What are the security duties and responsibilities of homeowners associations in Arizona? Ensuring the safety of your residents and the premises is an important duty of any HOA, but it’s also important to define what, exactly, your responsibility is. You should also be aware of the potential legal ramifications associated with failing to meet your HOA security responsibility in Arizona.
HOA security liability in Arizona
HOAs have a responsibility to report suspected security risks to their members as part of their fiduciary duty. Foreseeable and/or reported problems are a source of liability. This is addressed in Martinez v. Woodmar IV Condominiums Homeowners Association, Inc. (1996), 930 P.2nd 485. This opinion decided whether you, an HOA, has a responsibility to your residents to protect them and their and visitors from harmful conditions they knew or should have known about. The answer is yes—if you, a homeowners association knew or should have known about a security risk, you have a duty to inform and fix the problem.
Clint Goodman of Goodman Holmgren Smith provides this insight: “The main takeaway is that a board of directors has a duty to protect all residents and guests visiting its property from foreseeable harm on the land it controls. For example, if a kid is dragged behind overgrown HOA trees and assaulted, which has happened before, that HOA is likely liable because it did not cut the trees.”
He continues, “People complain all the time about aggressive dogs running loose in the neighborhood, and sometimes a resident is attacked. The HOA is likely liable if they did nothing to stop the aggressive animal behavior. Similarly, when a tenant complains to the manager that the parking lights in the parking area are out, nothing is done about it and that tenant is then shot in the parking lot, the HOA may be liable.”
Your responsibilities as an HOA
We recommend having a security and safety inspection conducted. An on-site security inspection should be able to identify any particular risks or vulnerabilities in your community, including physical security (Are the doors and locks solid? Have the locks been regularly rekeyed as residents move in and out? Do windows close and lock completely?) as well as addressing more nebulous risks like good lighting, parking, mailbox risks and even how shrubbery can affect residents’ safety.
In addition to a security inspection, we encourage our HOA clients to enact a neighborhood watch program. Even small measures, such as ensuring that parking space numbers don’t match apartment numbers, can drastically increase the wellbeing of your housing community.
Homeowners associations can also increase neighbor and community engagement, which helps pinpoint any suspicious behavior well before any problems arise. Ultimately, whenever you can increase engagement, you can increase security.
Need help understanding HOA security responsibility in Arizona?
Staying abreast of all legal issues is part and parcel of your HOA board. Goodman Holmgren Smith can assist with all legal matters related to homeowners associations. Get in touch with us today to learn how our services can ease your HOA’s legal concerns and costs.