eliminate the belief that the only way to get ahead or be promoted is to be available and dedicated to the job 24/7 It is now a recognized fallacy that people who “turn-off” after normal work hours are not dedicated or focused and smart. Successful management teams are recognizing that the well-balanced member of their staff is both the happiest and most productive. There is no question that regular downtime and being “unplugged” leads to greater productivity – A WIN WIN for both work and home. Landlord News May 2015 Page 2 IF YOU ARE NOT AWARE, SOMEBODY IS WATCHING YOU! ADOPT POLICIES TO AVOID PUBLIC RELATIONS NIGHTMARE continued from page 2 In addition to altering the industry negatively for everyone, the list of potentially bad consequences to your individual community is long. It doesn’t take much of a leap of imagination for a tenant to claim that a video of an unprofessional inspection serves as evidence of an employee’s involvement with a later theft (real or falsified). Tenants could also use videos to break their lease. If onsite team members do inappropriate things in a tenant’s unit, the tenant will argue that this is a clear breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment. Because everyone thinks that somebody rifling through their belongs is an unacceptable violation of someone’s privacy, many judges may agree, and conclude that a tenant is justified in breaking their lease when onsite team members are caught on video doing inappropriate and unacceptable things inside the tenant’s unit. Potential fair housing liability is also significant. A protected class member could easily argue that the community is providing different maintenance “terms, conditions, and privileges” when onsite team members are captured on video violating the tenant’s privacy. This type of video would be particularly damming if other tenants had hidden video cameras, but none of them complained. It then looks like the team member is only violating the privacy of the tenant because of their protected class status. Tenant videos could also make it more difficult to defend fair housing complaints. Tenants frequently lie in connection with fair housing complaints to bolster their complaint by attempting to make onsite team members appear racist. For example, tenants will allege that a maintenance tech hurled a racial slur or epithet at the tenant. We usually can defend against these types of “he said, she said” fabrications. However, such a lie will be given more credibility, and thus will be much more difficult to defend against, if the tenant has the maintenance tech, who allegedly made the racial slur, on video disrespecting the tenant’s privacy by going through the tenant’s personal effects on multiple occasions. You should promptly alert your staff members about the possibility of being filmed while they are inside a tenant’s home. Onsite team members should always assume that they are always on camera. When inside a tenant’s unit, onsite team members should always behave as if the tenant was home. Staff should be all business while inside a tenant’s unit. Inspection activity should be clearly focused on the apartment itself rather than the resident’s personal property and should be as un-intrusive as possible for the legitimate purpose being served by the entry. Owners and managers need to adopt these types of SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) policies, including harsh consequences for violations, including termination of employment. Because videos can be instantly uploaded to YouTube or posted on other social media sites, the community can’t tolerate any inappropriate behavior inside a tenant’s unit. The consequences for violation have to be harsh because a single video could quickly turn into a tenant relation’s nightmare. Even worse, the video could be picked up by the news and posted on their website forever. Zero tolerance policies may be necessary or warranted to avoid negative publicity and financial impact on a community that could be caused by a single video. JJJJJJJJJJJ Landlord News May 2015 Page 3 IMPORTANT THS MAY DATES MAY 1Oth MOTHER’S DAY MAY 13TH AAMD Tradeshow Denver Mart & Expo Ctr 451 E 58th Ave Denver, CO MAY 15TH South Client Lunch Dave & Busters Denver 11:15 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. MAY 19TH Evictions Workshop THS Lower Conference Center 3600 S. Yosemite Street Denver, CO 8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. MAY 25TH ALL COURTS CLOSED THS CLOSED MEMORIAL DAY HOLIDAY DOGS vs. CATS DEBATE SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT Top Ten Reasons Why Dogs Are Better Pets Than Cats 1. Dogs will tilt their heads and try to understand every word you say. Cats will ignore you and take a nap. 2. Cats look silly on a leash. 3. When you come home from work, your dog will be happy and lick your face. Cats will still be mad at you for leaving in the first place. 4. Dogs will give you unconditional love until the day they die. Cats will make you pay for every mistake you’ve ever made since the day you were born. 5. A dog knows when you’re sad. And he’ll try to comfort you. Cats don’t care how you feel, as long as you remember where the can opener is. 6. Dogs will bring you your slippers. Cats will drop a dead mouse in your slippers. 7. When you take them for a ride, dogs will sit on the seat next to you. Cats have to have their own private basket, or they won’t go at all.   JJJJJJJJJJJ 8. Dogs will come when you call them. And they’ll be happy. Cats will have someone take a message and get back to you. 9. Dogs will play fetch with you all day long. The only thing cats will play with all day long are small rodents or bugs, preferably ones that look like they’re in pain. 10. Dogs will wake you up if the house is on fire. Cats will quietly sneak out the back door. Landlord News May 2015 Page 4 May 25th, 2015 JJJJJJJJJJJ