The rise of Airbnb, Inc. and its competitors reveals a new set of challenges for high-rise communities. As a board member and resident, here's how you can plan for the unexpected and keep your building in check during growing wave of "invisible tourists." 

Resident Safety

One of the great benefits of living in a high-rise community is the on-site personnel. They know which newspaper you prefer, how you like to be greeted, the unique services you require and a lifestyle that goes far beyond ordinary service. In other words, they know the faces of your building. Moreover, they recognize the unfamiliar. hr_security_airbnb_article.jpg

From the doorman, valet and security to the concierge, not only are they proactive in providing quality service, they're hyperaware of your surroundings (and have a plan in place) to ensure the safety of each resident. 
On the other hand, you don't have to be on the board or on-site personnel to sound the alarm. Residents can get in on protecting their community, too. No matter how you belong, you most certainly have the right to report suspicious persons or activity if it means keeping you and neighbors safe.

Airbnb, Inc. & Its Competitors

You may be aware of companies like Airbnb, Inc., HomeAway™  and VRBO®, and their gradual effect on high-rises short-term rentals in Texas. Unlike residents, these "invisible tourists" didn't sign on a dotted line, agree to your CC&Rs or contribute to your community's budget. So, what can you do to protect yourself and your building? 
  • Regularly audit unit and storage fobs assigned to residents and personnel.
  • Get to know a resident. Having a trusted neighbor monitor your home while you're away helps build community trust and awareness.
  • Cover your windows. You may live feet in the air, but you can never be too careful when it comes to protecting your residents and their property.
  • Don't hold the door open for strangers. As Texans, we pride ourselves on southern hospitality, but safety is something we take seriously, too. Whether or not an unfamiliar face is honestly seeking assistance, our alert on-site personnel will direct them to the right resource. 
  • Amend governing documents. As states across the country wrestle with the line between homeownership and property rights, there are things your board can discuss, including transient rentals, resident rights, liabilities and more.

Active Shooter Preparedness

Having a birds-eye view of the city below doesn't always equal safety. To prepare your community:
  • Implement and regularly communicate with residents about an exit strategy. Use this universal guide to set a blueprint.
  • Provide law enforcement training to educate residents about ways to protect themselves.
  • Participate in local "Coffee With A Cop" socials to stay updated on what's happening in your community.
  • As a board, talk with residents about local crime and assure them you're working to find a solution. Be sure to communicate that solution, too. When residents know what's happening in their community, they'll be more alert.
  • Regularly communicate and, if necessary, refine your exit strategy with the general manager.
Regardless of where you call home, and despite recent Texas legislature rulings about short-term rentals, everyone has a part to play in keeping their community safe. So long as communication is frequent, residents are engaged with law enforcement and safety measures are implemented or refined, your building's chances of minimizing risk and maximizing safety become that much greater.
Tuesday March 17, 2020