For an HOA to meet the expectations of their residents, they must focus on more than amenities and payment systems. A critical issue for the board of directors and association managers is criminal risk and exposure. Whether the security solutions in place are sufficient in addressing the community’s exposure to criminal risk is determined best by a walk-through threat analysis with an industry professional, which can help the HOA board to determine what is lacking in their security measures.
HOA boards of directors are required to quickly respond to risks or suspected criminal activities as part of their fiduciary obligation to their members. If the board fails to act on a foreseeable or reported problem they can be held liable. But before spending on expensive security measures, the HOA must properly assess their risks and determine the solutions that are most realistic for the property.
In many cases boards perform their own walk-through security evaluations or ask local law enforcement to assist. While this can be helpful in identifying risks with simple solutions, HOAs with properties of greater size and those experiencing a string of break-ins, vandalism, or other security threats may benefit from a professional consultation. Such an assessment can help the HOA look for effective and affordable security solutions with a minimal effect on the livability of the community.
The Property Security Assessment
This assessment is grounded in the on-site inspection of the property, and includes a walking of the grounds, commons, and an internal and external inspection of several units. Also important is interviewing a sample of homeowners or tenants to get a ground-level perspective on community concerns and security events that may have gone unreported.
The inspection should seek to address the following:
- What are the HOA’s security exposures and vulnerabilities?
- Are entry doors solid core and installed with deadbolts and eyeholes?
- Are door strike-plates secured with 3” screws to prevent being kicked or forced open?
- Are locks re-keyed and not moved to another unit or amenity building? (This is more broadly relevant to a rental community than to ownership units)
- Are all keys for common area facilities closely controlled and accounted for?
- Are door jambs constructed with solid wood and free of any rot, breaks, cracks or other damage?
- Do all windows, including those on the second floor, close properly and are they equipped with locks?
- Are sliding door locks intact? Do they have more than one lock to prevent lifting the doors out of their tracks?
- Are the outdoors areas of the HOA complex well lit? (Good lighting should be the norm at all entrances and dark areas, including open parking areas and garages)
- Are shrubs and other landscaping trimmed to discourage hiding for an intruder?
- Is there control over who enters and leaves the building or association property?
- Are fire stairs locked from the outside so that residents can exit but others cannot enter?
- Are mailboxes and public areas well lit and equipped with good locks?
- Is the property well maintained? Are burnt-out light bulbs replaced promptly, landscaping maintained, and graffiti removed immediately?
- Are residents in the complex trustworthy neighbors who watch out for each other?
- Is there a “Neighborhood Watch Program?
After the security assessment is performed, the cost of recommended services, equipment, and possible employment of on-site guards can begin to be determined. The HOA can then finalize the threat assessment document, including risks, vulnerabilities, and recommended actions. This document can be used in possible future litigation.
Implementing the Solutions
Whatever the board has determined to best address their threat assessment and be within their budget should be installed by a security integrator. This can include IP cameras, visitor management systems, license plate reader cameras on entry and exit points, and access control systems on public areas and management only buildings.
In addition to these, there are a number of cost-free ways to improve the overall security of the community.
These can include:
- Maintaining and upgrading (when possible) the overall appearance and upkeep of a community
- Keeping close cooperation with local law enforcement
- Removing any graffiti promptly
- Directing residents to call law enforcement instead of board members or the manager when suspicious activity occurs
- Working to help neighbors know and recognize one another (community events, newsletters, etc.)
- Making sure parking space numbers do not match house numbers
By combining these measures with the implementation of security hardware and systems, the overall safety and security of the community can be greatly improved.
Through a thorough threat assessment and coordinated deployment of these solutions, the HOA can tangibly and measurably better the community. While it may cost up-front, the value of having a reputation as a clean, crime-free community cannot be overestimated and returns value in spades.
As a Security Integrator, Security Technology of South Texas is prepared to build a tailor fit system to meet the needs of the HOA and property management markets. Please contact us through email at firstname.lastname@example.org on our website or via phone at 210-446-4863 24/7