Loss Control Tips: Residential Property Management Companies

Managing a property—whether it be an apartment, condominium or similar dwelling—can be a challenge, particularly from a risk management standpoint.

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Joe McKnight, J.D.



Managing a property—whether it be an apartment, condominium or similar dwelling—can be a challenge, particularly from a risk management standpoint. Even if a property manager only looks after a single space, they face numerous exposures—exposures that can come from a variety of sources and lead to thousands of dollars in damages and loss of income potential in an instant. This resource provides a summary of common risks property managers must address and includes helpful strategies they can use to prevent claims.

Water Damage

Water is one of the most common causes of property damage. Water damage is not only expensive—it can also create potential health risks. What’s more, an incident in one unit can easily affect other areas of your building, including common areas and other residents’ apartments.

  • Make sure sump pumps are in working order.
  • Inspect roofs to verify that draining systems are clear of debris and functioning properly.
  • Identify areas of your building that are susceptible to unusual amounts of snow or rainfall.
  • Evaluate windows often. Reapply caulk and repair sealants during window inspections.
  • Assess exterior walls after prolonged or intense periods of rain.
  • Clear drains, gutters and downspouts of debris.
  • Ensure that appliances, as well as kitchen and bathroom fixtures, are in good working order and do not leak water.
  • Establish procedures residents can use to report water damage concerns.
  • Develop a water damage prevention and response plan.
  • Document water damage when it occur

Fire Damage

Unlike with stand-alone homes, fires in apartments and condos can affect multiple residents at once—even displacing hundreds of individuals at a time. Property owners and managers must maintain safe conditions for occupants by accounting for a variety of potential fire hazards.

  • Ensure your building’s address is clearly visible, making it easy for firefighters and other emergency personnel to find your property.
  • Ensure that smoke detectors are in working order on a regular basis.
  • Check that access to fire hydrants is unobstructed (e.g., snow accumulation, bushes and vehicles).
  • Prohibit open-flame grills on balconies and patios, and within 10 feet of the building.
  • Work with a fire protection company to determine what type of devices, alarms, extinguishers and sprinklers you need.
  • Remove all dead vegetation, dry leaves and pine needles from your property’s yard, and the building’s roof and gutters.
  • Ensure fire extinguishers of appropriate size and type are available at all times. Inspect fire extinguishers on a regular basis.
  • Implement a maintenance and service program for fire and smoke alarms to ensure they are in proper working condition.
  • Check that means of egress are clear and unobstructed.
  • Create a fire plan that accounts for preventive and evacuation strategies.