Homeowners associations (HOAs) or Condo Associations, are more popular than ever. In 2015, 66.7 million Americans were members of a homeowners association, equivalent to 20 percent of the population, a Community Associations Institute study found. Unfortunately, the growth of homeowners associations has made them a more attractive target for burglars. Why? Seventy percent of HOAs are managed by elected volunteers, says HOA-USA.com, meaning that most HOA managers are amateurs at security. Here are four of the most common security mistakes homeowners associations make, and some tips on how to avoid them.
Failing to Conduct a Security Review
Many HOAs start off on the wrong foot by failing to conduct a security review, says SecurityNet.com. Without taking this basic step, you don’t know what vulnerabilities you have, so it’s impossible to take adequate counter-measures.
A thorough security review should begin with considering where you live — different locations have different needs. For example, if your HOA occupies a high-rise or is spread out over a large area, you should probably have a professional conduct your review. A full review should be conducted at least every three years, but once a year is better. If you live in a high-crime area, you may need to do it as often as every six months, says HOALeader.com. Your HOA’s security company will often give you a free review if they’re your current provider.
Read More: Do I Need a Warranty with a Condo Purchase?
Taking the Wrong Measures
Failing to conduct a security review can easily lead to taking the wrong security measures. After a high-profile crime incident, a common reaction is to panic and take measures that calm resident fears but don’t necessarily solve the problem. For instance, hiring a guard is a common response, but a guard only provides security in the particular area they’re covering, which may leave other vulnerabilities unsecured.
A good rule of thumb is to use guards for situations where a human response is required to solve a security issue and to deploy technology where a human response is not required. When deploying technology, make sure to choose equipment that’s up to the task. For instance, a cheap security camera may not be effective at capturing suspects’ identifying features, such as hair and eye color in low lighting. Be sure to choose a high-tech HD security camera system that can capture high-resolution detail even in low lighting.
Read More: What is a Warrantable Condo?
Failing to Remove Landscaping Concealment Opportunities
Burglars depend on concealment, and allowing them opportunities to hide is another common mistake. Most homeowners associations remember to provide lighting, which is an important deterrent, but they often forget to remove bushes, hedges and low-hanging foliage that criminals can use for concealment, says Spectrum Association Management.
Make your landscaping less friendly to burglars by planting thorny shrub barriers at your HOA’s main entrance and exit points, including the perimeters of parking lots and boundaries between neighboring communities. Keep shrubs narrow and low, and keep tree canopies trimmed. Flatten any vegetation that obstructs views of your HOA’s parking lot.
Forgetting to Conduct Periodic Maintenance Checks
The best security equipment won’t help you if it’s not working. Failing to establish a routine maintenance check procedure is another mistake HOAs often make. Assign responsibility for periodic maintenance checks to our HOA manager. Schedule regular checks of gates, lights, motion detectors, alarms, cameras, video recorders and any other security equipment. Lastly, it’s important to create an accountability mechanism to make sure these checks are conducted on schedule.
Thank you to the Realty Times Staff for pulling together this list. If you plan on buying in the Panama City Beach area in the next couple months give us a call! We know the PCB HOA’s for just about every condo complex on the beach and off.