RJ Horwitz Landlord Perspectives on Security

RJ Horwitz and Lisa Desrosiers addressed Worcester landlords on surveillance and the ways it has helped them run their properties.

This is part of the Worcester Rental Real Estate Networking and Training series.


[Start 0:00:00]

Rich: I don't know if you can hear me, but they will clap for you. This is RJ Horwitz [applause].

RJ: Hi, everybody. I want to [unintelligible 0:00:17]. This is a great topic. It’s the one that saves tens of thousands of dollars when we implement the policy. The incident behind [unintelligible 0:00:30] security was that we had trouble with tenants [unintelligible 0:00:34]. He went around with a large flat screwdriver, took out 13 air-conditioning vents that we installed per unit.

Rich: [unintelligible 0:00:50].

RJ: Yeah [unintelligible 0:00:48] each to repair and install. At 13, you can have [unintelligible 0:00:58] bill. We try to save on. We’re going to move up with video surveillance procedures that we’re doing to implement, this is [unintelligible 0:01:09] that we set the accounting vouchers and so on. We’re not charging $3,000 a month in rent to whatever they’re charging or whatever involvement with their policy. We are at $450, $550, $600 per month per unit. So that’s our band of 10. When this occurred, when this incident occurred [unintelligible 0:01:32] it’s no longer required to issue [unintelligible 0:01:41] so we started going around and okay who’s providing the video surveillance to the back. Who’s providing the video surveillance for the [unintelligible 0:01:55]? Who’s doing it for the [unintelligible 0:01:55] of the world? We came across this particular vendor that actually [unintelligible 0:02:05] vendor and they happened to have various tears and cuts with it. This was a learning curve that we had to go through. In the next 30 minutes, I hope that I’ll be able to shed some light on that it will be helpful and useful to you all.
The first thing that we’re looking at was what you need to identify what needs to be protected. Are they entry systems we have into the building after the [distortion 0:02:38] is our losses and people are coming in and paying rent. They eliminated a lot of our issues by no longer accepting cash, so people like to do it for cash for various reasons or [unintelligible 0:02:51] sometimes we have them [unintelligible 0:02:53] on a quarterly basis. We [unintelligible 0:02:55] cash. I want to make sure that that feels protected and anyone who walks in there is under video surveillance who tries [unintelligible 0:03:06]. The argument ends. We have it on tape. You have to make proper determination as to angle, what’s the appropriate angle, so you don’t have to grab view it.
We put video surveillance in elevator. We put video surveillance in common areas such as mailboxes, places where people are active or perhaps walk out, but the office is not open where people would go to that they may have an opportunity to be taken advantage of. We want to eliminate that crime or that issue.

Rich: RJ, you had mentioned that you’re collaborating with the local authorities using these exterior cameras. Are you talking about [unintelligible 0:03:50]?

RJ: Sure. We have [unintelligible 0:03:53] outside and of the three actually [unintelligible 0:03:58] in front of our building, and we capture because of our video package is the high-definition video that we actually zoom in and read license plates on the cars a block away.

Rich: That is amazing.

RJ: We have that type of capability. Yes, that might overkill so much but I’d like you to realize that we were forced to have this on the back of a tree. We wanted to have [unintelligible 0:04:30] our footprint if you will. They were standing outside and we had police come by and say did you capture this on your video, and we did, and we were able to not only capture. We were able to record it. Now we’re [unintelligible 0:04:46] drunk driver, and they were able to do what they needed to do.

Rich: What kinds of things have you caught on camera?

RJ: There are things that we caught that we have [unintelligible 0:05:01] in the building. We had people who perhaps have [unintelligible 0:05:03] their medication and decided to go up and down ride the elevator [unintelligible 0:05:16] in the beginning. People might be laughing but it was quite an issue. We turned around and [unintelligible 0:05:31] they cannot buy, they must be [unintelligible 0:05:35]. It will eliminate that. It will eliminate the drug dealers that we have.

Rich: It’s amazing the number of things you have discussed [unintelligible 0:05:42] with certain people.

