The words safety and security mean different things to different property owners but a Strata Corporation has an obligation to its Owners and visitors to maintain and regularly review the systems and conditions that make up their property’s Safety & Security Plan.
Every property is different and where one may require controlled access and video surveillance of an underground parking structure, the owners in a townhouse complex park in their own garages. The townhouse property, however, must ensure adequate street illumination and good lighting for safe access throughout the traveled areas of the grounds.
Landscaping, as it grows, can have an impact on the effectiveness of lighting and provide hiding places for those with unsavory motives. Those owners working to develop the Landscape Maintenance Plan must keep these security and safety considerations in mind.
Regular inspection and maintenance to external stairs, railings and sidewalks is important to ensure that trip and fall hazards are minimized, and snow removal is not a duty that a responsible Strata Corporation will try to assign to individual owners.
Secure building access is an ongoing concern for condominium properties and any Long Term Maintenance Plan should anticipate the replacement cost for intercom/door control systems. Twenty years is a reasonable life expectancy and the replacement cost can be significant.
Key control and management is a headache for almost every property, and, depending on ownership turnover, planning for the re-keying of all the common doors every five to ten years is not unreasonable. The capital costs for card access systems has fallen significantly in the past few years and they are definitely worth looking at, particularly for large properties.
The most important safety/security system of all is the awareness of each owner, and this cannot be overemphasized. Doors that don’t close properly, or exterior lights that have gone out, should be brought to the attention of the Council and/or the Strata Manager. Please don’t ignore the problem or assume that someone else will take care of it.
A formal Safety & Security Plan should identify the many disparate areas and systems involved, and include an annual or semi-annual inspection check list to ensure optimal operation. We also advise our clients to initiate regular reminders to each owner to help maintain that all important “first line of defense” – their powers of observation.
John Grubb is a Property Maintenance Consultant serving Strata Corporations and building owners on Vancouver Island.
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