Homeowners’ associations (HOAs) strive to maintain a higher quality of life for those in the neighborhood. In addition to preserving the community’s aesthetics and amenities, enhancing the safety and security of the neighborhood is a chief concern. There are several useful approaches that HOAs can implement to restrict access to the community and deter crime.
Some of the available measures include surveillance cameras, auto-locking entrances, alarms and security officers. When determining the most effective approach, it is important to consider why the association is seeking security. For example, is the neighborhood situated in a suburban or urban setting?
Has the area been experiencing recurring crime issues, such as burglaries at night, or are they experiencing problems with nonmembers trespassing in the swimming pool and other amenities? The answers to these questions can help determine if 24-hour security is needed.
Security Options For Homeowners Associations
Depending on the time periods when security is needed and the homeowners’ association’s budget, a combination of security equipment and security personnel can be used to meet the needs of the neighborhood.
Homeowners’ associations can install security equipment to help monitor low-level crimes including property damage, vandalism, trespassing and violations of HOA rules. Many HOAs install alarms, cameras and extra lighting to deter criminals; although this can be useful, security equipment alone is not always sufficient to prevent all types of crimes.
It is also important for homeowners’ associations to ensure that they install cameras in locations where homeowners’ privacy will not be violated to avoid invasion of privacy claims. It is also important to factor in the maintenance of systems such as lighting, alarms and cameras, which will require tasking someone with routine inspections. The costs of repairs and replacement must also be factored into the HOA’s security budget.
Neighborhood Watch Programs
Some HOA boards may opt to use a neighborhood watch program to encourage residents to get involved and enhance safety. This is typically volunteer members who patrol the neighborhood’s blocks in rotation.
However, it is important to establish ground rules, such as instructing residents to avoid taking action when they see a crime in progress and contact local law enforcement instead.
This may be a favorable option for an HOA with very limited funds; however, the homeowner’s association may want to consider distinguishing itself apart from the neighborhood watch and avoid maintaining any official relationship with the program. A direct correlation between the neighborhood watch program and the HOA may create a potential liability if something goes wrong.
Security officers can be hired to supplement security equipment used in the neighborhood. A smaller community may need to station a single security officer at the front gate to monitor who is entering and exiting the neighborhood. Larger HOAs may require several officers for rotating patrols within the community as well as monitoring common areas such as clubhouses, community pools and parks, which are at risk for unauthorized access, vandalism and theft.
Should HOAs Use A Professional Security Firm?
Although homeowners’ associations can hire security officers directly, there are several reasons why using a professional security firm is a smarter option.
Hiring directly may seem less expensive initially, but there are many hidden costs that HOAs will be responsible for that a professional HOA security firm would typically absorb, such as training, drug testing and background checks.
When hiring directly, an HOA’s insurance policy must also cover the security officers with general liability, employment practices liability, workers’ compensation and other types of policies.
However, using a security firm eliminates many of these concerns. A professional security firm will already have the correct insurance policies in place for its officers.
Reputable security firms complete extensive background checks and drug testing on their officers and train them on the most important elements of security; this is particularly important if the homeowners’ association requires armed officers.
They can be confident that those who are supplied by professional firms will be trained on the safe and correct use of firearms. Many firms also require their officers to complete refresher courses.
Reach Out To American Protection Group
If your HOA is seeking effective protection for the neighborhood, contact the HOA security experts at American Protection Group to find out how we can provide greater security and peace of mind for your members.
Our experienced security professionals can assess your neighborhood’s security concerns and identify weak points and other areas where security can be reinforced, in addition to providing armed and unarmed officers and alarm and monitoring systems.