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Condo Scene: Locking in security


Locking in security

Having a doorman or concierge is one way to increase security in a condo, but residents need to take some responsibility themselves.

The great debate on condo living for those who have lived in detached homes is whether it will intensify interactions with neighbours. Private people may fear moving to a condo will bring a level of intrusiveness, while others think it will enhance their sense of security.

The best part about closer quarters is that condo communities often become like extended families, where the members look out and care for one another. This can give residents a real sense of security and many seek this kind of environment when purchasing a new condo.

This is not to say that the facility itself cannot offer privacy. You are particularly able to maintain a higher level of privacy if your unit has amenities that allow you to avoid common areas. For example, terraces mean that you do not have to visit rooftop or courtyard gardens for exposure to the outdoors.

Of course there is a flip side to this coin; many people want social interaction and an active community life within the convenience of their building, especially as temperatures drop. It’s lovely to chat with 16B while waiting for the elevator or find out how 10C’s children are doing at college while collecting your mail. The upshot is that you can be as involved in your building community as you would like.

Whether or not you have close friends living in your building, you can achieve a high level of security. Consider developing a neighbourhood watch-type program, where friends check on each other’s units when someone is out of town.

If you would rather leave your security to building design and security staff, this is another option. Here are some things to consider to ensure your building offers maximum security.

Hold the door

Even in a building with a concierge and entry codes, part of the security rests with residents. I enter many condos each week where people hold the door open for me, often with a smile and never asking, “Who are you?”

Though the door openers are being friendly and helpful, they really need to ask the important question. In large developments, it’s highly unlikely you will get to know every neighbour so it behooves you to find out if they live in the building before admitting them.

It really is up to condo residents and their guests to make sure the entrance opens only for authorized visitors. Some people may feel awkward about not holding a door open, but this one thing is an extremely important issue that all condo buildings should discuss at length. Everyone must do his or her part as a team to make the building secure.

The drive-in

The same principles apply when entering or exiting your garage. Two condo developments I know of had intruders enter via the buildings’ garages after residents drove in or out. When the door closes automatically behind you, it’s easy to drive off without another thought about the garage. You’re ready to go and on your way — why look back?

The buildings in question eliminated this avenue to crime by placing cameras by the garage doors and instructing residents to watch the doors close behind them. In addition, the condo corporation installed locks on all interior doorways. But instead of waiting for a problem like this, be proactive.

Today developers are continually considering new ways to make residents feel safe. Some have well-lit garages, which were not the norm years go. Other buildings have emergency phone stations in common areas. And still others have concierge services to help residents and make the entire development feel more secure.

Basically, there is something for everyone — regardless of personality. When shopping for a condo, make sure you explore the security issues and concerns associated with the neighbourhood and get the lowdown on the security being offered by the developer you choose.

Marilyn Wilson has been selling real estate for more than 25 years and owns Marilyn Wilson Dream Properties Inc. Christie’s International Real Estate. Reach her through

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