How To Improve HOA Security And Safety

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Safety and security are primary concerns in planned communities. After all, community residents should feel safer in their own homes than in public spaces. How can your neighborhood improve HOA security? Let’s examine the best methods below.

Is HOA Responsible for Security?

First and foremost, we should get one thing straight: security in an HOA community is not always the association’s responsibility. Unless the governing documents state otherwise, security is not the HOA’s obligation. It is not the HOA’s job to protect residents from crime. 

However, associations are responsible for maintaining any security-related common elements and facilities. These include replacing common area light bulbs and ensuring the community’s locks and doors function. If the HOA installs security cameras or motion detectors, the HOA must maintain those as well. Failure to maintain these fixtures could lead to legal liability.  

An HOA board should also exercise caution whenever it decides to remove a security feature. For example, the board may decide to stop hiring HOA security guards to save money. Before doing this, the board should document the reason for such removal. However, the HOA does face greater liability risk by eliminating security services than by not providing them in the first place. 

Moreover, while it isn’t the HOA’s job to protect the residents, the board should not ignore the community’s legitimate safety concerns. The board should not prevent homeowners from taking precautions to increase their security as long as it isn’t against the rules or state law. 

Lastly, the homeowners’ association should be careful about making promises to provide security. It could lead to liability as the HOA might be held responsible if someone falls victim to a crime within the neighborhood. The residents could claim the HOA was negligent and failed to fulfill its security responsibilities. 

However, if the HOA and its members agree to hire security services, then the HOA must push through with this agreement. They can find a service provider, and the cost is added to the HOA dues of its homeowners. 

Top 12 Tips to Improve HOA Security

With HOA security responsibilities out of the way, how can associations improve HOA security? Here are some security measures to consider.

1. Get a Security Assessment

A homeowners association security assessment inspects the community premises and outlines any vulnerabilities. The inspection identifies which areas are exposed to threats and what security issues the HOA has. 

In addition to identifying issues, the assessment can provide potential solutions and associated costs. The board can act on these solutions and incorporate them into the HOA’s operations. 

It’s best to hire a professional to conduct the security assessment. Typically, it can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000, depending on the scope and scale of the inspection. The association should also include the cost of personnel and equipment, which isn’t included in the price. 

2. Comply With Premise Liability Laws

Homeowners associations must comply with premise liability laws, which may require HOAs to prevent third parties from sustaining or causing injuries to others. The law per state may vary, so consult with your HOA attorney for verification. 

The HOA should install signs in common areas informing residents of these laws to avoid liability. Signs include anything from potential slippery areas to danger zones and warnings involving dog bites and wild animals. 

The HOA should also adequately maintain its common areas to prevent accidents in swimming pools, elevators, and walkways. Moreover, it should abide by any local codes and ordinances to avoid liability.

3. Create a Safety Committee

A good way to improve neighborhood security is by starting a safety committee. This committee will be dedicated to discussing possible security measures and identifying responsibilities. Its members can conduct inspections, analyze potential missing elements, and work with the budget committee to implement security measures. 

4. Form an HOA Neighborhood Watch

A neighborhood watch consists of several residents who take turns patrolling the community. They look for suspicious activity and post warnings on community websites and social media pages. This not only engages the residents but also keeps the community safe and deters criminals. 

5. Install a Security System

Security systems like gates, CCTVs, and motion detectors are all great ways to improve HOA security. Remember to identify where best to position these systems and ensure they cover all the common areas. It’s best not to leave any blind spots to deter criminal activity.

Besides installing these systems in entrances, HOAs can also add alarms and CCTVs in amenities like co-working spaces and clubhouses. These protect the residents from harm and discourage vandalizers from damaging property. 

6. Use Strategic Landscaping

Landscaping plays a big part in maintaining a community’s aesthetic appeal, but it can also introduce security vulnerabilities. Make sure there are no overgrown hedges that criminals can hide in. Also, it’s best to trim overhanging tree branches so trespassers can’t use them to enter the premises.

7. Pay Attention to Lighting

The HOA must be well-lit, especially at night. Make sure there’s enough light in all common areas. Remember to conduct routine inspections of all the neighborhood street lamps and public lighting fixtures. Ample lighting is often enough to discourage criminals from acting out. 

8. Implement Security Education and Training

All community members must be trained and well-educated when it comes to security. Consider inviting local law enforcement and fire departments to conduct seminars and training sessions to keep the residents informed. This way, they will know what to do when there’s a natural disaster, fire, or active shooter. 

9. Create an Emergency Preparedness Plan

The residents must be aware of what to do whenever there’s an emergency. Consider creating an emergency preparedness and response plan for common emergencies. If your community is prone to hurricanes and flooding, devise a plan for what to do with doors and windows and what items to stock up on. It may also be helpful to provide tips on what to do when there’s a flood. 

On the other hand, if the community is at risk of forest fires, it’s best to create a plan of action if a fire breaks out. The plan should include instructions on how to put out a fire and where to get fire extinguishers from. 

10. Employ Security Guards

Security personnel can manage entrances and exits to monitor incoming and outgoing guests and residents. The guards can also conduct routine checks, respond to threats, and verify the identity of anyone who comes in or out. Exposing one’s identity makes it harder for people to commit crimes. 

11. Implement a Visitor Management Procedure

Guests are often welcome in planned communities, but they also pose security risks. If your community sees a lot of visitors, it may be wise to have a visitor management procedure. Consider requiring them to provide identification and indicate the purpose of their visit. 

The HOA should also keep a database of member information, contact details, approved guests, and authorized vehicles to ensure safety. 

12. Hire a Security Company

A security company has tools and trained staff to protect community residents. They have professional experience with crime prevention and handling emergencies. However, these service providers are often expensive, so ensure enough funds are available before hiring them. 

Prioritizing Resident Safety

Striving to improve HOA security is not just about liability but also about keeping the community safe. While HOAs are not usually obligated to protect the residents, they can take measures to keep the community relatively safe.

Do you need help with HOA security? A reliable HOA management company like 88 Doors can help. Call us at (512) 348-8821 or get in touch with us online for more details!