HOW SAFE IS YOUR BUILDING?
A Mann Report Management Article
by Lawrence Dolin
Most apartment and condominium buildings are reasonably secure and safe. However, you should be aware of and periodically review the security and safety of your apartment and apartment building.
In rental buildings, the building owner and management are responsible for security. In condominiums, suite security is typically an owner concern and the condominium corporation is responsible for common areas – including exterior doors and windows and corridor doors to individual apartments. Your best defense is to know about and use the security and safety features in your building and surrounding spaces. Be alert and prevent dangerous situations before they occur. Remember, when dealing with security, an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure.
Many methods are used to keep apartments and apartment buildings secure from trespassing, theft and vandalism. Security devices, access controlled entrances, CCTV, and interactive systems (with a central station) and well-lit common spaces all contribute to a secure building.
The landlord or the condominium corporation (often through a property manager) is usually responsible for building security. Typically this involves:
• ensuring that security systems meet or exceed security requirements for apartment buildings;
• ensuring that security systems provide reasonable protection for all residents – in their apartments and in common areas, such as parking garages and elevators;
• conducting regular inspections to spot and fix security problems;
• dealing with complaints about dangerous situations, suspicious activities or broken security items.
Building Entry System
The front door entry intercom system of most apartment buildings allows a resident to remotely let guests into the building. These systems are only effective if the front door locking system functions and intruders cannot take advantage of an open door to enter the building.
When you activate the front door entry system, make sure you know who is asking to come in and remind them to close the door behind them. Would-be intruders will sometimes buzz different apartments until someone lets them in. Always be sure that you know the person before you let them into the apartment building. If you are unsure, don’t let them in. A video intercom is always preferable to audio only.
95% of apartment building crime begins at the front entry
Many apartment building managers and owners recognize that front lobby safety is critical to ensuring security for their building. They have installed access control and CCTV systems that prevent loitering in their lobbies and notify them if front entry doors are forced open or left ajar. New systems, such as the Video Doorman™ Safe Lobby System, are now available that can perform these functions on a proactive basis using monitoring services and the internet.
• Always look and see who is in the elevator before entering. If you feel uncomfortable, do not enter the elevator. Wait for the next one.
• Stand beside the control panel in the elevator and know how to use the emergency alarm button.
• If a suspicious person enters the elevator, leave before the door closes.
Parking Garage Security
• If possible, use the parking garage during periods of high use when others are around.
• Watch for suspicious persons as you enter the parking garage. Drive back out if you are concerned.
• Park near exit doors or the elevator foyer, if possible.
• Park in well-lit areas.
• Walk in the center of the garage.
• Ask building management to install security cameras and emergency call alarm stations to improve security and personal safety.
Report burned-out and broken lights in common areas, such as corridors, stairwells, garbage rooms, laundry areas, parking garages and outdoor areas. If your building is equipped with security cameras or alarm stations, make sure you know where they are and how to use them in emergencies. Report any suspicious or unfamiliar people loitering inside or outside the building to the building management.
The safety of the neighborhood has an effect on your building’s security. To find out if your building and neighborhood are safe, contact your local police department at its non-emergency number. Many police departments have websites with information about criminal incidents. Police departments will review your building’s security. Get involved with a neighborhood watch-type program or start one yourself.