Do you have trap queens living in your apartment properties? Before you quickly shake your head no, read on.
It’s often assumed that drug dealers, gang members, prostitution rings (or as they call them in polite circles, “escort services”) and those who live on the edge of the law are found in C and D class properties. The true facts are: drug dealers, gang members, escort services and convicted felons can be found in all classes of multifamily properties, including brand new, Class-A high-rises.
Really? Even in high-end, Class-A properties? Yes. Why? Because they have ready cash and know people in high rent districts attract less scrutiny. Profitable hustlers drive nice cars, wear $500 Brunello Cucinelli shoes and may actually separate their personal lives from their business. The not-so-well off, will often have the busy apartment with flurries of activity, parties and frequent visitors coming and going. Rarely do our TV stereotypes match with real life.
But, you do thorough background checks, right? Perhaps, you run an application and a legal check on the primary applicant? What about other tenants who may reside in the same apartment and under the radar? This is where professional apartment property management can save apartment owners a great deal of headache, heartache and mitigate risk.
What is a Trap Queen?
In 2014, rapper Fetty Wap wrote the song “Trap Queen” to extol the virtues of his girlfriend and loyal drug-dealing assistant. In the apartment world today, we think of a trap queen as a female who has a conviction-free background and acceptable credit who can pass application screenings, and who then provides a home base for her criminal boyfriend and illegal activities.
6 Ways to Spot a Trap Queen and Illegal Activities in a Multifamily Property
- Good practice is to run an application, credit report and criminal background on all residents over the age of 18. This can quickly weed out those who are potential trouble to a peaceful community.
- Document all registered residents for each lease. Effective professional property management gets to know residents on a personal basis and monitors who is coming and who is going.
- Register vehicles for each unit with license number, make and model. Make note of unidentified vehicles and those with expired or temporary tags. Especially those vehicles remaining on the property longer than 7 days. Assigned parking is also another effective tool for monitoring vehicle traffic.
- Creating a detailed rental criteria sheet and adhering to those stringent standards allows management to effectively look out for the property owner’s best interest.
- Look for subtle and not so subtle signs of gang activity: different colors of lights outside of units; shoes over electrical lines, items left in windows such as feathers.
- Utilize your maintenance team for maximum effect. Schedule quarterly unit inspections to change A/C filters and smoke detector batteries. Take note of the state of unit. Are there people that come and go that management does not recognize? If you have a courtesy officer on site, expect them to know everyone as well.
- Schedule regular pest control treatments and have your vendor report signs of illegal or undesirable activity.
There is a fine line between protecting residents and protecting civil rights. Laws vary by state, but statutes are increasingly limiting the reasons why someone may be denied a lease. If someone made a mistake ten years ago, paid the price and had no additional transgressions, they certainly deserve a chance at a fresh start. On the other hand, someone with no criminal record who is simply fronting for bad actors needs to be avoided. Think of it in terms of what other residents in the community will find acceptable.
In Texas apartment management, we believe in giving people a fair shake. We also do our homework and we follow the law. Many factors are taken into consideration when evaluating prospective residents including past criminal convictions, the severity and date of crimes, credit history, rental history and references. There is no perfect solution to avoiding trap queens, but paying close attention will expose them soon enough.
You can read more about our team at Better World Properties LLC and the Better World Family of Companies and the professional property management services we offer at this link.
Is your property being professionally managed to help mitigate your risk? Would you like to evaluate your apartment property portfolio for processes and performance improvements?
Give us a call. Better yet, come visit. We love to talk apartments.