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Your Guide to Apartment Complex Security

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As your one-stop shop for all things security-related, we deal with security from every angle for a variety of applications. Last week, we created a post sharing some valuable Retail Security Tips. This week, we turn our attention to an application that we’ve worked with many times. In this post, we focus on apartment complex security. This represents one of our widest-reaching security applications. After all, apartment complexes combine many types of security. We have a touch of commercial security in the form of rental offices and maintenance areas. Additionally, we also need to address parking lot security and security in tenants’ common areas. Finally, we also have residential and life-safety concerns to address. Therefore, we’ll discuss achieving this security using a variety of different approaches.

For starters, we’ll discuss intercom and access security, one of the largest undertakings of any apartment complex. Then, we’ll address ways to add common-area security through installing surveillance. From there, we’ll look at the important fire and life safety angles of apartment complex security. Arguably, this area represents the most important piece of any complete security plan. Therefore, we always make sure to recommend taking the most comprehensive life safety practices you can. Finally, we’ll examine how you can create a master key system for security and ease of entry for tenants and maintenance workers alike. Now, let’s get started with a focus on intercom and access security.

An Aiphone intercom station

Audio intercoms, such as this model by Aiphone, allow users to communicate with visitors upon entering an apartment complex.

Intercom and Access Security

Of course, everyone who’s lived in or visited friends in an apartment complex knows that they often need to “buzz in” before gaining entrance to the property. We recommend installing a high-end intercom and quality locking hardware to make this system as effective as possible. For starters, make sure the locking hardware you use for these systems provides the security needed. While low-quality locks can keep honest people out, it takes commercial-grade door hardware to secure your apartment complex against blunt force attacks. Make sure you work with a professional locksmith — such as ourselves — to ensure that your locks will hold up to anyone with devious intentions.

Furthermore, consider installing an intercom system that allows tenants to communicate with those calling for them. Audio intercoms allow tenants to verify the identity of their visitors before granting them entry. Moreover, video intercoms allow residents to talk with and view visitors in the lobby. These security measures go a long way towards keeping residents in your apartment complex safe. For more information, check out our post sharing some Intercom Options for Your Business. Now, let’s turn our attention towards adding surveillance to monitor your property’s common areas.

Common Area Security Through Surveillance

Over the past several years, cameras have gotten increasingly popular in the security world. Of course, we can chalk part of that up to their effectiveness. Cameras allow you to view footage of any events that have occurred on your property. From there, you can also share this video with authorities or residents as needed. These events can include burglary or crime-related emergencies, or car accidents in parking lots. Moreover, these even include events in which residents or visitors allege that conditions on your property put them in danger. People looking to make money off an insurance claim often get thwarted when camera footage disproves their claims. More than any other security measure, cameras go the longest way in clearing your name in these instances.

Another factore to consider when installing cameras revolves around their potential to deter crime. A visible surveillance presence can encourage thieves to look elsewhere to commit their crimes. No criminal wants their bad deeds put on tape, and the mere sight of cameras provides tremendous apartment complex security before anyone even commits any crimes! Next, let’s focus on adding important fire and life safety to your property.

Fire and Life Safety To-Do’s

When it comes to life safety, we recommend taking every precaution and sparing no expense. Every few years, our state adopts new a new code for minimum legal fire system coverage. These guidelines, created by the National Fire Protection Association (or “NFPA”), determine how we space and install our fire detection equipment, as well as other factors such as what type of wiring we use and how often equipment must receive testing.

When we install a “fresh” fire alarm, we follow the current NFPA code. At that point, the sytsem can remain “as-is” until your property undergoes maintenance or until we install a new fire alarm. Unfortunately, this can leave your property with outdated fire security if left alone for several years. While you may not legally have to do so, we recommend keeping your fire system up to date with current codes at all times. This will give your tenants the most up-to-date level of life safety possible.

Additionally, make sure to have your fire alarm inspected as required. Generally, this entails an annual inspection. Doing so will ensure your fire detection works when you need it most. Moreover, it will also make it easier to collect on an insurance claim in case you do have a fire. Insurance companies often ask for proof of proper fire alarm testing. Therefore, falling behind could cause quite the expense down the road! Last but not least, let’s now turn our focus to creating an effective master key system for your apartment complex.

A key ring with three keys

Master key systems allow both workers and tenants at apartment complexes to unlock every door they require access to with a minimal number of keys.

Master Key Systems for Ease of Security and Maintenance

When we design a key system for apartment complexes, we must do so with both security and convenience in mind. Creating an effective master key system allows us to achieve both. One of the biggest benefits of a master key system lies in the ability to minimize the number of keys needed to operate all of a property’s doors. We do this by creating different “levels” that we can make keys for.

The “master” key sits atop this pyramid, and master keys can open any doors on site. We can also create keys that unlock only certain “sets” of doors. For example, we can provide every tenant with a key that works the common door of their building and their own individual apartments. We call these keys “change” keys. From there, we can also create keys that only unlock one door. You can then provide these keys, known as “user” keys, to contractors or others who may need access to a very specific area of your apartment complex. For example, you may provide a laundry room key to a repair worker.

These systems allow you to provide the proper amount of access to every individual who receives a key. Additionally, they also allow you to give maintenance workers and management just one key to access any area of your property. For these reasons, master key systems represent a key component of any apartment complex security plan. For more information, check out our post on Creating an Effective Master Key System!

Putting it All Together and Creating an Apartment Complex Security Plan

We hope that this post helps you create an effective apartment complex security plan for your own property. Moreover, we encourage you to contact us with any questions you may have after reading this post. We work with a variety of property managers and owners at these types of applications. Additionally, we also offer free site surveys to assist with creating a plan based on your own property’s unique layout and situation. While on site, we can discuss solutions for any security issues that you wish to address. Furthermore, we can also make recommendations of our own based on observations we make during our visit.

Perhaps you have a solid security backbone, but wish to beef up certain areas. Or maybe you’re starting from scratch with a property under construction or under new management. Whatever the case may be, we are here to help. Together, we can create a complete security plan to keep your property, as well as your tenants, as safe and secure as possible!