HOA security is one of the most important parts of community management. All community members should play their part and stay alert to keep the neighborhood safe. Homeowners associations can also take several measures to heighten security and mitigate risks.
HOA Security: Who Is Responsible?
Homeowners associations exist to protect and increase property values. With that said, is HOA responsible for security in a community? Should the homeowners themselves shoulder the bulk of the burden? These questions plague the minds of many HOA members. But, the distribution of HOA security responsibilities isn’t always so clear-cut.
This is because a community’s governing documents may dictate the scope of the HOA’s responsibilities. Some governing documents place a large burden on the HOA board. Meanwhile, others are silent, leaving HOA security in the hands of the homeowners.
Nonetheless, even if the governing documents aren’t clear, the HOA should still take security measures to avoid liability. The HOA board has a fiduciary duty to act in the community’s best interest. This includes protecting the safety of the residents and their property. They may not be entirely responsible for people’s safety, but they should maintain a certain level of responsibility.
Effective HOA Security Measures for Planned Communities
It can be challenging to manage security in an HOA community. But there are steps that the HOA board can take to ensure the homeowners feel safe.
1. Create an HOA Neighborhood Watch
A neighborhood watch is a volunteer program that allows various homeowners to patrol the blocks in rotation. It helps the HOA monitor suspicious activity without having to hire professional services.
Homeowners associations can benefit greatly from creating a neighborhood watch program. It allows residents to feel safe while encouraging participation from willing homeowners. Moreover, neighborhood watch programs can prevent crime and keep people on their best behavior.
However, there should be rules for neighborhood watch programs. For example, homeowners should not intervene when they witness a crime. Instead, the first action should be to call local law enforcement.
Apart from this, the HOA should stay separate from the neighborhood watch. This allows the HOA to avoid potential liability. The community members may organize the neighborhood watch themselves, but it should not have an official relationship with the HOA.
2. Conduct a Security Inspection
The HOA can conduct a security inspection periodically. This allows the board to uncover and address the community’s vulnerabilities. The HOA can then take measures to rectify security issues and install security systems in the right places.
Some communities may fare well enough conducting this inspection themselves. But, while this allows the HOA to limit assessments, the board may miss important details. Hiring professionals to conduct the assessment may be a better idea.
3. Consider Installing Security Cameras
Security cameras are a great deterrent to crime and violent behavior. Consider installing cameras in key places like entrances, streets, and common areas. Communities should also regularly monitor the footage to ensure safety.
Apart from this, the board should carefully monitor the HOA access control. This allows only staff or key personnel to access footage so nobody can tamper with the recordings. Consider keeping the monitoring systems in a designated security room.
4. Host Security Training Programs
The association can only do so much to ensure HOA security. Hence, hosting security training and educational programs for the community members may be a good idea. Consider providing emergency preparedness programs where they can learn safety protocols during a shooting, crime, or other crisis.
The HOA can also orient residents on proper procedures, such as how to properly use equipment, how to contact law enforcement properly, and what to do in a fire. Homeowners associations can also provide safety tips, such as leaving the lights on while on vacation.
In addition, the HOA can partner with local institutions and law enforcement to host these training programs. This allows communities to form relationships with law enforcement while being educated on safety tips.
5. Maintain Security Systems
The homeowners association security plan may involve using security cameras and other systems, but it shouldn’t stop at installation. These systems need regular maintenance to remain useful. Hence, HOAs should schedule regular inspections and maintenance to keep them operational.
6. Utilize Landscaping
HOA perimeter security can be tough, especially if the association isn’t a gated community. But, whether the community has a fence or not, it’s a good idea to use landscaping to create a pseudo-barrier. For example, consider planting thorny shrubs on the perimeter to keep criminals away. This also prevents them from hiding in bushes.
Apart from these, the HOA should also take care of landscaping maintenance. Overgrown grass can serve as hiding spaces for offenders and criminals. Moreover, extended tree branches may grant them access to HOA property.
7. Use Efficient Communication Channels
Communication plays a vital role in ensuring HOA security. The board needs to clearly communicate the safety regulations to discourage bad behavior. They should also clearly inform all HOA members of the standard protocol during emergencies. Meanwhile, the members need an efficient way to contact the board should anything happen.
The HOA should also adopt multiple channels of communication within the community. In addition to traditional mail, the HOA should make use of electronic communication. Consider using platforms like email, text messages, social media, websites, and phone calls.
8. Avail of Professional HOA Security Services
Homeowners associations cannot accomplish everything alone. That’s why it may be wise to hire professional services. They have more experience and expertise when it comes to handling HOA security. Moreover, they can reduce the HOA’s liability. Hiring professionals may cost more, but it’s more effective than relying solely on the neighborhood watch or CCTVs.
Consider hiring a dedicated HOA security guard or specialized HOA security companies to keep the community safe. Ensure these companies and personnel aren’t associated with any board member to avoid potential lawsuits.
Emphasize Community Safety
HOA security should be of utmost priority for many communities. The association may not be solely responsible, but implementing these security measures will benefit everyone involved.
If your community is having difficulty managing HOA security alone, consider hiring a professional management company like Landmark Community Management. Contact us online or call us today at 512-569-5527 to learn more!