LIVERMORE -- Problem tenants can be a major headache for property managers, but getting rid of them is not always easy. Evictions can take months and often require landlords to jump through many hoops before giving residents the boot.
But a program recently launched by the Livermore Police Department seeks to reduce problems at apartment complexes by sharing more information between police and property managers and teaching landlords how to conduct a proper background check.
"Apartment complexes that create a safe environment have less calls for service and tenants who are happier and tend to stay longer," said Officer Steve Goard, a spokesman for the Livermore Police Department.
The new program is called Crime-Free Multi-Housing and was started this January. So far, four apartment complexes have enrolled, although Livermore police hope more properties take advantage in the coming months.
As part of the class, property managers are given a sample "crime-free lease addendum" that spells out which crimes will result in immediate eviction. That involves things like shootings, criminal threats, selling drugs or prostitution, creating a "zero-tolerance" policy for activities that make other tenants feel unsafe and can attract future problems.
Property managers also learn about how things like more lighting and trimmed-back shrubbery can reduce crime and make tenants feel safer. Upon completion, complexes become certified with the police department and receive a Crime-Free Multi-Housing decal to be prominently displayed at their properties.
One Livermore apartment complex that recently signed up is Carmen Avenue Apartments, whose property manager first learned about Crime-Free Multi-Housing while working in San Leandro.
"The best part of the program is the open communication it creates," said Lena Ortiz, who has managed Carmen Avenue Apartments since December 2012. "(In San Leandro) I would get monthly reports about all the calls for service from our complex and arrests, and with that, I was often able to start the eviction process."
Crime-Free Multi-Housing was created in 1992 in Mesa, Ariz., and today is used by more than 2,000 police departments around the country as well as several overseas. Pleasanton, Dublin and San Ramon already offer the program and post the names of complexes that have completed certification on city websites. Doing so is a way properties can show future tenants they're serious about preventing crime, Goard said.
"We absolutely know that this program works," he said.
For more information about Crime Free Multi-Housing, contact the Livermore Police Department at 925-371-4978.
Contact Karina Ioffee at 650-576-9626. Follow her at Twitter.com/kioffee.