Homeowners associations (HOA) can be a bit of a mixed blessing. HOA bylaws are designed to guard your home’s value against neighbors’ eccentric paint colors and yards full of rusting cars, but they can occasionally interfere with your property – and even your security.
Today, nearly 63 million Americans live in an HOA-managed neighborhood, and while they provide for amenities like landscape maintenance, parks and pools, many homeowners prefer to manage their own security. Homeowners are sometimes surprised to discover their HOA requires written approval to install a home security system. Some HOAs hire full-time security guards or contribute towards each owner’s security systems, but many more leave their residents locked out of security options. Find out how you can discuss home security with your HOA.
Know the Rules
By and large, an HOA cannot influence changes you make inside your home – like painting or furniture – but they often have authority over changes to the exterior of your home, and that can include components of a home security system. Yard signs, physical barriers and, occasionally, window signs may face restrictions. It’s rare that an HOA would concern themselves with window stickers announcing a home security system, but you should make sure when having a security system installed.
Even though they are a common and effective security measure, many HOAs will also restrict the installation of exterior security cameras and floodlights, especially if you live in a condo or a neighborhood with shared common areas. You may hear complaints from an HOA about the sight of the cameras, but remember that if your HOA bylaws do not mention security cameras, you should be able to maintain them as part of your security package.
A good rule of thumb is if you think your neighbor might feel less private due to your security enhancements, you’re more likely to have a problem with your HOA.
It can seem backwards to ask for permission to do something on your own property, but you’re more likely to avoid HOA intrusion if you work with them to get permission before you install any security measures – especially physical infrastructure like fences or gates. Receiving upfront approval for any home security enhancement is the easiest way to deflect future problems.
Ask for Assistance
One of the smartest investments any HOA can make is contributing to home security systems for each resident. Many HOAs have come to rely on hired security and CCTV in their neighborhoods, but these often fall short of actual security needs, and can be circumvented simply by security officers being out of place. Reducing the risk of break-ins by contributing to in-home security throughout a neighborhood is often the most effective deterrent to burglary.
Start a Conversation
Even if you have a love-hate relationship with your HOA, the simplest way to improve your security is to discuss security options with the entire HOA. While they may require permission to make security improvements, talking with your HOA is the only way to guarantee enhanced security.