Safe And Sound: Security in Strata Schemes – NSW

Ensuring security in community schemes is a balancing act.

On one hand, it must balance the privacy of owners and occupiers, and ensure their rights are not impinged upon.  On the other, it must balance the safety and security of these owners and occupiers, and their possessions and residences.  And the point where they intersect is in relation to the use of common property facilities and areas.

Obligations for security in a community scheme are generally shared between owners and management.

Owners and occupiers will be responsible for the security of their individual units or housing.  This includes maintaining secure and lockable doors and windows into units or apartments, especially units or townhouses which have access to the street or ground level.  It is also worth noting however that if you are looking to replace any locks or doors in your scheme to check with your by-laws and standards, as some properties require locks which are of a certain secure standard, and which are fire safety compliant.

Owners corporations are responsible for the security of common property.  This can include common areas such as lobbies and foyers, car parks, and other facilities such as pools or barbeque areas.  Security over extensive areas of common property can be difficult.  In larger schemes, closed-circuit television cameras, swipe-card access, secure parking and security guards are a popular option for protecting common property and the possessions of owners.  While there are some legal concerns over privacy with use of CCTV, these can be mostly avoided by ensuring cameras are focused on common areas for security purposes only, and staying well away from private lots and occupiers.  Cameras which simply record vision with no audio can also ensure problems with recording of private conversations do not arise.  It is always worth consulting with security experts and lawyers if installing a security camera system to avoid these issues entirely.

Many community schemes also require tradespeople to sign in and out when entering and exiting a building during the carrying out of maintenance.  This is a useful security tip which is widely utilised, as it provides both tradespeople and committees with a record of their activities to offset any liability in the case of a security issue.

Particularly in smaller schemes, which may not be able to afford security swipe card access, CCTV cameras or security guards, by-laws can be utilised to restrict access to certain parts of property at different times.  This might include closing pools and BBQ areas during night hours, or placing signage informing visitors of their obligations with regard to noise.  But as some of these might not be an option for smaller owners corporation schemes, it can also be highly effective to promote a good sense of community within residents.  This will encourage residents to be on the lookout for unlocked or unsecure places, any suspicious behaviour, and to generally create a better vibe of security at a property.

If you are looking for information or have concerns about security at your property, consult your by-laws and talk to your SSKB Community Manager.  We can assist you and your community to ensure your security measures are as up-to-date and functional as possible within the needs of your scheme, and to seek out any relevant legal advice for installation of security systems.

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