Roofs Have Come So Far

One of the Best Ways to Protect Your Apartment Roof: Stop Tenants From Going up There

If you own an apartment building in an area where the tenants tend to be younger, you face a unique problem: Tenants trying to go onto the roof. They don't usually have sinister goals; they just want to chat with friends, look at the stars or city lights, or generally get out of their apartment into a space where they can be alone. The problem is that most apartment building roofs are not meant to be gathering spaces. Unless you have a roof deck set up, your building's roof is likely unsuitable to people walking on it because walking equals damage. If you can prevent tenants from going up there, you can preserve your roof for a longer time.

Just Stepping on the Roof Is a Risk

Unless your building has a metal roof, just stepping onto the roofing material can be bad. Flat commercial roofs, which are common on a lot of buildings, use asphalt-style material that can crack easily if someone stomps on it. No, the roof won't cave in, but those little cracks can lead to leaks. The only people who should ever walk up there are roofers and building maintenance workers, all of whom know where to step to minimize damage.

If you find that tenants have been going up there, get a roofing company to inspect the roof immediately. The roof could be fine, but if there is any damage, you need to have it patched, or the roof replaced, as soon as possible. The damage may be minute; you might not see it. But an experienced roofer can spot the signs before water leaks through during the next storm.

Doors Need to Be Locked and Gated Areas Fenced

If your building has a typical interior stairwell that leads to an enclosed door — in other words, the stairs going up to the roof are technically inside, and you can't even see the outside without opening the door at the top of the stairwell — make sure that door stays locked and that only staff have access to the keys.

If the stairs leading to the roof are outside, however — and you can just hop over a railing at the side of the door to get onto the roof — you need to extend those gates. Having a locked door there doesn't do any good if the person in the stairwell can just climb over a couple of railings instead. You'll see this configuration on a number of buildings from the 1950s and 1960s in warmer cities.

Most of your tenants will respect a simple sign that asks them not to walk onto the roof. But for those few who think hanging out on top of the building is cool, you have to take stronger measures. You can also ask the roofing company about which roof materials might be stronger and better able to withstand walking and weight if you want to be sure that someone's footsteps won't do damage.

For more information about apartment roofing, contact a roofer in your area.