It is essential that your home feels safe and secure. This section contains advice and tips to help you improve security within your flat or apartment.
Burglars will often target blocks of flats because they can easily gain access to them through a communal entrance, which may have poor access control. Once inside they will often go straight to the top floor flats first, as there is less likelihood of passers by seeing them whilst they break in.
So, if you own or manage a flat which is off a shared landing and not on the ground floor, remember that your front door is your only form of defence against intruders.
If your flat is on the second floor or above, you need to balance security with fire safety. That means you shouldn’t fit your front door with a lock that needs a key to open it from the inside. Choose one that complies with BS 5588/BS 8621, allowing you to release the lock and leave the flat with a single action. Add a letterbox cowl if required to prevent thieves tampering with the lock from outside.
Care has to be taken when securing communal doors as the ability to escape in case of fire is vital. You should always be able to open the communal door (from inside) using a single keyless action. If you fit an automatic door closer, it should be of a good quality. Poor quality closers can fail to engage the lock. Locking mechanisms vary, depending on access control and door type
- Invest in a strong door and door frame with good quality locks.
- PVCu and aluminium doors generally have multi-locking systems. When you lock the door, remember to remove the key. Always put keys in a safe and easily accessible place in case of fire.
- Internal letterbox shields also prevent access to the handle inside or keys being fished through the letterbox.
- Frames should be reinforced with reinforcing metal strips called ‘London’ and ‘Birmingham’ bars.
Hinge bolts should be fitted to outward opening doors.
- Glass panels in doors should be replaced with laminated glass or reinforced with security film or grilles.
- Door viewers enable residents to see callers before they open the door.
- Wooden back doors should be solid timber, with a British Standard 5-lever mortice lock and two mortice rack bolts.
- French, patio and balcony doors should have a minimum of three locking points. Patio doors should be fitted with an anti-lift device to prevent them being lifted from their runners.
- All ground floor windows and any windows that are easily accessible must have key operated window locks.
- Audible intruder alarm systems with flashing lights are a good deterrent against burglary.
- Security lighting increases vision and makes burglars feel vulnerable and at risk of being seen.
Access into communal entrances
Doors without Electronic Access Control
Ideally the door should be fitted with a lock which has an automatic deadlocking facility, approximately a third of the way down from the top of the door. Additionally, a mortice deadlock latch should be installed a third of the way up from the bottom of the door and it should be used as often as is practicable. These locks must be suitable for emergency exit purposes, in that they must not require key release from within, opening being achieved by means of a handle or thumb turn. Where there is any conflict between security and fire requirements or legislation, the latter must prevail. In any case of doubt, seek the Fire Officer’s approval.
All doors must be fitted with an automatic closing mechanism, both properly adjusted and regularly maintained, to ensure that the door is secured at all times. Doors should never be left wedged open, as this not only negates any security within the building, but may also contravene any Fire Regulations.
Doors with Electronic Access Control
The remote release lock should be of a type that has an electrically operated bolt action with an automatic deadlocking facility, or is a magnetic type lock. It is imperative that the system has a safeguard incorporated, which ensures that the lock can be released in the event of a power failure.
Access Control Systems
It is preferable that at least one of the following security measures applies:
- The door is secured at all times and visitors are permitted entry via a remote release facility which is linked to an audio-visual or at the very least an audio only entry-phone.
- The door is secured at all times and visitors are met personally at the door.
- The communal entrance is constantly monitored by a receptionist or concierge.