What Can I Do to Feel More Secure?

Q. Our condo building is supposed to be secured and locked form dusk to dawn. My neighbors bypass the system by leaving entry doors open, sticking cardboard in fire doors, and other measures that allow others to sneak in. Complaints to the condo association are ignored. I contacted an alarm company so I could feel safe inside my home. I have been informed by the condo board that I may not install an alarm system. Can the association stop me? After their reaction, I would also like to install a camera so that I can view the hallway prior to exiting my unit. Is that allowable? 

A. There are a couple of issues to address in your question. First, does the association have a role in securing the building to protect its residents? Second, can the association regulate what you do in your unit and outside your unit with respect to your own personal safety? On the first question, the primary role of the association is to manage and maintain the condominium building. This includes keeping the building in a state of good condition, and to repair portions of the building when necessary. The association is not, however, a security company.   The association might employ a company that controls access to the community, but the association is not responsible for ensuring the absolute safety of its residents. On the other hand, if an entry door is supposed to lock but does not do so because of lack of maintenance, the association could be responsible due to negligence. On the second question, the condominium association probably does not have the authority in your condo documents to stop you from having an alarm system in your unit. The association can, however, refuse to allow the installation of private cameras in the hallway which is probably a common area. One alternative is for the association to install cameras at the entry doors in such a manner so that unauthorized entries are recorded. You send your concerns to the association’s board by certified mail, and the board members are then obligated to respond to you by law.

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