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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Some landlords fail to comply with new lock ordinance

The sexual assault of a UW-Madison student last year inspired the city's new Building Lock Ordinance, which requires locks on common doors and a buzzer system to be installed in every apartment building with two or more units. 

 

 

 

Despite a July 5 deadline for rental agencies and landlords to update their residences, many are still not in compliance with the new code. 

 

 

 

\I introduced this ordinance last year in response to a UW-Madison student's sexual assault,"" Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said. ""In this situation, the perpetrator was able to gain entry into the building and...hide in there, which is obviously a very scary proposition."" 

 

 

 

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The assault happened to a female student in an apartment in the Camp Randall area, according to Verveer. Other residents in the building said they had asked the landlord repeatedly to install locks on the building prior to the attack. 

 

 

 

""That incident brought to light the need for this ordinance,"" Verveer said. ""I argued at the time that this was a dangerous loophole in our building code."" 

 

 

 

Prior to July 5, Madison's building code required locks on all individual apartment entrances and first floor windows, as well as peepholes on doors, but did not address common areas. The new ordinance adds mandatory locks on laundry room, basement and exterior doors, as well as the presence of a ""notification system"" in the form of a buzzer, doorbell or intercom. 

 

 

 

Building owners and rental agencies have known since January to install the necessary changes. However, many Madison apartments are still without these safeguards, including complexes in the campus area. 

 

 

 

""There's some landlords out there that are putting them on, and we notice that, and there's some that aren't,"" Madison Building Inspector Tom Adamowicz said. 

 

 

 

Adamowicz attributed the lapses to the fact that older buildings don't have the wiring for ""notification devices"" in place, which discourages agencies from installing them. He also noted that while many buildings have put in doorbells and locks, tenants' safety is still compromised by the rampant propping of doors he encounters during inspections. 

 

 

 

""I'm seeing sticks in the door and carpets ... put over the thresholds,"" Adamowicz said. 

 

 

 

The Building Inspection Unit does check buildings on a regular basis, although students can report complaints if their apartments are not following the city ordinance.  

 

 

 

""I've heard a few anecdotal stories of buildings that aren't yet up to code,"" said Philip Ejercito, a Housing Committee Member. ""Tenants are definitely free and encouraged to call Building Inspection if there's problems with the buildings they're in.\

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