Safety Concerns in Community Common Areas

A community association is an engaging mix of personal living and socializing. A resident might own their own house or condominium. Still, they might have access to perks like clubhouses, pools and recreational facilities.

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If you own or manage a community association, you know residents have expectations. The association’s role is to serve residents in an efficient way. That means taking care of the association’s shared property. Community associations, therefore, need to carry insurance for potential hazards. These might include property and liability risks.

The Risks in a Community

It is usually the support of the residents that keeps the association functioning. However, the community also has an obligation towards its residents. Should association property sustain damage, the association may face financial hardship regarding repairs. This could impact the community’s standard of living.

The community also usually has a responsibility for resident safety in common areas. Liability insurance can help the association if its actions cause harm to others. Should property damage or injury occur, the association may bear a liability.

Insuring these Risks

An effective way to reduce risks in your community is with comprehensive insurance. You often need protection for association property, as well as liability risks.

Insuring association property is sometimes a complicated process. At times, associations can only carry insurance property that they legally own. They usually carry coverage on common buildings and dwellings owned by the association. Associations may decide to provide blanket coverage for homes owned by individual residents. However, resident-owned property likely needs its own, separate insurance.

Furthermore, associations often need to carry liability protection for common areas. There’s always the chance that residents or other parties could get hurt or see their property damaged in those areas.

Keeping Your Property Safe and Secure

Each common area in your association could sustain damage. Various hazards might impact the association. These might include fires, vandalism, theft or even weather. They could also pose risks to individual clients.

Think about the various property over which a community association has jurisdiction. Once you become familiar with your own property risks, think of ways you can improve them. Below are some of the common areas that associations may need to secure:

Community Offices and Club Houses

An office or club might contain sensitive data for the community and residents. Damage risks might endanger the business’ privacy and security.

  • Keep all sensitive office materials under lock and key. Do not release sensitive information to anyone but authorized parties.
  • Consider investing in various security mechanisms like burglar alarms and anti-theft lights.
  • Manage community data networks with care. Provide secure, password-protected access points for residents to view community information. Use virus, malware, cyber identity theft and other protective measures on community computers.
  • Monitor access to the facility at all times. Some community associations even require key-card access from residents and their guests.
  • If this part of the establishment contains gathering areas, abide by all occupancy and sanitation rules to keep residents safe.
  • Perform regular maintenance throughout the clubhouse. Pay attention to utility and electrical use. Ensure residents understand how to safely operate common-use items in the area.

Food Preparation Areas

Community food prep areas may run the risk of harm to the property itself and to resident users. Risks in this area might include injury, burn and fire risks. Food service facilities may include kitchens, dining rooms, bars and even outdoor grilling areas.

  • Monitor and maintain all appliances in the area. Repair, service and replace these items as necessary.
  • Keep a record of who plans to book and use this area. This can help you control access to sensitive equipment.
  • Provide instructions for residents to follow when using appliances. This can ensure proper operations.
  • Keep fire suppressant systems on hand at all times. Always monitor open flames and electrical conductors in the kitchen area.
  • Maintains any permits to legally serve food or operate the facility. If you plan on serving liquor in your establishments, maintain liquor licensing.

Recreational Areas

The community might offer a diversity of recreational areas. These might include pools, playgrounds, dog parks, tennis courts, gyms and other assets.

  • Ensure that residents understand the risks of using these facilities. Require residents to sign permission waivers, as needed, to use the area. Post rules around the facility for safe use, as needed.
  • Provide safety equipment as needed. For example, add life preservers around pools. Your state may require you to provide certain protective measures in recreational areas.
  • Monitor access to recreational areas by any unauthorized parties.

It is a very good idea to maintain a comprehensive manual on association procedures. This can help outline emergency and safety procedures throughout the community. If you protect the property, the better your chances of avoiding property damage or liability risks. Talk to your insurance agent about how to structure your property coverage to protect both physical property and liability risks.