Community associations face a number of security and safety issues – from premises injuries to public security. Under respective state statutes and the association’s governing documents, an association has a duty to inspect common areas, investigate complaints and make repairs. To help clients meet their duties and prevent losses, it’s critical to underscore the importance of performing routine inspections and maintenance throughout the property.
Property inspections not only increase the wellbeing and safety of its residents, they also reduce the risk of lawsuits and costly repairs while protecting property values. Additionally, inspections enable the association’s board of directors to better understand the condition of the community and what can be improved.
General Inspection Guidelines
In creating a comprehensive approach for property inspections and maintenance, the following should be taken into consideration:
- The property manager should have a clear understanding of the community association bylaws, as they will likely stipulate any inspection requirements such as what needs to be inspected and how often. Also, the property manager should understand individual state statutes regarding property inspections, such as requirements for checking fire alarms and extinguishers and what fire codes must be met. It’s recommended that yearly inspections be performed on common area roofs, pools, HVAC systems, water heaters, the building exterior, and other major systems.
- Have a checklist in hand to ensure that, during the inspection, everything on the list is covered. The information on the checklist should be clearly and professionally written so that anyone can look at it and understand what was done during the inspection.
- The results of the inspection should be presented to the association’s board so that they can decide how best to proceed with repairs or renovations and budget accordingly.
- The association should keep documentation of each inspection in its records. It’s always a good idea to keep a permanent record in the event something goes wrong or the association is looking to revise its inspection process for next time.
Community Association Maintenance Safety Tips & Checklist
Depending on usage, traffic flow, and weather conditions, the following inspection and maintenance timelines are recommended:
- Roof: Have the property manager perform visual checks weekly for leaks or brown spots, particularly during the rainy season. Be sure a formal inspection is conducted any time tile is replaced.
- Building interior: Look for problems like worn flooring, damaged carpeting, damaged furniture, faulty equipment, and overall cleanliness in the common areas of the building.
- Lighting: Check and test all interior and exterior lighting systems, including floodlights, security lights, sign lighting, and street lamps.
- Building exterior: Check the building for peeling paint, damaged siding, broken windows, damaged trim, missing downspouts, rotten wood, concrete damage, and more.
- Building sidewalks: Inspect sidewalks annually or more often if they’re located near trees that may cause buckling and thus could present trip hazards.
- Pest control: Have a contractor perform this service monthly.
- Landscaping and snow removal: Inspect the grounds and ensure that all landscaping and snow removal services are being performed correctly.
- Storm drains: Ensure drains are cleared at least every two years, especially in flood-prone zones. Have the property manager inspect storm drain boxes every year and more often if they’re located near trees to make sure the roots haven’t damaged the boxes.
- Vehicle entry gates: Security guards or maintenance staff should inspect these weekly to ensure that belts and bolts on the gate arms are tight. Ideally, the association has a service contract that provides for monthly maintenance.
- Playground equipment. Inspect this at least once a month, if not more. Hire an expert annually for a formal inspection.
- Pool: Generally servicing should be performed no less than three times in the winter months in warm climates and at least four to five times in the summer, depending on the frequency of use.
- Gutters and downspouts: If there aren’t any trees nearby, have the gutters and downspouts checked a couple of times a year. If the building is near many trees, the gutters may have to be checked and cleaned once a month or more, especially in the autumn.
- Computers and security cameras: Update and clean these monthly for optimal efficiency, especially because they’re always in use.
In addition to performing regular inspections and maintenance throughout the property, the association board should ensure that it has secured the appropriate amount of General Liability and Umbrella insurance to protect against potential liability losses. Even with best practices in place, accidents and incidents occur. Distinguished Programs provides community associations with a package policy that includes General Liability and Property insurance. Additionally, we offer a high-limit Community Association Umbrella policy that will respond in the event of a catastrophic loss.