Residents love to hate homeowners’ associations. The internet positively teems with tales of HOAs run amok. Consider the 2018 tale of a resident who suffered a heart attack while desperately trying to install sod to avoid a fine. Or an HOA that got uppity over the color of a child’s playhouse. Or a resident who ended up with $19,000 in fees after planting a plot of pansies.
But despite those oh-so-popular horror stories, most homeowners’ associations want only the best for their residents — and that’s particularly true when it comes to security. Wondering what some of the best low-cost security solutions for HOAs are? Read on to learn what we recommend.
Property Security Assessment
Most boards intuitively understand the importance of finding the best security solutions for HOAs, but many may not know that professional literature backs up their instinctual understanding. For instance, the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency studied the factors that went into burglars’ selection of properties from which to steal. Much of their choice owed to “the proportion of easily accessible targets.” In other words, they tended to avoid properties with motion sensors or doorbell cameras or some comparable security technology.
However, HOA’s also know that their hands are somewhat tied when it comes to implementing security measures. For example, even if criminal activity has occurred and several residents think they’ve found the best security solutions for home use, they can’t simply install them willy-nilly. The Washington Post rightly notes, “Almost every association has within its governing documents a section that requires owners to obtain approval of any improvement or change to the exterior of their property. The installation of a surveillance camera would be subject to this requirement.” Additionally, an HOA could run into legal trouble by placing video surveillance systems in common areas if they “will or might disturb the peace, quiet, safety, comfort, or serenity of the occupants of surrounding property.”
That’s why a property security assessment is essential for most HOAs. Not only will such an assessment help protect against breaches in security, it will keep you from infringing on residents’ rights or implementing unnecessary “solutions” that do more harm than good.
Best Ways to Improve My HOA’s Security
So once you have received your property security assessment, what steps should you take to improve your HOA’s security? No matter what the report says, we can offer several more-or-less standard things you could address. Consider the following as our list of the eight best security solutions for HOAs.
First, consider whether or not your current security measures (or lack thereof) could make you a target for a lawsuit. Premises liability law in Florida is pretty clear: You must maintain your property and ensure it’s safe and secure — and that may include on-site security systems. According to attorney Amanda K. Barritt, “Under Florida law, landowners, including Associations, owe residents and guests a duty to take reasonable steps to protect against foreseeable crimes. Whether an Association’s safety measures were reasonable is typically a question for a jury.” Frankly, no HOA wants the situation to escalate to that level. If you see obvious deficiencies in your security setup, deficiencies everyone has known about for some time, take immediate steps to remedy them.
Ensure you have security-friendly landscaping. When HOAs think about landscaping, they usually focus on its general attractiveness and curb appeal. Improper landscaping, though, can pose a security risk. Bushy trees may help criminals break into an area, and thick foliage could unintentionally provide cover for thieves. And while one of the best security solutions for homes may involve simply trimming back plants, planting visually attractive plants that aren’t pleasant to touch (think spiny or thorny bushes or shrubs) can serve as an effective deterrent.
Put residents to work for you. First things first: Do not under any circumstances hire a resident or a security company that a resident works for or runs to provide security services for your community. That’s not what we mean by “put to work.” Such an action would place HOAs at significant risk, some of which could possibly be legal. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t let residents have a hand in their own security. Many residents simply don’t understand that an HOA can only be responsible for the common areas of a community. A resident-led neighborhood watch can do an excellent job at deterring crime through the rest of your community.
Establish a positive connection with local police. Do you know what law enforcement hates? HOAs that ping them constantly with low-priority complaints. Do you know what they love? Communities that respectfully connect with them, allow them to educate residents, and respect their expertise. Such rapport will only increase your community’s security when a real issue arises.
What to Look for When Searching for the Best Security Solutions for My HOAs
At AT&I Systems, we specialize in a wide array of high-tech security solutions. Some of these include:
- intrusion detection systems
- fire alarms systems
- virtual security guards
- CCTV systems
- gate access systems
- license-plate recognition systems
- burglar alarms
You might expect us to recommend some of these solutions to bolster security for your HOA. Indeed, we truly believe that they would! However, every community is different, and systems need to match community needs. So allow us to continue our list of eight best security solutions by saying that you should:
Install only effective security technologies. “Effective” is a bit of a loaded word when it comes to discussing security systems. For instance, are CCTV systems effective? Absolutely! They prevent crimes again and again — as long as there’s someone watching the camera. But if not? Well, then such a system is worse than nothing, granting a false sense of security to residents and decision makers alike. Consider the entirety of your security situation prior to making a purpose. That being said:
Don’t assemble a system piecemeal. Security-related crises happen, and once they do, it’s natural to want to install something — anything — that gives your HOA and residents an added sense of security. Unfortunately, adding a piece here or a piece there to an existing system is asking for trouble. So is starting with one small system and then attempting to cobble together a more comprehensive solution. Integration is the name of the game when it comes to security, and if your systems aren’t talking with one another, they also aren’t talking to you.
Maintain what you’ve purchased. On a related note, an unmaintained security system can’t do its job. Entropy exists, and every solution will eventually run into a problem that requires servicing and repair. If an HOA skimps on maintenance or (worse yet) installs a system that can’t be adequately maintained, it simply won’t do its job.
Employ expert management when needed. Setting up proper security measures can seem daunting. Fortunately, no HOA should feel as though it has to do everything itself. AT&I offers multiple labor-saving solutions that take the difficulty out of keeping your residents safe, solutions such as virtual guards and always-online cloud management software.
What Benefit Do Security Solutions Offer?
Installing a well-integrated security system does more than merely keep residents safe. It also protects an HOA from legal woes and helps instill a sense of pride in the people who live in your community. What’s more, it’s the smart and ethical thing to do! Finally, getting a security system doesn’t have to break the proverbial bank. Let AT&I Systems assess your property and find the right solution for you. We’re a trusted partner in protection throughout the Sunshine State. For decades, businesses and organizations as diverse as strip malls, financial institutions, medical-services providers, and multi-family housing communities have trusted our expertise. Want to ensure that your community remains safe? Contact or call us today at (866) 436-3516!