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Thread: Concierge/security in condo buildings

  1. #1

    Default Concierge/security in condo buildings

    I would be interested to hear people's experiences with the level of service and helpfulness of the concierge/security in their condo building. I am curious whether these are pretty standard, or whether there is variability across buildings - in which case it might be a factor to consider when choosing a building to live in. (It would be interesting too to hear about how the standard here compares with other North American cities.)

    I've lived in 3 different medium- to large-sized condo buildings in the downtown area (rented, owned and rented, in that order), intermittently over a period of 13 years. Overall, the weekday concierges have been permanent staff and very helpful. Sometimes the permanent staff are present on the weekend (though my impression is that this has gotten less common over time). The rest of the time, the weekend staff seem to be temps, who seem much less knowledgeable, and have less willingness or authority to help with various things (so that they basically just function as a security guard). For example, in my current building, I believe that the weekday staff will make an elevator booking for you for moving/deliveries, but the weekend staff won't do it.

    Thanks in advance for your comments.


  2. #2

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    Booking the facilities or elevator has to be done with management. The concierge won't do it for you because when booking, you need to leave a deposit. If it's signing out things like ping pong ball and racket or snooker balls and stick etc, they will do it. As a courtesy, they might let you book a room if it's last minute and you aren't really using it for any party of sorts or doing things that might damage the area. However they aren't obliged to.

    As for concierge, I notice they get shifted around to different buildings. Someone you see there might be sent to another building a year later. It's good and bad. Some aren't very good concierge so I am glad they are moved out. But some are nice and helpful, but they also get shifted too which is bad.

    I prefer the way they do it in HK where the security guard works in a building for years and remembers all the owners living there. If strangers come walk in that they don't recognize, they would question.

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    Usually, for concierges who works 8-4 or 9-5 in the weekdays are the site supervisor. Some of them are good and some of them are bad. Take my site supervisor as an example. He does not communicate any new informations and rules to the rest of concierge, especially the weekend concierges who don't get to him at all. As a result of this, all the weekend staffs are left uninformed about changes and etc. Maybe this is the case with your weekend concierge. Ask them whether this is the case. If it is, then you can make recommendation to the board member to make sure the site supervisor does his job as a supervisor.
    Another problem with my site supervisor, he likes to do favours for residents without communicating to the rest of the staffs. The result, the weekend concierges get "oh, your site supervisor said it's okay for us to move out on Sunday" or whatever the case. The weekend staffs try to follow everything by the book and exception has to done via management. A lot of times, the management even forget to make sure that the weekend staffs know that a certain resident has been given an exception, the result is the weekend staffs will denie the exception because there is no note from the management. In the weekdays, the full time staffs see the management everyday, and any exception can be made on the same days. This is why they seem to be more helpful than the weekend staffs. Most of the time, it's because bad management and bad site supervisor.

  4. #4

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    My downtown condo has two full time concierge staff. One is the "head of security" and he's the go-to man for pretty much everything. He also attends the annual condo board meetings and is able to speak to any security issues there. The other has less official power but is equally capable. Both can handle elevator bookings, moves, deliveries, filing noise complaints, etc. Both know the names of the vast majority of people who live in the building, and often their unit numbers, too. Both are friendly, have been there as long as I've lived in the building (over 5 years) and manage to strike that right balance between enforcing the rules while still being helpful to residents. They split the weekday hours in 8-hours shifts, one working roughly 8am to 4pm, the other working roughly 4pm to midnight.

    Overnight and on the weekends, our building hires security from an outside agency. Usually it's the same 3 or 4 people, and while they don't know tenant's names, they do seem to recognize faces. Occasionally we get a "one off" person who I never see again. The quality of the contract staff varies a lot: some seem to take it very seriously, others just stare blankly into space and don't really acknowledge anyone unless forced to. Anything beyond simple requests they refer to the weekday staff. Everyone pretty much knows that if you want to arrange a delivery or elevator, you need to do it during the week.

    Overall it's not a perfect system, but it's pretty good. Even a disengaged security guard is a disincentive to possible evildoers... casual troublemakers or the homeless won't bother entering a building if they can see a security guard there. On the other hand, any serious criminal who is very determined to get into the building will probably do so one way or another, regardless of who is on staff. It's not a prison. But since the vast majority of buildings I visit downtown don't have any security beyond a numbered speaker panel, I'm pretty happy with it.
    Last edited by PukeGreen; 2009-Oct-12 at 17:37. Reason: removed redundant redundancy

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    St Lawrence Market Area
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    4,381

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    I live in a downtown condo building without a security guard or concierge, we have a resident Superintendent. We have VERY few security problems and do not have to pay the cost of having several additional employees - security guards are not much use if they only work 9-5 so you need several. We do pay for an occassional 'roving patrol' from a security company at night but it's VERY occasional. It really depends on the size of the building, whether most residents are owners (who seem more careful) and exactly where the building is located.

