Whether you live in an urban high-rise in the heart of a large city, or in a more spread-out suburban HOA development, security—for both property and physical safety—is an important issue in any condo community. Who can come in, at what times, how long they can stay, and how freely they can move about the property is of concern to any conscientious board/ management team. In order to maintain a safe, secure building or association, administrators must draft and enforce clear rules regarding non-resident visitors and guests—while at the same time not overreaching and attempting to regulate how unit owners conduct themselves in their own apartments
The sheer number of residents living in any one building can be the greatest impediment to safety. All it takes is one person to hit the buzzer and let in a presumed pizza-delivery guy, and the next thing you know, a rash of burglaries goes down. This is the main reason why boards are so strict when it comes to guests. Not that your visiting college buddy is going to steal stuff from the apartment down the hall, but that buddy simply doesn’t have as much of a vested interest in keeping the building secure.
“Security is our first concern,” says Jim Stoller, president of The Building Group Inc., a management company in Chicago. “Management and the board must agree on a practical approach to maintain security while still preserving the integrity of the building. There are many ways to create a secure entrance without creating a prison. Today we are more security-conscious than many of the buildings that were built in the ‘20s and ‘30s. We’ve had to change our access points farther towards the public area and restrict many of the areas that at one time had been open or more accessible.”
“Security in any large city is one of the highest concerns with residents, as they must feel safe in their own homes,” adds Keith J. Hales, president of Chicago-based Hales Property Management in Chicago. “To ultimately limit risk and keep owners safe, boards should implement a security screening system to help keep track of any non-residents. Even a basic sign-in sheet or other form of security such as adding a camera system helps to keep everyone honest and gives the perception of a secure building if nothing else.”
An additional issue is that owners care a lot more about the building than people who are in the building for a week or two, who are less likely to abide by the rules. Illegal sublettors have even less incentive to follow the rules. Again—this is not to say that all guests and sublettors will trash the joint, but to stress that the only people who have real incentive to adhere to the rules are the owners of the apartment.