RJ: Just by having this camera video, one thing is quite is asked a lot. So double cameras were really quite that amazing. We had to turn around the people and say, look if you pick a tape a piece paper, put it against the wall, and it [unintelligible 0:06:01] you, this is the time to make [unintelligible 0:06:04]. This is what we’re doing and the police know about it. You now have 44 hours to kick him out the property. I’m being nice because I can call the police right here and they will have you taken out [unintelligible 0:06:17] have the drugs.
We eliminated all those problems. We had three different apartments maintained. Under the cloak of darkness, the property just picked up and left and we cleaned out [unintelligible 0:06:31] a clean, safe place to live in. yeah, and at what cost? Well, $30,000 [unintelligible 0:06:43] to prevent that from happening. You can get systems from $200 at Wal-Mart, for $30,000 very sophisticated system. We went to something in-between. Yes, we have [unintelligible 0:07:00]. We have the ability to zoom. I don't know if anyone covered that, but we’re able to actually control the camera back and forth through the loop without anybody knowing where the camera is pointed. The point is that it gives you a lot of versatility. It will also give you a lot of for the older residents, they feel much more secure and safe in the property.

Rich: It’s actually a selling point for a lot of people who are moving into your building when they see this sign. I have this sign and people have been impressed. I didn’t have the heart to tell them the pricing to get a full system.

RJ: It actually makes a lot of sense. You’re right. We actually had a focus on audiovisual surveillance 24/7 and what happens is we actually print and enhance it and we call [unintelligible 0:07:50]. You can’t do this. It’s warning – well I play baseball. It’s like strike 1, strike 2, strike 3 you’re out. Each one has [unintelligible 0:07:58]. Each one is documented if we go to trial. There’s no issues. There are court issues. There’s no [unintelligible 0:08:06]. They know they’re caught. What happens is that the community itself, the community itself that’s part of the people who live there know there’s a surveillance [unintelligible 0:08:21] their monkey business go out. You can’t get away with this stuff because they’re watching. You got to get the message down and change the culture, and by changing the culture, this is the method, the [unintelligible 0:08:30] thing that maybe I shouldn’t do this right in the elevator or maybe I shouldn’t urinate in the hallway.

Rich: Maybe you shouldn’t do that.

RJ: Yeah, and you can charge them for doing that and it will eliminate all those issues. It will go away.

Rich: That’s awesome. Can you tell us, RJ, can you look at what the cameras are seeing from your cellphone?

Rich: Yeah. Well, the technology has improved in the last 3 years [unintelligible 0:09:01]. Right now, we have [unintelligible 0:09:09] transmission and [unintelligible 0:09:11] a lot more sophisticated than others. The situation where the sophistication has actually has improved so everybody that has a smart phone, whether it be Android or Apple, can actually download the app of the video company that connects via Wi-Fi to your system and you can actually see up to 16 cameras, in my cellphone for 16 cameras per site.

Rich: RJ, is the software separate from what’s supplied by the camera company?

RJ: No. It’s part of the iPhone package. Now you could buy cameras. You can add it to hat, depending on your site. [unintelligible 0:09:52] everyone when you look at this, it’s like what is the capacity of your computer? Well, 500 MB, a gigabyte, 50 GB, a terabyte. There are certain sizes that are larger in size, a terabyte, 3 TB now versus 1. They now go to 3 in the last 3 years. What does that allow you at that space is to see all the video that you have coming through all 16 cameras 24/7 for 22 days, 35 days, depending on the size. If it’s 1 TB, it’s 22 days. If it’s 2 TB, it’s 35 days. It’s 42 days if it’s 3 TB. Again, depending on the type of camera, the fidelity of the camera, the pixel of the camera, and all these things have an issue with the safety [unintelligible 0:10:48] that’s available on that VCR.

Rich: RJ, we have somebody here tonight who’s going to be talking about the details of some of those things.

RJ: Okay.

Rich: I’m glad you provided that up. Can you talk about for somebody who have used the system, you’ve gotten the camera company, you’ve gotten the equipment, what advice can you give to folks here in the room what to look for, what to avoid, what would you do differently if you can do it over again?

