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Rules for safe condo living

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If you’re planning to move to a condo from a single-family dwelling, make sure you understand the differences of strata living versus independent habitation. Condominium living brings a whole new set of responsibilities as a homeowner because you now have to think about the safety and security of other residents who live in your building.

When living in a multi-housing project there are specific rules, or bylaws, to follow. Often homeowners who move from single-family homes to strata living have a difficult time accepting the rules bestowed on them. But keep in mind these laws were not developed by tyrants; they were thought out and executed by people who care about the welfare and safekeeping of all involved.

Granted most people accept multi-housing living without a hitch, welcoming the lifestyle change with open arms. My concern is not those folks; it’s the people who have difficulty transitioning to a multi-family environment.

They often think, “I own my place and nobody is going to tell me what to do.” If you’re that person, perhaps you may want to continue with single-family living because many security problems are caused by people who have a difficult time making the transition to condo living.

The problem arises when new condo owners don’t respect the common areas of the building, which are shared by all residents. Common areas are the backbone of the building’s security. Any break-in that’s going to happen is most likely linked to one of these areas. Some common areas are the front lobby, garage, amenities room, shared hallways and exercise room. The lockers are another good example of a common area.

There are also what I call “common sense” rules that apply to condo living. Residents need to make sure the entry door to the locker room is secured properly, for example. This may mean locking a deadbolt upon leaving the area. Residents also need to be vigilant against letting unidentified people into the building. If you are entering through the front door of the condominium, make sure nobody sneaks in behind you.

The same common-sense rules apply to the overhead garage door or back doors of the building. You have the added responsibility of making sure every common door you either walk or drive through is secure once you enter or leave the building.

Without a doubt condominium living brings with it a whole new way of life. It’s where many folks end up in their senior years, and why not? Seniors who lived in single-family homes can gain a sense of security from close-quarter living offered by condos. As well, condominiums can offer doormen, 24-hour guard service, video surveillance and phone entry systems.

More and more strata boards today are upgrading security, also referred to in the industry as “target hardening.” This is where the doors are reinforced with security hardware to prevent a burglar from easily breaking into the building.

Because many condominiums have spent substantial money on security upgrades, they have also rewritten their bylaws to penalize individual owners who don’t respect the building’s security. Why spend thousands of dollars on condo security because you have a careless owner on board? This is why rules need to be in place – and enforced – to uphold the safety of the building.

The building's bylaws give the strata board the right to fine any individual for breaking the building rules. The owner or tenant must receive prompt written notice about the complaint from the strata board and must be given enough time to address the complaint before the strata board can begin to impose any fines.

This required process can take some time, but it is important that strata boards follow this process to the letter in order to receive their money and keep their building secure.

Frank Fourchalk is a home security expert with 25 years in the business. E-mail him at Fourchalk@shaw.ca or visit www.yourhomesecurity.ca

 

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