Important details for associations to consider when purchasing or updating security for the community.
There's no doubt that having an active security program within your community is an attractive benefit to homeowners. Ensuring the safety of the homes and common areas is a priority that everyone can agree upon. For the association that is looking into adding or updating their security system, there are several things to consider before making any changes or additions.
Conduct an assessment or survey
If you're considering adding security or updating your current system, the first step should be to assess what security measures, if any, are currently in place and what problems or issues the community is facing. An effective way to make sure you are properly addressing all the right needs is to conduct a survey that can identify all areas of possible weakness or vulnerability.
Consider and review all possible security solutions
Once you've identified any and all security issues, you can then sit down and make a list of possible solutions that can be implemented. The goal of HOA's is to mitigate risk of theft and criminal activity throughout the community and to deter and deny access to those with malicious intent.
Solutions should be listed and priced out, keeping in mind that security systems are an investment that can lead to higher property values. That being said, even though everyone wants to live in a safe community, costs of security will impact HOA fees.
Level of and type of security systems
Before you decide to hire guards to man the front gate and to patrol the community 24 hours a day or to install closed circuit video cameras, the board should meet to discuss how much security is needed and which solutions are the most desirable and cost effective. Some considerations include:
- Is your community located in an area where crime is a problem?
- Is the community gated and if so, is it accessible by code?
- How many hours a day is security needed?
- Which type of security would be best for your community?
- Do you need a 24/7/365 manned gate?
- Do you need guards to patrol in vehicles?
- Should you install locks that require a key in common areas like community pools, fitness centers, tennis, and basketball courts?
- Would increased lighting in certain areas deter minor crimes?
Hiring guards through a security firm vs. hiring directly
If you decide that your needs necessitate security guards, you have the option of hiring directly or using a firm. Although you may save money by hiring security guards on your own, you will have to foot the bill for background and drug testing as well as training. When you use a security firm, these costs are usually absorbed and while you may pay a slightly higher fee for the manpower, you will not only be assured that the guards have been effectively vetted, but also that they are insured by the firm, a cost you will not have to incur.
Communicating security issues and proposed updates
A big part of keeping your community safe is communicating with and keeping your homeowners up to date on what's going on. Incidents should be posted on your community website or in your newsletters to ensure that everyone is aware of any issues. Remember that your residents can help by reporting anything suspicious and by doing so, your community can become safer. A neighborhood watch program is always a good idea and one that can be discussed at your next HOA meeting.
Safety in the community is something that every HOA should be concerned with and on top of. Even after you've updated or implemented security measures, it's important to regularly assess your situation to ensure that what you are doing is effective both in terms of cost and safety.
For more guidance on running your association, get in touch with us today. For years, we have concentrated on association law and offer our clients an innovative flat fee retainer program that ensures you have the professional legal help you need at all times.