This post was originally published on May 27, 2015. It has been updated as of February 6, 2018
Whether you serve on a homeowners association’s board of directors or as the HOA manager, safety is definitely a high priority for you. You know that having a safe community not only gives your residents peace of mind, but can also draw new owners to your HOA while helping you keep the best families there. A significant portion of residents thoroughly research a neighborhood or community before moving in, and crime rates and resident safety is one of the most pressing concerns. In addition, in a 2016 study of U.S. mayors’ State of the City addresses, public safety was found to be discussed in 70 percent of speeches.
As the HOA, it is your job to help residents to feel at ease when they are at home or walking around in their neighborhood. How, exactly, are you supposed to safeguard your HOA, though? You may not be able to prevent all crimes from occurring, but you can create actionable plans to reduce the risk of unsafe occurrences and ease your residents’ concerns.
So you can best protect your community, here are a few tips on how to make your HOA safer:
No matter how large your HOA is, it’s a good idea to give your owners a chance to get to know one another, both to increase the sense of community in the association and to help them to recognize new faces on the property. We recommend doing so by establishing a welcoming committee and a neighborhood watch.
The welcoming committee will help your residents to recognize familiar faces, and a neighborhood watch can have the following benefits:
- Increasing the sense of safety in the community
- Building stronger bonds
- Deterring crime (according to FBI neighborhood watch program statistics, communities with a watch program are 43 percent less likely to be victims of crime)
- Forming relationships with local law enforcement
- Preventing more than just crime; a neighborhood watch can also look out for fires, accidents, or injuries in the neighborhood.
Parking Spot Labeling
Labeling parking spots has proven to be a necessary practice in order to keep residents and guests organized with their cars. However, it is recommended that parking spot numbers do not match house numbers, if possible. Though this may be a small hassle for the association and the confused guests (particularly if your spot numbers already match up to units), this will reduce the risk of potential thieves knowing a residence is unoccupied through its empty parking space.
Choose at least two typical units (though more is always better) and give them a thorough security inspection. Ensure that windows are equipped with locks, shrubs are trimmed so they could not hide an intruder, and outdoor lights are functional. This should be done on a regular basis, and should also feature inspections from local emergency services (such as the fire department) in order to ensure that there are no potential hazards in the association.
However, when it comes to inspections, know the law: never inspect or investigate a unit without the resident’s permission (unless it is an emergency situation), document everything, and always remain unbiased when performing inspections.
About Scott Litman Insurance Agency
At Scott Litman Insurance Agency, we are dedicated to protecting HOA’s like yours. We have a unique understanding of the industry and the common risk exposures that you face in your daily operations. In fact, we find that 90% of the policies we review are missing coverages that violate the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&R), exposing the board, HOA and management to lawsuits– which is why our comprehensive policies are tailored to meet your specific needs at competitive prices. For more information about our products, contact our experts today at (818) 879-5980 ext. 201, or fill out our online form.