For some, stairwells are the dark little secret places between floors, where the kids go to drink beer at night, or where others go to do who knows what. While residents of most buildings will have few reasons to use their building’s interior stairwells, others always seem to find the wrong uses for the space. And though it may seem just a minor inconvenience to the apartment owner in need of a little temporary storage, using stairway or hallway spaces wrongly can risk the life and limbs of everyone in the building.
That’s why understanding the safety, maintenance, and liability issues of maintaining stairwells, service corridors and other access-restricted “common areas” is paramount. In addition to understanding requirements for emergency lighting, cleanliness, and security issues in stairwells, city building codes also make it necessary to keep stairwells in top shape.
Given these considerations, making such spaces safer and more useful, through vigilant observance of them and through regular maintenance, is really just a matter of protecting a major investment. And failing to do so won’t just hurt everyone’s investment in their apartments; it could lead to someone losing their life—a cost too great for any residential community to bear. Not only is such an occurrence a tragedy, the resulting litigation, and its attendant financial burden could have a devastating effect on a building’s operations.
Keep It Clean
Comedian George Carlin once jokingly described a person’s house as “a place to keep your stuff.” At its core his witticism is true, but in many multifamily buildings in New York City, people can take that definition of a home more literally, misinterpreting their building's common areas as part of their own personal place to keep their stuff.
One challenge of maintaining stairwell safety has nothing to do with intruders sneaking in, or potentially faulty emergency equipment. Leaving a propped–open door, while it could allow trespassers in and should not happen in any case—is far less likely an occurrence than people leaving their stuff in the hallway or stairwell, which happens all the time in all classes of buildings.