Apartment Security: A Reminder

Last Updated: March 2, 2009By

by  Chris E. McGoey, CPP, CSP, CAM

the Crime Doctor™

I just finished inspecting a one-bedroom apartment unit, for a friend, on a twenty-year old upscale property in Phoenix.  This property is managed by one of the largest property managers in the country.   I was surprised by what I found.

Because of the premium rent, I expected to find the property in compliance with all the minimum recommended security features. I  expected the property to have been certified by the Crime Free Multi-Housing Program. I was wrong.

On my recommendation, the new resident selected a highly visible second floor unit, in view of the office, because it would be inherently safer for a single woman living alone.  I inspected the door locks and found only one in place.   It was a tired-looking and worn deadbolt lock that had been switched from another unit. I thought a new resident surely deserves a newly keyed lock, especially if it’s the only one on the door?  To make matters worse, the old lock had paint splashed on it making it easily distinguishable to the former users.   No one could say for certain how many times this lock had been rotated between units and how many keys were out there.

Upon examining the lock strike plate, I found two half-inch wood screws holding the strike plate onto a frail-looking piece of dried-out door jamb.   It would only take one firm kick to gain access into the unit and to my friend.  I examined the accessible sliding glass windows and doors and found them with the usual aluminum latching hardware.  All these glass sliders were missing secondary track-blocking devices and anti-lift measures.  I feel these devices are necessary on all accessible sliding windows because of the potential for the latches to fail and not withstand minimal prying or lifting force.

I was concerned how these security measures were somehow overlooked when inspected at turnover by maintenance workers and by the leasing consultants.  I learned that instead of a detailed walk-through with the leasing consultant, my friend was simply handed a form to fill out and return only if she noticed anything that was damaged.  How many new residents would know to check the door locks, strike plates, and window security?  Does this practice sound familiar to you?

Imagine how you would feel, if someone who you cared about was brutally attacked inside their apartment unit.  Imagine how you would feel if you learned that the assailant gained entry by either using an old key or by easily kicking the door open.  Wouldn’t you be upset?  Wouldn’t you what the apartment property manager punished for not acting responsibly?  This is precisely why lawsuits are filed.

Starting today, take a look at all your apartment units to see if they comply with these basic security rules:

1. Always re-key or replace deadbolt locks at resident turnover

2. Always use 3″ screws for strike plates on wooden door jambs

3. Always use secondary blocking devices for sliding doors and windows

4. Always use anti-lift devices on sliding doors and windows

5. Always replace window screens if missing or damaged.

6. Always use 180-degree peepholes on entry doors

7. Always participate in and document a new resident walk-through

8. Always respond quickly to resident lock-repair requests

I hope you found these ideas helpful


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