As the Maine housing market continues to demand more living spaces, condominiums have become an increasingly attractive option.
New construction projects in the region include everything from high-end condos to micro-units. Those considering condominiums are often attracted to their convenience and price. If safety is a top priority, the advantages offered by condos can make them that much more desirable.
Condominium complexes provide a sense of privacy balanced with safety in numbers (even if just a few units comprise the property), where proximity of neighbors and regular activity is a deterrent for intruders and criminal activity. Condo owners often cite a sense of community with their neighbors as an advantage over private neighborhoods, where crime watch and disruptions in personal routines are immediately noticed.
While detached condominiums enjoy the same safety features as homes, in Maine and New England, many condos have attached garages or a multi-floor parking garage with interior access to the unit that houses may not always have. This provides a safety benefit, not to mention an advantage during winter months. Condos that are part of a multiple floor building attract owners who enjoy less accessible off-the-ground units to enhance safety as well. And, as area retirement communities continue to undergo renovations and new construction, it’s not unusual to find amenities such as on-site banks and courtyards that allow owners to spend more time within the shelter of their own neighborhood.
Safety is the Owner Responsibility
This past week, a condominium complex in Topsham was put into lock-down after a firearm shell was found on the property. The shell was determined to be a military training device and not an active shell, and it was ultimately determined to pose no threat. But in cases like this, police should always be called. Law enforcement, and not the association or condo management company, is the first and best line of defense when suspicion or an emergency arises.
“A condo is regulated by your own good sense,” said a spokesperson from Maine Properties, LLC, which offers personal, comprehensive financial and management services to condo associations. It’s an important reminder that, unlike strictly-regulated apartment complexes, condominium owners have the same responsibilities as homeowners when it comes to basic home safety. That includes fire safety, intrusion prevention, and a responsibly to contact authorities directly in an emergency – or in the case of a firearm shell sighting.
Maine – a Safe Bet for Buyers
Fortunately, incidents like the above are likely to be the most eventful these residents will experience this year. Safety measures that are commonplace in a larger city like Boston or Sarasota – closed circuit cameras or manned perimeters, for example – are usually considered unnecessary in Maine. Maine condominiums are also less likely to be gated, something that might come as a surprise to buyers from other regions of the country. Gates sometimes enclose higher-end properties, but they serve to provide a feeling of privacy, not the heightened security city residents would consider mandatory. The fact is, safety often depends on geographic location. House or car break-ins and other emergencies occur in every region of course. But Maine remains one of the safest, most attractive destinations for home and condo owners – whether it’s a waterfront condo or a micro-unit in the state’s urban centers.
Safety for Condo Owners
- Implement home safety devices that take advantage of new technology. While some systems require set up and subscription fees, many of today’s DIY security systems work with smart phone apps and are easy to implement on a budget. Outdoor security cameras that detect motion and alert owners of activity are effective, too, and can be purchased almost anywhere.
- Maintain working fire alarms, CO2 detectors, and kitchen fire extinguishers. Test monthly, and change batteries annually.
- Keep outdoor areas lit. Detached condos may benefit from motion-detecting flood lights. Have a planned secondary egress, including an escape ladder, if you live on an upper floor in the case of impassable elevators or hallways in a fire.
- Tell neighbors when you’ll be out of town. And, be aware of unusual activity in other units – mindful neighbors are the best barriers to intrusion.
Safety for Condo Associations
- Maintain overgrown or overgrowing trees and shrubs to make sure windows and door areas are visible. Landscaping that obscures windows is an intruder magnet. For older properties, make plans to invest in redoing landscaping that has passed its lifecycle.
- If security codes are in use on property entrances, enforce regular code changes. While it can cause frustration at first, owners and delivery drivers will adjust to the routine.
- Re-key units prior to moving in new residents.
- Alert owners to the need for personal responsibility when it comes to basic security, including maintaining fire safety measures and taking customary steps toward theft prevention.