Even the most well-oiled machine is bound to run into a few hiccups from time to time. When one of your tenants has a maintenance issue, you rely on your maintenance technicians to resolve the problem in a timely manner.
But what happens when a resident accuses a maintenance technician of committing theft? Allegations like these can forever damage the trust between you, your employees, and your tenants. That’s not an issue you can just call a technician to patch up.
Your residents rely on you to provide them not only with living spaces but also a sense of security. Meanwhile, your employees expect to be able to work unburdened by the fear of unfounded accusations. Here’s how to preserve your relationship with your residents and employees, while properly addressing theft complaints.
Trust Your Employees, but Keep Them Accountable
By the time you’ve hired a maintenance technician, you’ve already thoroughly vetted them to ensure they’re not the type of person to harm you, your property, or your residents.
Nevertheless, your responsibility is to keep your community safe, and even though you trust your employees, it’s still important to hold them accountable. So how do you remain privy to your employees’ actions without breathing down their necks? The answer is much simpler and less Big Brother than you might think.
Every time a tech enters a specific building or unit, it’s important to document when they accessed the area and why. This is why there’s no more efficient security tool than an intuitive key control system that details precisely who took a key, when, and why.
In the event one of your employees does intend to steal something from someone’s home, they’re more likely to be dissuaded by the knowledge that any theft could be easily traced back to them via an automatically updated digital audit trail.
Another upside to key management is the autonomy it gives maintenance techs. One source of job dissatisfaction among techs is an inability to do their job without proof of supervision or other documentation that could protect them from allegations of theft. With key control, maintenance personnel can assist your residents without needing to worry about false allegations in the future. The result is a comfortable, confident employee working to the best of their abilities.
Whether it’s your employment screening process, records of notices you send to residents, or time-stamped key logs, the more information you can collect, the better the situation you put yourself in.
Listen to Your Residents, but Show Them the Facts
What about when one of your tenant’s possessions does go missing? Unfortunately, their instinct may be to point fingers at one of your employees.
Sometimes, a renter’s property disappearing is the result of their own forgetfulness, not malicious intent from a maintenance technician. If anyone commits a crime, it’s actually more likely to be someone the resident already knows.
At this point, it may seem like your key management system has failed, but it’s just the opposite. Key control isn’t simply preventative; it can also be remedial. Hear out your renter’s complaint and show them you understand why they’re upset. Ask them for specific information about when or where they last saw the lost item, where they have checked for it, and whether they have any evidence of theft. Remember, it never hurts to gather more information.
If your resident remains unconvinced, show them the detailed records of who used the key to their unit and why.
There’s the possibility that consulting the digital key control logs will reveal your employee is guilty of wrongdoing (e.g., if they took a key for an unauthorized reason), at which point you can take the appropriate disciplinary or legal action. However, chances are you’ll instead demonstrate to the resident that you’ve implemented a system to discourage employee theft.
A back-and-forth argument full of speculation and hearsay accomplishes nothing and can only hurt your relationship with your tenant. Key control won’t magically find the resident’s missing item, but it can alleviate a great deal of anxiety.
The Importance of Trust
As you know, your profession hinges on a delicate balance of trust between you, your maintenance technicians, and your residents. Your residents depend on you to provide them with high-quality living accommodations. You rely on maintenance technicians to address problems that threaten that quality of living. Finally, your employees trust both you and your tenants to let them do their job without fear of wrongful accusations.
If any thread in this web of trust is broken, it creates hostility. Key control gives you peace of mind that your community is a safe place employees want to work and residents want to live.