Lock boxes are boxes that are installed on common property within the strata scheme so that keys or passes to access the building or lots can be stored in them. The purpose of installing a lock box for welfare access is to enable emergency services, such as the police, fire brigade and ambulance, and potentially the building manager, to access a lot using the keys or passes stored in the lock boxes, in the event of an emergency.
An example of how a lock box system for welfare access can work is as follows:
1. A lock box can be installed outside the building containing keys or passes to:
i. the building, and
ii. to the level of each of the lots that have opted into the lock box system.
2. A further lock box can then be installed outside each lot which has opted in or at a specified location on each level which will contain the key for the particular lot.
3. Each emergency service and the building manager will be provided with a code to access the lock boxes in the event of an emergency.
A strata scheme that intends to put in place a lock box system for welfare access should get the appropriate by-law prepared for the regulation, installation, management and to control the use, access and maintenance of lock boxes. The by-law should also consider whether or not lot owners will absolve the owners corporation and building manager from liability, if lot owners choose to opt into the lock box system.
Having a lock box within a strata scheme for emergency purposes can be beneficial, particularly where many occupants live alone, are old or may have disabilities. This is because it enables emergency services or the building manager to access a lot in the event an occupant has an accident, a medical emergency or if their safety is at risk.
However, it is important that proper measures are taken to ensure the lock boxes:
1. are installed in a secure place and the keys and passes are kept securely to prevent theft,
2. are only accessible by authorised persons and this access be monitored,
3. are installed in a well-lit location and an owners corporation should consider having CCTVs installed to monitor this location, and
4. codes are kept up to date.
Article authors: JHS and AB.