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  • Posted By Scott
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  • Feb 06, 2018

CONDOMINIUM SECURITY – How secure are your master keys?

It comes as a considerable surprise to most condo managers and board members that those three magic words printed on your master keys: DO NOT COPY....is only a suggestion.

Bottom line is that those words are a request to all locksmiths to abide by your direction/wishes in this matter. Hard as this may be to believe, there are no laws or rules in Ontario that prevent the locksmith from duplicating condominium keys without proper authorization.

Recently, we have become aware of a locksmith company, in Toronto, that is advertising that they will copy security locks for condominium owners. In addition, a quick check of Google reveals several chat forums in Toronto and the United States where condominium owners are advising each other of potential locksmiths that will ignore the Do Not Copy classification, and that they are comparing notes on how to approach the locksmith for the best results.

Obviously, this trend should be very alarming to Property Managers and Boards of Directors who expend considerable effort in ensuring the safety and security of the residents and their property. So, is there anything that can be done to rectify this issue?

Our first recommendation would be for condominiums to only work with reputable locksmiths. Most, if not all, professional management companies maintain a list of preferred contractors. These contractors are known to the managers to be both reliable and ethical when it comes to their work and pricing.

We would submit that if a condominium is aware that their locksmith company is copying keys without the proper authorization, that they must question their business integrity. In this case, we feel that the condominium may be best suited taking their business to a company that abides by the rules, even if they are unspoken.

Another recommendation from experts within the locksmith industry is to use Restricted Keyway Locks. The reason that companies are able to copy “DO NOT COPY” keys is because they often use key blanks that are readily available to most locksmiths. By selecting a restricted keyway lock, only your authorized locksmith will have access to the blanks. So in order for an “under the counter” deal to occur, the culprit must first identify your locksmith and then convince him/her to copy the key for them. Given that this locksmith has a business relationship with the management company, it is unlikely that they will copy the key without proper authorization.

Lately, we have been completing security audits for new condominiums that are undertaking their Performance Audit and 1st Year Reserve Fund Study. One of our common recommendations is to rekey the master keys that are used for the restricted common element. The reasons that we recommend this is that the 1st Board of Directors usually does not have any way to determine how many keys were provided to contractors during the building and warranty phase of the condominium.

If a condominium is considering re-keying, we strongly recommend that they coordinate with their locksmith professional and discuss the above. By following the above, they will ensure that they are getting a proper Return on their Security budget investment,and will be making their facility that much safer.