Whether considering HOA security for a two-flat condo or a multi-building community with hundreds of units, security cameras are a key component to security and safety. In this article, we cover laws and guidelines when it comes to HOA security, the reasons to use a condominium security system, and why cameras aren’t the only component of security to be aware of.

Can an HOA restrict security cameras?

As homeowners become concerned about security and safety, they may take it upon themselves to install cameras. Can an HOA restrict security cameras? The answer is yes… via the association Rules and Regulations. Here’s a sample HOA video surveillance policy amendment that addresses this:HOA video surveillance policy

Alternatively, HOA governing documents may require the board be the one to provide any security measures. We recommend homeowners bring security concerns to their association board, and understand that if there is real risk, they have a fiduciary responsibility to address it. It is best that an HOA handle the condominium security system and keep such matters out of the hands of individual homeowners, who, among other things, may not all agree. We recommend that Boards consult professional advice. Consider several reasons for this:

  1. Only high-end, commercial-grade cameras will suffice for condo and townhouse security cameras. Security cameras with 1080p lenses can zoom 400%, which is necessary for license plate and facial recognition.
  2. Comprehensive HOA security accounts for a lot more than cameras alone can do. See the following two condominium security system sections for details.
  3. Any HOA video surveillance policy needs to adhere to Illinois’ security camera privacy laws. One reason to restrict homeowners from being in charge of their own security cameras is that cameras cannot be, accidentally or otherwise, pointed in a way that violates someone’s privacy. The HOA is responsible that this and other privacy laws do not get broken.
  4. Property protection is also a factor. For example, the association may require townhome owners get board authorization in order to mount cameras to siding since this will cause permanent damage.

To be effective, your cameras must not only cover the property perimeter:

  • front entry and lobby
  • each floor
  • garage doors
  • garbage area
  • storage
  • mail area

Why use a condominium security system?

Crime is an obvious reason why cameras are an important component of a condominium security system. Cameras help deter criminals, monitor who is in or near the building, help law enforcement identify perpetrators, and connect crimes together. However, there are many other ways in which HOA security cameras can benefit an association’s members. We interviewed Joshua Mailey, President of Signal 88 Security in Arlington Heights, to detail what those are.

Cameras can assist management via monitoring and notifications. Cameras can identify things like pet owners not cleaning up after their dog, or if unauthorized vehicles are using the parking lot, helping management enforce rules and regulations and resolve disputes. If someone enters the pool or other restricted area when they are not supposed to, the system can alert the property management office. Or, if residents or vendors are not properly using the freight elevators, cameras will capture the details. HOA security cameras go a long way to enforcing rules and keeping the peace.

Joshua urges us to look at the benefit condominium security systems can bring to quality of life for those living in the community. The challenges of people living together harmoniously while having to share spaces are inevitable. Comprehensive condo security systems can identify things such as:

  • after-hours maintenance issues
  • criminal behavior
  • suspicious activity
  • noise issues
  • what actually happened when one neighbor complains about another neighbor’s actions

HOAs will get their greatest return on investment when creating a condominium security system that goes beyond just cameras.

Condominium security system beyond cameras

Rick Bolda of IT Risk Managers explains that utilizing a cloud-based security system allows management to view data from anywhere at anytime. If you have multiple properties, you can watch them all from a central site. Cloud systems are easier to manage and maintain, and they are more reliable. It saves cost on distributing techs to troubleshoot or maintain, as most work can be done remotely.

There are several other key elements that Rick and Joshua recommend addressing to maximize return on investment when assessing your community’s needs.

  1. Video intercoms – residents can see who they are letting in the building for an added layer of security.
  2. Access controls – door entrance technologies such as key fobs can provide identification, and notifications of suspicious activity.
  3. Procedures and protocols – camera and other security data is not useful unless reviewed and responded to. Consider designating and training a couple homeowners to review camera footage. Store footage somewhere secure such as a gate house or storage closet. Create a review schedule and actions to take, such as notifying management, based on what is found.
  4. Human response – Joshua believes the most basic and farthest-reaching security asset is people. Not only should you use people in your procedures and protocols, but have a human response plan for emergency situations. Define how and when to notify police and maintenance personnel. Look at cost-effective ways to get security officer response and reporting of issues, possibly using on-site personnel or roving vehicle patrols. You can implement a system of direct notifications in real time or through an online reporting system.

For important things to consider when making your condominium security system purchase, check out our article Choose the Right HOA Security System for Your Community.