Thursday, March 25, 2010

How much security does your association need to provide?

Does your association have an electronic gate, a manned guard gate, roving patrols or strategically located video cameras in your community? Just how much security does your association need to provide?

This answer depends on the type of community you have, the requirements in your governing documents and any history of crime you may have experienced in your association. Some governing documents do require the board to provide specific security measures such as roving patrols. Others are silent on the issue but the board’s duty to protect the health and safety of the community residents is implicit.

Of course no matter what level of security your documents require or you have traditionally provided, any type of criminal incident in your community necessitates an examination of current security and a discussion on what else needs to be done to prevent another incident from occurring. A violent crime against a person in the association parking lot might require upgrades in lighting the premises, trimming or removing shrubbery where people can hide and the institution of roving patrols during certain hours. An incident of vandalism might require strategically placed video cameras to capture any future incidents on film. Having a visitor’s log at a front gate so every vehicle is identified and that list can later be given to the police has also proved useful for many communities.

Not examining security measures after a criminal incident and upgrading as needed could certainly result in the association being held liable for negligence in the event a future crime occurs on common areas.

I am always concerned that a manned guard gate might give a false sense of security to residents living in those gated communities. In my own community, for example, our security guards are really controlling ingress and egress and not much else. We have a wall but certainly anyone with nothing more than a step stool anyone could hop over it. Communities are well advised to encourage residents to take their own steps (in addition to measures provided by the association) to protect themselves and their property. These measures should include locking their vehicles and homes each night, trimming shrubbery in front of their homes and units, alarming their property and generally being aware of their surroundings.

Staying safe should be a partnership between the board and the owners with security being examined at least once a year if no incidents have occurred to see what new technology and measures should be considered

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this post. I read it with much interest, as I'm on the board of a gated, 20-year-old condo community in California. We've had next to no crime and very few, if any, incidents of any sort since the place was built in 1992. One street in our development backs up to open space, with a very shallow city-owned creek. Now some board members are proposing erecting a gate where our private street meets the open space. The idea is to prevent coyotes and vandals from entering our street (though neither has been an issue). They also say the gate will protect us from liability in case someone from our development wanders down to the creek and drowns (unlikely, as the water is about 4 inches deep), but we don't own the creek anyway (though we do own some of the land leading to the creek). I am skeptical that this gate will solve a single problem. Wondering if you'd mind weighing in? Thanks.