Homeland Security Warns Landlords in Wake of Bin Laden Death

dangerLandlords have been warned to watch for “radicalized individuals” in the following days and months.

The Homeland Security Secretary spoke with the Building Owners and Managers Association International, which broadcasts terror alerts, and advised that landlords and property management companies should watch for possible terror activity, according to a report by the Washington Business Journal.

DHS has not issued any alerts or elevated the risk level at this time because it has not received any specific or imminent threats.  Government spokespersons have indicated that a well-organized attack is not expected to happen quickly, but lone individuals may attempt to retaliate for the death of bin Laden.

Unfortunately, the DHS announcement is shy on specifics of how to spot a “radicalized individual” and information on that subject is difficult to encapsulate.  Experts agree that there are no tell-tale physical characteristics to watch for — changes in appearance are consistent with non-radicalized persons, too.

However, youth and social exclusion are common traits. Those who have been marginalized are the most likely to be receptive to an extremist ideology.  Also, an outspoken perception of injustice, often at the local level, can be a sign.  Radicalization may include attendance at a known center for radical ideology, frequent or prolonged trips abroad with no work-related purpose, which is of higher concern if the trips are to countries in conflict, a sudden and extreme disfavor of personal habits like gambling, drinking alcohol or smoking, and reclusiveness.

Landlords must be careful to remember that profiling applicants or tenants based on religion, national origin, or perceptions that these characteristics signal a terrorist violates the Fair Housing Act as well as state discrimination laws. Landlords will need to apply a more surgical approach to identify tenants who they fear may be a terror risk.

The best course of action may be to speak with local law enforcement if concerns arise over a specific tenant’s behavior.

With AAOA, landlords have resources at their fingertips. Check out our Landlord Forms page.

American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services for landlords related to your rental housing investment, including rental forms, tenant debt collection, tenant background checks, insurance and financing. Find out more at www.joinaaoa.org.