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3 Access Control Considerations for HOAs

Potential homebuyers or condominium owners consider a wide range of community characteristics, such as local walkability and amenities, before deciding where to live. Security is also a key concern for many. These residents will want to live in a community with an HOA that takes security seriously and works to minimize issues like unauthorized access that leads to package theft and vandalism.

Access control systems help you manage ingress to the community and its amenities — like gyms, pools, and rec rooms. Choosing the best system requires careful thought for each building. These three considerations are important for HOAs that want to get the most out of their security budget and keep their multifamily communities safe.

1. HOA Budget Allocation

Before you begin shopping for an access control solution, you’ll need to start with your security budget. 

A key responsibility of almost all HOA boards is to set the annual budget for operation and maintenance. Board members need to familiarize themselves with the expenses involved in running the community. This will help them make responsible and informed decisions on budget matters.

HOAs don’t have access to unlimited funds. Board members must be aware of the different payment models for access control, as well as potential upfront costs, to make informed decisions.

Security Assessment Process

First, you’ll need to address the security assessment process. Communities have different access control needs. A security assessment is the best way to know what the board should consider when searching for a system.

Budgeting an estimate of potential security assessment costs can help you build a better picture of how much the HOA can spend on access control. You’ll need to plan for the cost of the system itself. 

Access Control Payment Models

There are two types of access control payment models: subscription-based and local access control.

Subscription-Based Access Control Systems

With a subscription-based system, access control is run from a cloud-managed system. It can be accessed and controlled from anywhere, so long as the end-user has an internet connection.

Subscription-based services typically have lower upfront costs and bill monthly based on the total number of system users. Fees are often around $2 per month per user. 

Installation and deployment turnover of a subscription-based service is typically fast, enabling you to quickly go from investment to a functional control system.

Subscription security systems were less common in the past, but they’re slowly becoming a standard offering. If you can identify an access control system that will work for your community, there’s a good chance the developer offers a subscription model.

Local Access Control Systems

You can also buy a locally hosted access control system outright. However, this will typically require a larger upfront capital investment, as you’ll be purchasing hardware and software rather than leasing it.

Installation and on-site software setup can also be more time-consuming than the installation of a subscription-based system. However, you won’t have to worry as much about recurring access control service costs.

2. Efficient Security Functionality

Once you know how much you’ll be able to spend on your access control system, you’ll need to consider core features and functionality.

Access Control Reliability

One of the most important features is reliability. A reliable security system can reflect well on the HOA board. An effective and trustworthy access control system often makes occupants feel safer. They’ll have a sense of security knowing their community’s access control solution — whether it’s a keycard or security PIN — will be able to reliably get them into their residence. 

They’ll also know that the community’s security gate, amenity doors, or entry points will manage unauthorized access, helping to keep everyone safe. Efficient functionality also increases occupant satisfaction and can potentially improve retention.

Responding To Security Concerns

Access control reliability also allows HOA boards to be responsive in addressing physical security issues and concerns. An access control system that sends data about security events gives the HOA board and security staff heads-up about potential security issues.

Enforcing HOA Rules

Failure to enforce HOA rules is a common concern for many residents. If your access control system is regularly offline or doesn’t help you respond quickly to security issues, it might  appear like you’re failing to enforce security rules. 

By contrast, a reliable security system enables you to take quick action against violations like unauthorized community access, littering and vandalism. Moving quickly to resolve these issues may help residents feel more secure.

A good access control system can also offer extra convenience for residents. Amenities access with a key fob has its drawbacks but is often more convenient than using physical keys.

3. Maintaining Accountability

After taking into consideration budget and functionality, HOAs should determine how they would like to use the system to better maintain and secure their communities.

Amenity Access

An effective security system will also help board members manage amenity access and audit their use. The right security system allows HOA boards to automatically limit access as needed. 

For example, one HOA may restrict access to amenities in the event of fee nonpayment. Residents who are significantly late with their condo or community fees may have access to community areas — like a pool or gym — temporarily deactivated until payment is received.

Auditing Amenity Use

Some security systems also create records of resident entry and exit. This will give your HOA board greater capacity for audit trailing, tracking history and keeping an eye on general amenity activity. 

This data can help you track violations of community policy and build a better understanding of how and when amenities are used. 

Amenity usage information could help your board determine the best time of day or week to close something for cleaning. Similarly, data on main gate entry and exit history could help you plan events or predict when community traffic will be heaviest.

Key Considerations for HOAs Investing in Access Control

Potential home and condominium owners often want a community that invests in its own safety. An access control system is one of the best ways for an HOA to build security measures and gain residents’ trust.

These measures may help the board respond more quickly to safety issues, better manage amenity access, and learn more about how residents use the property and access points. They will make the community a safer place to live, and that’s something everyone can appreciate.

About the Author

Devin Partida is a security writer covering topics related to both physical and cyber security.

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