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From the Forum – Locking the door to the Condo Roof?

by Prince Of Petworth December 30, 2015 at 2:05 pm 14 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user John Cochran

Locking the door to the Condo Roof?

“Neighbors (some teenage kids) in the building next to ours (a mid-rise condo building) recently discovered that they could hop easily from the roof of their building to our roof, and then discovered that our door to the roof was not locked from the outside, only from the inside and came in to have a look around. Property manager claims that it is illegal for the roof door to lock from the outside (to prevent someone from getting stuck on the roof). This seems absolutely absurd if it is the case. We have asked for some documentation from the property manager for this assertion, questioned whether it can be a keyed lock that all residents have the key for, or anything else. The idea of having a wide open door for anyone who can access the roof to then access the whole condo building is ridiculous.

Also, we don’t have a roof deck so no one should be accessing the roof except to service AC units or the roof, and they would have a key if we went that route. Anyone have any experience with this? How did you/your building handle it? I acknowledge that one idea is to contact management of the neighboring building to ask that they lock access to their roof, but that doesn’t solve the ongoing concern of a wide open door into our building.”

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  • FridayGirl

    My building’s roof is not locked from the outside, but you DO need a FOB to use the elevator to get anywhere in the building beyond the roof area. I am not sure if the staircase is secured in the same fashion from the roof, I haven’t used it.

    • textdoc

      I think for safety/liability reasons the staircase would need to be accessible from the roof without a key fob, but it might be outfitted with an alarm so that it would be used only in emergencies.

  • Kathryn-DC

    The way doors lock in dc is governed by the fire code, which is very specific in its requirements and prohibitions on types of locks and how doors should be secured. So you would want to find out how a private residential building roof access door can be secured.

  • Shaw

    A condo I looked at recently had an ugly fence with barbed wire curled along the top between it’s roofdeck and an adjacent building, and I was told this was the reason – they couldn’t lock the door (though like another commenter said, you had to have a fob to access the elevators and the stairs were marked as alarmed), so they put up the rooftop fence instead. Not very pretty, but I’d imagine it got the job done!

    • FridayGirl

      +1 to this idea. Seems like the easiest way to fix the issue, honestly.

  • HaileUnlikely

    Not sure where this door leads to, but if building from scratch, the easiest way to both meet code and provide reasonable security is to have the door to the roof lead to a ground-level building exit and require keys to access anything else other than the exit. Sure, an intruder could enter from the roof and wait on the stairs for an unsuspecting resident or maintenance worker to rob, but this would be much more secure than what it sounds like you have presently, and is how most buildings I’ve seen with roof access are set up. If the door to the roof already leads to a ground-level building exit, you could add locks to the other doors to other interior doors on the stairwell to accomplish this. If the stairwell does not lead straight to a ground-level exit without having to access other parts of the building to reach an exit, it’ll be a little more complicated.

    • textdoc

      Now I understand why my old building had locks on the entrances to each floor from the stairwell.

  • navyard

    You could also lay a new strip of cement on the roof, about 2-3 feet wide, and plant broken and jagged bottles in the cement. Kidding. sort of.

  • Guantanamo Joe

    If installing fence is a little expensive or more than your board wants to do, honestly why not try stringing up some razor wire? It’s cheap, harder to see from the street, and probably is a better deterrent.

  • rob

    Have a push bar with delayed access and audible alarm. option 2. motion sensors and audible alarm and cameras and lights.

    Contact adjacent building and inform them they will be responsible for are responsible for any injuries and break ins from their building if they don’t put a lock on the inside of their door.

  • MarthaWashington

    I live in a building where you need to have a fob to get into the building from our roof deck. Either your building is doing something illegal or mine is.

  • DC Res

    Your property manager is correct. I managed a condo building and had a professional locksmith come out. He said he was unable to install a lock on the roof due to fire code and refused.

    • DC Res

      However, it is legal if you need a key to get onto the roof. That would mean in theory no one would get stuck because they would have a key to get out and also a key to get back in.

      • HaileUnlikely

        Ain’t gonna fly. One person with a key could let 10 friends up, and then go back down. Now there are 10 people on the roof and no key.


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