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SECURITY CAMERAS IN THE POOL AREA

Q. 
Our condominium association in Simi Valley is experiencing a great deal of unlawful activity around our pool area. Can we safely install security cameras in the pool area in order to discourage this type of activity?

A. 
Your association can and should install security cameras in the pool area if illegal activity is taking place. However, it is important that the cameras be installed in such a way as to avoid invading the reasonable expectation of privacy of people using the pool.

I recommend that you consult with an attorney before purchasing and installing any cameras in the pool area. Top


DUMMY CAMERAS

Q. 
The board of directors of our condominium association in Thousand Oaks is considering the installation of dummy cameras in our parking garage and entry areas to deter crime. I have been told this may not be a good idea. What is your opinion?

A. 
Dummy cameras are never a good idea because they create potential liability for the association. When owners, renters and visitors see dummy cameras, they often believe the premises are being monitored and therefore, they are reasonably safe. If a serious crime takes place, you can be certain the association will be named as a defendant. It is far better for the association to spend its money on real cameras to deter crime.

Check with an experienced insurance broker to determine if your association can qualify for a discount on its premiums if it installs real security cameras. Top


GUARDS AS EMPLOYEES

Q. 
Our homeowner association in Van Nuys is spending a great deal of money on several security guards at our condominium association. We are considering hiring our own guard employees who will be required to obtain guard cards. The board is split. Some board members are agreeable to paying more to a guard company even though it is more expensive. What is your opinion?

A. 
Do not hire your own guards. Hire a professional security firm that trains and supervises its guard employees. You will greatly reduce your association's potential liability. The money you will save is not worth the increased risk. If there is a serious incident at the property resulting in a lawsuit, you want the benefit of the guard company's insurance and expertise in training and supervising guards. Top


SECURITY SIGNS

Q. 
In order to provide better security, our board recently installed security cameras in the common area. Are we required to post signs informing members and visitors that we have surveillance cameras?

A. 
No. If the cameras are limited to common areas where there is no expectation of privacy, posting signs is not required. If the cameras are in the pool area, signs should be posted because of the greater expectation of privacy.

Notwithstanding, I believe posting such signs is a good idea because these types of signs act as an added deterent. Top


NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH

Q. 
Our condominium association in Westchester is experiencing a high level of vandalism and other criminal activity. In your experience, does a neighborhood watch program help?

A. 
An active neighborhood watch program can be an excellent deterrent to crime. Your association's management company should be able to assist you in establishing one for your community or you can get information on the internet. Most neighborhood watch groups will suggest the use of surveillance cameras and burglar alarms to maximize the safety of your members and their property.Top


ELECTING A CONVICTED FELON

Q. 
A convicted felon was recently elected to our board and made treasurer. The board believes he has paid his debt and has learned a lesson. They claim he is now a model citizen. Many owners are very concerned. What are your thoughts?

A. 
It is not illegal to elect a convicted felon to the board of an association and it is not illegal to make the person treasurer. Notwithstanding, the fact should be disclosed in writing to your association's directors and officers liability insurance carrier to determine whether they will cancel or not renew the policy if the individual continues to serve. In addition, if you have coverage for dishonest acts, you may run into the same problem. I believe it is a matter of poor judgment to elect this individual to the board and then make him the treasurer.  Top


FUNDS FOR NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH

Q. 
he board of directors of our association would like to start a Neighborhood Watch group for our community. Is it appropriate for the board to spend association funds on modest refreshments to be served at neighborhood watch meetings and activities?

A. 
Yes, as long as the expenditures are reasonable. I suggest that your association create a line item in your annual budget for neighborhood watch expenditures. There are many good neighborhood watch websites on the internet that you may want to view for ideas on how to make your group successful.  Top







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