Q: We are a small homeowners association in Henderson, in a neighborhood where homes in our HOA are intermingled with homes of our neighboring HOA. For example, homes on one side of the street belong to our HOA while homes across the street belong to our neighboring HOA.
This switch from one HOA to the other can also occur mid-block on the same side of the street. We are not gated and the roads are public. Our HOA has no common property, but our neighboring HOA has a small amount of common property. One passes through the neighboring HOA to reach our HOA.
Mail theft, car break-ins, and occasional home invasions have occurred. Some homeowners have exterior security cameras, but many do not. We have a fairly active “next-door” community where neighbors sharing footage from their exterior cameras has come in handy.
Some of our HOA homeowners have asked if our HOA could become more involved in preventing crime by funding the purchase of security cameras and having them installed where views of the streets are not covered by existing homeowners’ cameras. The purpose would be to use the footage to help document a crime and to aid in identifying suspects of a crime. There is also the belief that the presence of cameras and signage would serve as a deterrent.
Because we have no common area, the cameras would have to be installed on homes in our HOA (with homeowner permission) or on the public light posts. We have been advised by our management company that installing HOA-purchased cameras on homes (even with the homeowner permission) would create a liability issue and also that one cannot put things like cameras or signs on the light posts. It has also been suggested (not by the management company, but by others who have investigated this topic) that capturing activity (or license plate numbers on vehicles entering or exiting) on our streets would also be problematic.
We have, therefore, limited our HOA efforts to enforcing those things in our covenants, conditions and restrictions, which impact safety (i.e., exterior lamp posts), encouraging our homeowners to work together and with our neighboring HOA to form Neighborhood Watch groups), and to pass along tips for making our homes less likely to be selected for invasion (increase your exterior lighting, add a security system, add exterior cameras, etc.).
Is this truly all we can do? What, if anything, can an HOA like ours (a non-gated community, sharing streets with another HOA, and having no common area of our own) legally and from a liability, standpoint do in regard to security/video cameras? What can our neighboring HOA (that has some common area) do?
We appreciate any help and guidance you can provide.
A: Your management company has provided you with excellent advice. There just are too many legal and liability issues. What you can do is to promote homeowners purchasing their own security cameras to protect their homes and vehicles. Form a Neighbor Watch program, which can be very successful if you are able to obtain support from your homeowners.
Find out if the neighboring homeowner association will work with you in implementing any security program, such as Neighborhood Watch. Finally, contact the area police commander to discuss the crime issues in your neighborhood and find out what the police can do to assist your association.
Barbara Holland is a certified property manager, broker and supervisory certified association manager. Questions may be sent to email@example.com.