Madison Landlords Prepare for Lock Ordinance

By: Natalie Swaby
By: Natalie Swaby

Time is ticking for Madison landlords to get locks on all doors at city apartment complexes.

The new ordinance -- which starts in about two months -- came about after a UW student was sexually assaulted in her downtown apartment building last summer.

Now, preventing a similar situation from happening again is affecting apartments... big and small.

It is double duty for Steven Fraboni. Not only does he run a busy deli, he's also landlord to five tenants who live in these apartments above his store.

"In 37 years, I've had a couple of instances, we had one break in, and so we took the precautions from there," says Fraboni. He put locks on doors and constantly keeps a close eye on his property. "I think that we already provide a safe environment for our tenants," he says.

But a city ordinance with a July 5th deadline may be the key to an even greater sense of security.

"They for the most part saw this ordinance as being common sense, long overdue, and something that would both be of benefit to them and their renters." That's the response Alderperson Judy Olson says she has received from landlords. She spearheaded legislation to get locks on outside doors for all apartments.

Common areas also need a key, and intercoms, buzzers, or doorbells have to be installed.

That means only small changes for Fraboni. "I don't really know what else they would want us to be in compliance of, except the doorbell I don't have installed right now," he says.

For bigger complexes it may be more costly, and the locks can only do so much. But for tenants the city feels it is a step in the right direction.

"At least they have the choice, and they did not have the choice in some cases before to lock their door," says Olson.

Lots of Madison locksmiths have been busy, giving estimates and changing locks.

City crews will start checking for compliance to the new lock law after the July 5th deadline.

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