Hint: It’s not what you think.
We have cameras because they’re very, very useful in resolving disputes with tenants. Here are a few examples:
- We had a tenant in 2516 Kent St. who insisted that she didn’t have a dog. She hadn’t disclosed a dog when she applied for the apartment and certainly hadn’t paid a pet deposit. So it was awesome to be able to email her 5 video clips of her walking a pit bull out of her unit to the backyard (presumably to have it crap there and not pick up after it) and then back to her unit.
- That same tenant also swore up and down that she lived alone. So it was, again, awesome to be able to send her 5 clips of the three other people she had living with her in her one bedroom apartment (along with the pit bull!).
- Another tenant claimed the gate of our building had suddenly slammed closed, damaging her car. She wanted thousands of dollars to pay for repairs. So we sent her a clip of her opening the gate with her remote, driving half-way through, stopping her car, answering a cell call, and talking for 5 minutes or so before the gate closed on her car.
I just wish we had had cameras when one of our tenants invited some guests into a building, guests who proceeded to vandalize the backyard furniture. This tenant was paying $550 / month for a $1,250 apartment. Video of that incident would have been worth probably $50,000 to me, in the form of a swift nuisance eviction.
If you’re trying to run clean, quite, nice buildings you need to make sure that you keep an eye on things. And there’s no better way to do that with a small staff than to install some unobtrusive cameras.