RJ: What I would look for is a virtual system that allows you to expand the [unintelligible 0:11:12] cameras. If you have eight cameras, you start off with eight, you add another four, you add another eight to the same system without buying a new box. Cameras are relatively expensive $100, $200, $300 each depending on what they do.

Rich: Well, considering the last slides we went over were $11 or $8 options, I think the folks here are going to think that’s relative. Yeah, fit for stopping people from stealing your equipment and a [unintelligible 0:11:47] hasn’t been solved yet and stuff like that, you can save big money, too.

RJ: Yeah, you can save big money exactly. The other thing I’m going to say is that this equipment lets you secure an insecure area, we actually have a problem in the office where there is a dedicated fuse box and dedicated router with batteries backup. The camera itself is on that box [unintelligible 0:12:20] in the photographs of our office management in there is by talking to [unintelligible 0:12:25] paying rent or putting it wherever it happens to be, but also it’s protecting that area. Again [unintelligible 0:12:40].
Going back to your question about some things that I will avoid, what I will avoid is buy a system outright. I would do this through a lease through a company that is direct right off to the corporation to the company. I am not sure about what you want to do, I’m going to start with an inexpensive system [unintelligible 0:13:08] visible public area or location. Once you get stable, then go up. I would make sure that the contract you write with these companies that there is a time limit that they’re going to install it within the next 5 weeks, that [unintelligible 0:13:22] that you’re going to take some type of discount [unintelligible 0:13:28] save it.

Rich: Now you’re speaking my language. I don't know why you bring that up, RJ. I never contract with anybody and have not it done thoroughly and less than I ask for.

RJ: Well, let me

Rich: Okay, now that’s backwards. Nothing ever gets done on time and always the price always goes up.

RJ: Let me explain that [unintelligible 0:13:46] that people who rent on your property. I got roughly 110 people, 110 units. Now that you’re installing the system and you say, well, it’s [unintelligible 0:14:58] so I can get away with whatever I can get away because the word gets out. You actually get video surveillance trucks and vans coming and all the rest. You wanted to make sure this thing is up working tentative, that it is approved [unintelligible 0:14:21]. Make it relate but the issue is in my case, we put in the vans another 6 weeks, every 4 months, and in between the 6 weeks and the 4 months, there was an incident and the incident resulted in death. You know that I’m still going to be held accountable. You know the police will be all over the security [unintelligible 0:14:45]. Fortunately, it did not result [unintelligible 0:14:50] it would not result to that, but by the same token, my $32,000 system for that one little occasion went up to $18,000.

Rich: All right, that’s a good buying tip. As we wrap this up – at the end of this, RJ, are you brave enough to give folks your email address if they have questions?

RJ: I’d love to but I don’t have to answer my email. I have [unintelligible 0:15:11] answer my email.

Rich: You know what I’ve noticed that.

RJ: [unintelligible 0:15:22] when you get the right kind of system, determine what that is for your insurance company because they’ll lock you in with a 5 percent discount. Some people say that’s a lot, but I spend [unintelligible 0:15:31] a year premium insurance cost and I save 5 percent; with 5 percent of $36,000, okay?

Rich: That’s awesome.

RJ: Okay?

Rich: Yeah, I’m excited.

RJ: That’s 4 months worth of rent, okay just because I made a phone call and I got the right system that the insurance company now goes by [unintelligible 0:15:52] to install it.

Rich: Wow, okay.

RJ: Okay. So [unintelligible 0:16:00] any questions?

Rich: We don’t have time for questions, so if folks did have a question for you, we’re sure they’ll just catch it at the next meeting.

RJ: Our next meeting, I will be [unintelligible 0:16:15] yeah next month, yeah.

Rich: Okay, all right then. We’ll people bombard you then. Listen, RJ, I know that you’re out of town. I really, really appreciate you for taking the time to give us. Everybody is clapping for you [applause].

RJ: [applause] good luck.

[End 0:16:52]