The days when an apartment building’s ‘security system’ consisted of a tricky front door lock and the landlord’s ill-tempered dog are long past. Today, security measures range from old-style deadbolts to high-tech biometric screening equipment, with a lot of technology in between that includes both electronic and human components. For condo association board members and others living in multifamily buildings or developments, understanding the functions and necessities of these security components is essential to having a safe community. Any resident should know how these various measures interlock to form a web of protection for them and their property.
Knowing What You Need
But how should a residential high-rise or association pinpoint its ideal level of security? Such an inquiry starts with determining the criteria the building’s management should take into account when considering a security installation or upgrade. Particularly in these sometimes stressful economic times, cost often is the most important factor for a board to consider when determining its community’s security needs.
“There’s a big difference in the way security is handled between HOAs, townhomes, and high-rise condos,” says Emmett Frederick, Vice President and General Manager of Interstate Security Services in Las Vegas. “Number one, HOA communities usually involve more enforcement activities like gate access, patrol, and even speed control—all the things police can’t do on private property.”
Because failing to provide adequate security could be the basis of a lawsuit if a major crime is committed or a person is harmed, adequate security for condos and HOAs is about dollars and cents as much as it is about life and limb. Lawsuits against an HOA for inadequate security could be time-consuming, and also expensive to all of the community’s residents. That’s why it is crucial for a board to conduct a thorough evaluation of their community’s security needs at least every few years, residential security experts say.
Many court cases have established that providing a safe atmosphere for residents is an obligation of the building’s management. But the idea of “adequate” security for a building is something of a moving target—depending upon the neighborhood, or even on the block in which the building is located, or the day, month, or time of year, what could be deemed as adequate security at one moment might be seen as lacking later.