When homeowners start to notice an increase in crime in the homeowners association, it's not necessarily the fault of the HOA, but the fault of the individuals who make bad choices and seek a location to carry out their dealings with easy access that allows for a quick exit. There are ways the the Association be proactive to help the community remain a safe place to live.
1. Enlist Help from Local Authorities
In one instance, when the HOA board was alerted to the increase in crime creeping into the community the assistance of the local police department was enlisted to provide extra patrols, since the Association could not afford private patrols. Once the police were engaged the homeowners association discovered that there was a crack down of crime in the inner city, which was pushing the crime to the outskirts of town and right into their community.
2. Keep Homeowners Informed
The Board sent a letter to all homeowners and renters regarding the crime issue and invited them to a board meeting for a discussion. When the crime issues started affecting property values and safety there was a significant turnout for the board meeting, when usually only one or two homeowners or renters would attend.
The homeowners and renters, along with the HOA board, had a lively discussion of the crime issue and wanted to find a solution. An ad hoc committee was formed to develop ideas that would resolve the crime issues.
3. Implement a Plan
The committee established a plan to secure the perimeter of the community, cut back landscaping that would provide hiding places, instruct all homeowners and renters to call 911 when they see anything out of the ordinary, recommend that homeowners and renters leave outside lights on at night, and establish a neighborhood watch.
Don’t wait for the situation to get worse. Homeowners can even take individual actions to help them feel safer in the Association by installing a security system in their home (make sure to check your HOA's home security policy), alerting neighbors when they are going to be gone for long periods of time, and teaching their children how to take proper safety precautions as well.
As with any issue facing a homeowners association, taking immediate action to identify the issue and find a solution is crucial.