Though there is a legal requirement to maintain a safe and secure building, there are a variety of other reasons for security to be a priority in condominiums. These include personal safety, protection of property, parking lot safety, as well as the overall perception of security to potential owners, which can impact attractiveness, market value, and quality of life.
Section 2 of the Condominium Act instructs that condo corporations are responsible for controlling and managing all common elements. Section 5 of the Occupier’s Liability Act confirms that the corporation also has a positive duty to keep the common elements safe for all persons in attendance. Additional laws impacting condo security include the Fire Code, which requires condos to have an up-to-date Fire Safety Plan and quarterly fire drills; the Occupational Health & Safety Act, which states that condo corporations must assess their environment in the context of a “workplace” and must identify risks to all workers, implement policies, protective measures and anti-violence training. The video surveillance systems in most buildings are governed by privacy legislation, setting strict rules for the capture, protection, and release of video images. Corporations are also exposed to civil liability under tort law for negligent acts or omissions. There is a legal duty of care to take all reasonable steps to ensure a safe and secure property environment.
It is important for the corporation to identify security risks. It may be helpful to have a condo security audit performed. Usually this is a two-stage process. The first stage entails identifying security threats and safety hazards. The second stage involves evaluating the current security measures to ensure they provide effective protection in relation to the security risks identified. This security audit is an effective step in making sure that the security measures are in line with the current risks.
Security risks differ between condominiums. Security factors can include: location, owner/renter ratio, resident demographics, and building design.
The four security program functions include: prevention, control, detection, and intervention.
Administrative controls including policies, procedures, and guidelines to set a framework
Physical security controls including locks, lighting, video systems, and alarms
Personnel security controls including actions taken by building staff, security/concierge personnel, residents, and contractors
Each part of the security program should be complimentary and work to increase protection.
Common Security Mistakes In Condominiums Include:
Not conducting a security audit, which can lead to a disconnect between the security program and the building’s risks
Over-reliance on a single security measure (i.e. security camera or guard)
Not engaging residents meaningfully on the topic of security to ensure that they report crimes, suspicious activity, and unsafe conditions
Parking security and safety vulnerabilities
Outdated and ineffective security technology
Disconnect between the board, property manager, and security provider
Best Practices to Enhance Security
Formation of a security committee to focus on condo safety and security, which reports quarterly to the board
Requiring security guard providers to prepare a monthly report outlining services provided and security concerns or incidents
Having a robust evacuation and shelter plan and conducting quarterly fire drills
Ensuring security equipment is located in suitable locations and is in working order
Having an effective system to govern building key control and administration of the electronic access control system
Developing a resident safety and security manual to ensure a culture of safety
Overall, effective security in the condo not only demonstrates the corporation’s responsibility and accountability to protect unit owners, but also makes the condo a more enticing place to live.
Reference: The Condo Voice