Promoting Safety and Preventing Property Damage

Written by Lewis Fein Posted On Tuesday, 18 February 2020 05:30

When touring a property is tantamount to suffering an injury while on the grounds of a given property, when property damage is what happens to a person rather than what a person does to a property, when a property is a source of accidents, real estate agents have a duty to protect themselves and their clients.

Regardless of what the law requires, the real estate industry needs to be at the forefront of safety.

Regardless of what the law says about assumption of risk, real estate agents owe it to themselves to do what is right.

They owe it to themselves to maintain the trust they enjoy, the honor they possess, and the referrals they continue to receive. Because all of these things can collapse, because all of these things will collapse—with the speed and finality of a controlled demolition—unless real estate agents and property owners make safety their top priority.

According to Howard P. Lesnik, an injury law expert and member of the New Jersey Association of Justice, the real estate industry can set an example or be an example. 

That is to say, the industry can lead a campaign for safety or isolate itself as a holdout amidst a campaign to improve safety.

That the choice is obvious does not mean every industry will choose wisely. But I know and work with enough real estate professionals to know this: Real estate agents and developers and property owners are too smart not to take Mr. Lesnik’s advice. They are too savvy not to listen to a lawyer whose counsel is sound, whose reputation is strong, whose record is solid.

I write these words with the benefit of personal experience, as I also have a law degree.

I write these words with the hope that the real estate industry will advance the cause of safety.

The rewards of this effort would exceed the cost of retrofitting this building or renovating that property, because an industry that protects its clients is an industry that attracts more clients.

People value businesses that defend certain values, despite the lowering of expectations, the erosion of expectations, or a lack of expectations on behalf of the pubic.

If cynicism plagues the public, if the public is cynical about how businesses behave, if businesses do nothing to change the public’s attitude toward business in general, safety will worsen and distrust will harden into bedrock.

Such will be the foundation that governs society.

The real estate industry cannot afford to do business in such a society. No business can survive in such a society, where accidents are commonplace and leadership is so uncommon as to seem accidental; an aberration rather than an act of assurance.

Let the real estate industry do the right thing. 

Let it embrace safety, thereby proving that common sense has more currency than dollars and cents.

Let it put morals ahead of money, and succeed beyond what any accountant can calculate or any chief financial officer can tabulate.

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