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Housing program » Property management

Crime Free Multi-Housing Program

Schaumburg, Cook County

Goal

Improve safety in rental properties, improve communication and trust between landlords and tenants, enhance the quality of life in the community, empower community leaders/managers, enhance management skills and provide avenues of support for property managers.

Target

Property Managers and Owners

Financing

Part of the Schaumburg Police Department annual budget

  • Employs a full-time police officer to run the Crime-Free Multi-Housing Program.
  • $5,000 per year for all other costs associated with the program

Success

The first five years of the Crime Free Multi-Housing Program have seen a 12 percent reduction of police calls in rental units.

Lessons learned

Sharing of knowledge and establishing trust between law enforcement and property managers contributed to the program’s success.

Program background

Running a multi-family development is much like running a city; conflict resolution, community building and crime prevention can be complex tasks. However, there are simple ways for communities to become more directly involved in their residential properties. In 1999, the Village of Schaumburg initiated the Crime Free Multi- Housing Program (CFMHP), adapted from Mesa, Ariz., where the concept was first created. Initially established as a voluntary educational program for Schaumburg property owners, CFMHP became mandatory in March 2003, as a component of the Village’s revised Residential Rental Ordinance.

How it works

CFMHP requires property owners, managers, leasing staff, maintenance personnel and others in the management team to attend an eight-hour training program. Police officers are encouraged to attend the training to understand the civil nature of rental communities and establish a rapport with managers of rental properties. The training is held at the Schaumburg Police Department and taught by attorneys, along with police and fire personnel. Guest speakers frequently attend to address specific topics relating to rental properties. This police-sponsored program is easy to implement and effective at reducing criminal activity in rental properties.

The Crime Free Multi-Housing Program addresses these topics:

  • Understanding Crime Prevention
  • Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (C.P.T.E.D.) Concepts
  • The Application Process
  • Common Sense Self-Defense
  • Community Rules/Leases
  • Apartment Communities/Not Complexes
  • Active Property Management
  • Combating Crime Problems
  • Police: To Serve and Protect
  • Partnership with Fire Department
  • Dealing with Non-Compliance

Typically, the program is taught during a single day, but there are also opportunities for Saturday or evening sessions. The Schaumburg Police Department provides about 10 trainings per year, with about 200 property owners attending and completing the training each year. In the first five years of CFMHP in Schaumburg, there has been a 12 percent overall reduction of police calls to rental properties. In one apartment community, two years after implementing the ordinance, there was a 52 percent reduction in police calls and the property manager maintained a 94 percent occupancy rate. The costs of CFMHP, employment of a full-time police officer to run the program and $5,000 additional dollars per year for all other expenses, are factored into the Police Department’s annual budget.

CFMHP was the brainchild of Schaumburg police officer John Nebl, who felt the police department should be a liaison between property owners and their residents. Police often responded to disputes between landlords and tenants that were beyond the purview of police intervention; training has reduced these calls. Instead of returning repeatedly to the same few properties, the police department has been able to train property owners with no prior experience in conflict-management and how to reduce or keep crime out of their properties.

CFMHP has also led to several other initiatives. To improve communication between property owners and law enforcement, police officers complete Rental Incident Cards when responding to a call or concern at a rental property. The CFMHP officer forwards the card, which contains a summary report, to the property owners to alert them of nuisance situations and police visits to their property. It also provides the necessary records to help justify a lease termination for individuals associated with recurring incidents, minimizing future conflicts.

In 2003, Schaumburg required that a Crime-Free/Drug-Free Addendum be used with leases; the lease addendum is a civil agreement between the property management and resident, and must be signed by the tenant before a lease is provided. This addendum states that if renters, their family, friends or guests engage in criminal or illegal drug activity, the landlord has the right to negate or revoke the lease.

In order to hold landlords accountable for their properties, the Village established a definition of “Nuisance Property” within its Rental Housing Ordinance, which gives the village manager leeway to suspend or revoke a property owner’s rights to lease or rent properties if they do not maintain adequate property or safety conditions. The Village can fine landlords daily for failure to make necessary repairs.

One continuing challenge regarding this program is that there is not a standardized lease in Schaumburg, so every property manager’s lease is unique. Similarly, the Crime-Free/Drug-Free Addendum does not have standard language. The Village is currently in the process of adopting a standardized addendum that all landlords will need to integrate into their leases. Currently, property owners can either use U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development samples from the seminar or draft their own addendum with similar language.

Public involvement

Some landlords were initially resistant to the idea of required seminars, feeling that it was an unfair requirement. However, many property owners were happy they had attended once it was over. They felt it gave them new information and helped them know how to deal with difficult or problematic tenants.

Contact

Police Department, Village of Schaumburg
847-882-3586, www.ci.schaumburg.il.us

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