When you think of staying safe in your neighborhood, what comes to mind? You probably lock your doors at night, keep a porch light on, communicate with neighbors if something or someone seems suspicious, maybe even have a guard dog to alert you of anything out of the ordinary. Generally, safety in a neighborhood means lighted streets, low crime, kids at play signs, a neighborhood watch, or even a security patrol. Safety in a homeowners association neighborhood isn’t all that different, but with recent budget cuts to public safety departments and less enforcement, proactive safety is crucial.
Below are a few things to think about that might resonate with the members in your homeowners association.
Does safety mean hiring a security patrol?
If your Association has a security patrol, consider taking a step back to reevaluate its necessity. Survey the community and ask members whether or not they think the Association even needs a security patrol. Does it make the members feel safer? Have they ever utilized the patrol? What can HOA members rely on the security patrol to do? When the HOA takes on a law enforcement type of responsibility, not only could it provide a false sense of security, but liability issues also come into play.
Does safety mean having a neighborhood watch?
Starting up a neighborhood watch program in the Association can be beneficial because it brings together members of the community around a common goal: safety in the Association. However, this is something homeowners would take responsibility for, and not something the Association would necessarily implement or pay for any expenses incurred. Learn more about starting a neighborhood watch program here.
Does safety mean seeking the guidance of experts?
An HOA board should rely on the guidance of experts to make reasonable business decisions, such as hiring a security patrol. They can help:
- Define what services are being provided
- Set the expectations of homeowners
- Recommend proper protocols – for example, in what instances should members call the police department vs. alert the security patrol if that service is provided?
It’s especially important to work closely with your insurance company and attorney to make sure you are properly covered and understand what you may or may not be held liable for.
An HOA board’s job to protect the Association and keep it safe is bigger than it might seem. Safety and well-being should be a priority. You can replace property, but you can’t replace people’s lives.