Security fobs & keys
that fobs give your condo building a high level of security? Unfortunately, you
Like most condo residents, I believed that anyone wanting to get
into our condo's common elements would need a fob that was programmed
and provided by the manager in our condo office. Our building was
After watching an Australian current affairs TV story on how a young
fellow ran a business copying fobs in coffee shops using a small device hooked up
to a laptop, I realized that this may not be so.
I then started searching the Internet and came up with a number of persons in Toronto offering fob copying services.
The following is from a small Toronto company's website.
We are very happy to have been working here in Toronto for our clients.
From property managers, real estate moguls, landlords, tenants, and
cleaners, we have supplied almost 300 fobs to our clients in the GTA.
At FobToronto, we use a system and hardware that is top-of-the-line,
and can finish keys in a matter of minutes (or sometimes in seconds),
so that you can be on your way. We don't want to wait around outside,
lose out on sales and occupancy, nor not be able to cook dinner because
somebody lost their keys, or they're just pre-occupied and can't text
back immediately. These things happen, and this is why we're here.
WE'D LOVE TO COPY YOUR CONDO FOB TODAY.
E-mail from a reader
We tried this service (Fob Toronto) ourselves to see how secure our
fobs are by testing one of them. Thanks a million for this one, the
board and security were very interested. Well it turns out that our
fobs are easily copied. One fob costs $50 with price breaks for volumes.
Condo manager—North York
In mid-January, I interviewed Paul, one of the owners of FobToronto at a downtown fast-food outlet.
Like the fellow featured in the Australian TV show, Paul meets his
customers at coffee shops and he uses a small black device to copy fobs. It is about the
size of a floppy disk and it is attached to his laptop. It takes a very
short time to duplicate a fob.
Who are his customers?
Almost 100% are involved with condos. They are:
|Property managers who are renting multiple units short-term.
|A person getting a fob for their girl friend/boyfriend who is going to move in with them.
|A resident who is going to rent part of the unit to roomers.
|A person who needs a fob for relatives or friends.
|A fob for the dog walker and/or housekeeper.
Why don't they ask the property manager for a fob?
|Too expensive; anywhere from $75 and up.
|Too much hassle. Got to miss work to go to the management office and far too much paperwork.
|Sometimes they need to pay a $300 deposit.
|They are renters and they don't want their landlord to know someone is moving in.
|Some condos limit the number of fobs per unit.
|Lost a fob. Far cheaper and easier to get a duplicate made.
Can you duplicate all fobs?
No. For now, he cannot duplicate the fob shown above.
Paul has competition. As I was walking to our meeting spot, I saw these signs in the window of a small shoe repair shop.
Paul doesn't cut keys, he refers his customers to someone who does, but Walk & Wear advertises that it does.
Not only do they clone fobs, they cut keys, even keys that state: "Do not duplicate".
Here is an ad for a different service that charges only $40 to copy fobs.
Another supplier, Simple Key Copy in Vancouver can copy a vast selection of fobs.
This is a just a few fobs they show on their website.
What can condos do about this?
They can't do anything about closing the fob cloning and key cutting
businesses. They exist, they are not going away and they provide a service
for many condo residents.
They can take a good look at their fob policies to see if they are
effective or are punitive and therefore encouraging residents to go
elsewhere to get a spare fob.
Security must be informed that illegal fobs are a concern. When they
see strangers entering the building, or the parking garage, using fobs. If it appears that
people are using unregistered fobs, all fobs for that unit need to be
immediately deactivated and the unit's registered owner come to the management
office to have the issue corrected.
Renting a parking spot
For security reasons, the renting of parking spots in condos is
restricted to only residents who live in the condo. (In this case,
underground parking is a shared facility.)
Yet, here is a situation where it appears that a resident is renting a parking spot to anyone who needs one.
With over 1,100 residential units between three buildings, it would be
very difficult to control who is accessing the parking garages and
thereby having access to the buildings.
With your tenants
able to get extra keys and fobs, you can't be sure if all of them were
surrendered when they move out. Best to change the door lock cylinder
and replace your fobs.
Besides allowing your business to run smoothly, as this report from Australia shows, cloning fobs and keys can work against you.
“Our building’s bylaws say no short-term rentals including Airbnb and they have
maximum occupancy of two people per bedroom,” says Max who asked us not
to use his surname. “One owner of a two-bed apartment, a lawyer, has
defied it, putting in a queen bed and four bunk beds in his investment
“But now he has egg on his face as the initial overseas short-term
tenants cloned the building swipe in Chinatown for $50-$70, cut the
key, and now have short-termers taking the chance to stay one or two
nights when its empty and the lawyer gets nothing. Of course he can’t
complain because he breached the strata (condo) bylaws anyway.”
The condo corporation
The condo can have an unknown number of fobs and keys floating around
that could be used by thieves to rob the residential units or lockers.
Condominiums need to have vigilant staff to watch out for the improper
use of copied fobs and keys.
Management should have strict rules that forbid security, the
superintendent and the cleaning staff from leaving the property with
their fobs and keys. That includes lunchtime. A missing key should be
treated as a very serious matter.
When upgrades are planned to the
electronic security system, change to a secure palm or fingerprint