Private security is a high-end service that can add to the value provided by an HOA or townhome association. But bringing in private security for an HOA community has pros and cons for master-planned communities. Here are some factors to consider.
Outline Clear Objectives Before Hiring HOA Security
First, it’s important to determine what the association wants to accomplish with security. Here are five key areas of consideration.
- Access control (managing gates and other entrances)
- Traffic safety (deterring speeding and other unsafe driving behaviors)
- Parking enforcement (identifying members or visitors using parking spaces without authorization)
- Nuisance reduction (addressing noise disturbances, littering, or misuse of amenities)
- Crime deterrence (reducing vandalism, trespass, burglary, etc.)
If one or more of these areas can’t realistically be addressed with policy updates, cooperation of the community, and enforcement of existing guidelines, it may be time to consider hiring an outside security firm.
When Is Private Security for an HOA Community Worth It?
For luxury properties such as golf course communities, private security including full-time shifts with guards may be a sensible investment. The risk of trespassing is substantial, and residents will have a high expectation for exclusivity. For smaller communities, there must be a balance between the cost of private security and the value received. Electronic security might make more sense than live patrols or a guard station on-site. Some security firms even offer drone surveillance when it’s not realistic or necessary to have boots on the ground.
In any case, you should follow standard practices for soliciting and evaluating multiple bids. This will help you understand what’s available and how it fits within the available budget. Talking to experienced security companies is smart. They may have suggestions for additional options you haven’t even considered. In the end, security is only worth it if the community members are willing to pay the for it. So, finding effective solutions at the right price point is essential.
Balancing Privacy and Security
The principles of freedom and safety can come into direct conflict when introducing new security measures into a community. And no one likes nosy neighbors. With the price of 24/7 surveillance continuing to drop, it’s cheaper than ever to know exactly what’s going on in a neighborhood. While that makes it simpler to identify intruders and control who has access, some residents may object to having their comings and goings monitored.
Your property owners’ association board needs to make a convincing case that quality of life is being measurably improved . The association also needs to make sure that reasonable privacy levels will be maintained. For example, signage should be posted in areas where surveillance is taking place. The HOA’s security cameras should be in a position that is not videoing the inside of resident’s homes. This includes planning drone flight paths to avoid invasion of privacy. Residents should know practical information such as what type of security footage is being gathered, how it will be stored (and for how long), who will have access, and how it will be used.
For example, will recordings be made available for review if there is an incident that needs to be investigated? Who can submit a request for this review? Do all residents have permission to view the footage. Are residents other than those on the board ever permitted to look at footage? If a resident reports a crime, who is the board or the security company responsible for supplying law enforcement with footage for investigation?
Risks and Liability with Private Security for HOAs
If your HOA does decide to install surveillance or hire security, be aware that managing these services appropriately is a serious responsibility. If surveillance cameras and security features like gates and fences are not kept in proper operation, this might create liability for the HOA and management if a preventable incident occurs. There should be processes in place for regular inspection and evaluation of security measures.
A bad experience with a guard or patrol officer can sour a resident or visitor’s perspective of the entire community. Before hiring a security firm, review the guidelines for how security personnel will interact with residents and guests. There should be training in place to prevent unfairly profiling groups or individuals. All it takes is a patrol officer questioning a resident for trying to enter their own home for the community to start feeling that security might be more of a threat than a benefit. And if things go really wrong with a security company, the HOA board may come under fire for hiring that vendor in the first place.
Make the Right Choices for Security
Want to ensure you are working with a licensed, experienced security firm for your HOA? Ardent Residential takes the time to find qualified and dependable private security for HOA communities. We can help manage your property and find the right fit for your needs and budget. Contact our team today to learn more.