Keep Log of Door and Lock Repairs to Boost Safety, Reduce Liability
A resident reports a broken lock in her unit. It's late in the evening, so you decide to wait until the next morning to have it checked out by maintenance staff. That's a mistake you don't want to make, say security experts. Your failure to repair or replace the lock immediately could make you liable if a break-in attempt or other crime involving that resident or her property occurs.
The essential rule of thumb here is to repair or replace broken locks or doors immediately upon learning of the problem. For an added measure of security—for your benefit as well as your residents'—you should keep a written log of all door and lock complaints and repairs, advises Norman Bates, Esq., a Massachusetts-based security consultant.
In fact, such a log came to the defense of the New York City Housing Authority a few years ago. A resident was assaulted by an intruder and claimed that the authority was to blame because it failed to secure the premises and didn't maintain the entrance door, which was, in the resident's words, “in a constant state of disrepair.” The authority was able to produce records showing that it had repaired the entrance door lock the day before the resident was assaulted and had received no additional complaints about the lock after that time. The court dismissed the lawsuit.
What to Include in Log
Here's all the information you should record in a log of requests and repairs, Bates says. You can set this up in an easy-to-use column format:
Date and time of repair request. Be sure to include the year when you notate the date, and whether the time is a.m. or p.m.
Who reported problem. Note the name of the resident or staff member who reported the problem.
Nature and location of problem. Be specific about the exact location and the nature of the problem. Is the lock loose? Does the door lock? Is the lock or door at the main entrance or a resident's unit front door?
Response. Describe the specific action taken by maintenance or other staff to address the problem.
Date and time of repair. Again, include the year and whether the repair time is a.m. or p.m.
Staff member's signature. Have the staff member who completed the repair enter his or her name.
Note that not only is it important to stay on top of reported lock or door concerns for safety and security, you need to do so for HUD inspection purposes. HUD inspectors will report a busted lock as a violation, and your inspection score could be adversely affected.
Norman D. Bates, Esq.: Liability Consultants, Inc., 591 Sugar Rd., Bolton, MA 01740; (978) 779-9906; email@example.com.
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