Neighborhood Watch
Safety is one of the most important aspects of having a neighborhood that homeowners want to be a part of. Keeping crime and vandalism rates low or nonexistent should be a top priority for any HOA board, but accomplishing this may be more difficult in some neighborhoods than others. No matter the specific needs of your community, there are still a few best practices board members can help implement in their neighborhoods:

  • Lock Up
    Whether your community already has an automated gate or not, the simplest way to prevent unwanted intruders is to remind homeowners to lock up at night or when they’re away. In fact, this may be even more important to do in gated communities since homeowners may have a false sense of security.
  • Leave A Light On
    A lighted neighborhood is a safer neighborhood. If the streets and public areas in your community are lacking in terms of light, the board should consider investing in energy efficient solutions that solve the problem in an affordable way. But beyond public spaces and streets, keeping homes light at night is important, too. Encourage homeowners to leave an exterior light on at night, and if cost is a concern, remind them of the options for energy efficient bulbs that use just a few dollars’ worth of energy per year.
  • Create a Community Network
    When neighbors in your community know each other, they can watch out for each other, too. Knowing which neighbors belong where can make it easier to notice when something or someone is out of place.
    As a board, you can help foster that sense of community by creating events in your neighborhood that rally homeowners together. This could be by simply encouraging attendance at HOA meetings, or even planning community events like BBQs, picnics, community garage sales, etc. You could also consider creating and distributing a neighborhood contact list so homeowners can easily alert others if they notice anything suspicious or unusual.
  • Take A Walk
    If crime or vandalism has been an issue in your community in the past, creating a neighborhood watch program could do a lot to help. Encouraging neighbors to do a casual inspection of the community during morning, afternoon, or evening walks helps keep an eye on what’s going on, and also can deter would-be trouble makers as they see more people out and about.
  • Keep Things Clean
    A clean community isn’t just pleasant to look at. It also sends a message to everyone who comes into the neighborhood that it’s a place people care about, and one that they are committed to caring for. Consider enforcing guidelines about “junk” items on driveways or on the street, front yard maintenance, etc.
  • Speak Up
    Most importantly, encourage residents to report any crime or suspicious activity they may see around the neighborhood, even if it seems like a small incident. If your community has an on-site security company, make sure homeowners have their contact information as well as the police’s non-emergency number somewhere accessible in their home, such as on a fridge magnet.

While the board can implement a few things on their own to improve safety, in the end, it also takes a group effort with homeowners who care about the community. Board members who follow these few basic guidelines and work to get homeowners in their community involved in the process can make a big impact on keeping the neighborhood’s status as a great place to live.

For more, checkout our Guide to HOA Community Safety.