Community association management companies can assist HOA boards and members in protecting themselves and their personal property. The following suggestions represent some of the best ways non-gated communities should address security.
- The community should never let its guard down. In some ways, a non-gated community may cause members to be more watchful. Sometimes, gated communities create a false sense of security among residents. Association management companies and board members need to encourage the community never to take a laissez faire attitude when it comes to security.
Getting a gate code is pretty easy. Think about all the service personnel coming into and out of the neighborhood – pizza deliveries, home repairs, housekeepers and more. Even if a security guard is present around the clock, preventing unauthorized access isn’t guaranteed.
Therefore everyone in the community needs to stay alert and report any strange activity to law enforcement.
- Association management companies and HOA boards must stress good homeowner and community security practices. Burglaries are common crimes in communities across the country. According to the National Crime Prevention Council, 60% of all burglaries committed are done through unlocked doors and windows.
Therefore homeowners must continually be reminded to lock all accesses to their homes. In fact, some insurance companies may not cover losses if the burglar broke in through an unlocked entry. This simple measure can help prevent a potential crime.
What about landscaping? Are common grounds landscaped carefully so it would be difficult to hide an intruder? Have guidelines been developed for homeowners so they can create landscaping with safety in mind?
What about lighting? Same as with landscaping, both common grounds and individual properties should consider lighting dark areas.
The association management company can set up communication vehicles so all members remain in the loop regarding community security. A website and newsletter, for example, can keep homeowners up-to-date on the latest best practices for safety.
- Association management companies and HOA boards should offer homeowners advice on what to do when they’re on vacation. Leaving a home vacant for any length of time can make it a target for burglars. However, homeowners can take some measures to thwart potential break-ins while they’re away.
Publishing suggestions can help reduce risk and put homeowners’ minds at ease. For example, homeowners should use light timers and vary the light locations during the night. They should not put “vacation holds” on any deliveries, but have a neighbor pick up mail and deliveries instead.
The association management and board can offer materials on a variety of topics, including crime prevention and personal safety. They can also refer members to educational sources.
- The association management company and HOA board may consider surveillance and monitoring equipment, if economical. Costs for video and wireless technologies have been coming down recently. As a result, this form of protection has become a viable option for many non-gated communities. In addition to the HOA using it for the community, homeowners can buy systems for their residences and watch surveillance footage on their televisions.
Security alarms are common systems today. Although they may be a lower priority for law enforcement’s response, they can act as a deterrent. Anything that can give a homeowner an edge against crime should be considered. Some of these systems offer medical alerts as well, a potentially life-saving feature for elderly homeowners.
Finally, a non-gated community may opt to hire a security company that has guards patrol the neighborhood during regular intervals. These guards may be armed, unarmed or be accompanied by dogs. The HOA’s budget will determine what security measures are affordable.
- The association management company can help the community establish a neighborhood watch program. Criminals certainly don’t want to have hundreds of eyes watching them. And that’s just what a watch program does. Neighborhood watch programs are cost effective ways to cut crime. They also help neighbors get to know each other so strangers will be more easily identified.
Law enforcement can be invited to community meetings to help provide expertise. They can discuss security issues specific to a particular community, as well as recommended solutions.
The absolute best way to prevent crime in any community is for members to always be aware of what’s happening around them. Homeowners need to be proactive and never become lax about safety issues. Association management companies and boards must continually remind HOA members that crime has no boundaries and can happen anywhere and to anyone.