  6. #6

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    When I used to live in Kitchener (not Toronto - but it's not like the crime rate is any lower), I was surprised to find that the building I was in, didn't even have locked doors. Not once in the 8 years I was there did I ever hear of an incident; I had no more door-to-door soliciting (about 1 Christian every couple of years, about the same as the old building; someone would always buzz them in ...) than I did in my previous building. And on one occasion I heard of a problem with a homeless person in the laundry room (easily solved; new lock on laundry room door).

    I'm not convinced security is really a big deal, or necessary.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Toronto
    Posts
    4,548

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    Quote Originally Posted by nfitz View Post

    I'm not convinced security is really a big deal, or necessary.
    I don't think it makes a big deal either; however, i've heard that it does more to female buyers.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by cdr108 View Post
    I don't think it makes a big deal either; however, i've heard that it does more to female buyers.
    I agree.Security is needed if you want a quiet and safe building,I know that some condos highlights the amount of security it has 24/7,with access codes,secured garages,etc,etc.I would not buy a condo that doesnt have 24 hour security.

  9. #9

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    In my experience, the quality of service by concierge/security depends on two factors:
    (i) Management; and,
    (ii) Layout of the entrance.

    Management

    Security and concierge duties are normally hired out on contract by the Condo Corp. However, the management must provide detailed instructions on how to handle every situation, and the roles / responsibilities of the service. A poor guideline for duties will result in poor service being provided.

    This also depends on the size of the building and the level of service they were hired for. As an example, there is a difference between "security" and "concierge". Are you paying to have someone keep your building safe, or someone to welcome people into the building, be friendly, and give a helping hand?

    Further, for me it is critical for the concierge to be able to receive packages from couriers. Whether I am home, or not, I know that someone is available 24/7 to take packages for me. Working from home, this is a huge benefit.

    I have experienced condos with both situations, and I prefer a combination of the two. I enjoy being greeted when I walk into the building and have someone accept parcels for me, but I also enjoy knowing that someone is downstairs monitoring people accessing the building.

    Layout
    Many buildings have a poor layout/design of the entrance foyer, which makes it difficult to monitor the building. This is especially true when there are elevators on both sides of the building and multiple entrance doors into the building. Such situations make it near impossible, especially in a large building, to be able to monitor all the doors.

    In such a circumstance more security/concierges are needed, potentially doubling up on weekends and busy times. Again, it comes down to the Board and Management on how to handle such situations.

    All in all... I really enjoy having both a concierge and security. It provides for a "warmer" and friendly environment in the building, and is a great help for receiving packages and visitors.

  10. #10

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    Thanks for the helpful comments, everybody! It sounds like there is indeed some variability between buildings in the type of service in place. Your comments suggest some good questions to ask the next time I am looking for a new place.

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    It would be nice to see some well mannered, uniformed, full-service concierge staff in Toronto condos as you see them in NYC. You typically form a relationship with this type of concierge, along with providing them with a xmas bonus/gift. Does this exist anywhere in Toronto?

    The typical experience I am used to in Toronto is disengaged poorly paid staff, usually provided by a 3rd party outsourcing company.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by avatarreb View Post
    It would be nice to see some well mannered, uniformed, full-service concierge staff in Toronto condos as you see them in NYC. You typically form a relationship with this type of concierge, along with providing them with a xmas bonus/gift. Does this exist anywhere in Toronto?

    The typical experience I am used to in Toronto is disengaged poorly paid staff, usually provided by a 3rd party outsourcing company.
    As per the PRIVATE SECURITY AND INVESTIGATIVE SERVICES ACT, all security guards in Ontario MUST wear a uniform that complies with the Act.

    The Act can be found here.

    All of my experiences with condo-security guards have been excellent in terms of manners and uniforms.

  13. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by iSlutsky View Post
    As per the PRIVATE SECURITY AND INVESTIGATIVE SERVICES ACT, all security guards in Ontario MUST wear a uniform that complies with the Act.

    The Act can be found here.

    All of my experiences with condo-security guards have been excellent in terms of manners and uniforms.
    Sure... there are "uniforms":


    or uniforms:


    ... my reference was to the latter.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by avatarreb View Post
    Sure... there are "uniforms":


    or uniforms:


    ... my reference was to the latter.
    Amazing! I love the latter picture. I wish I lived in a place like that! I can picture him giving me my morning paper as I grab my first coffee of the day!

    Yes... with regards to the former picture, that is where good property management comes in!

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