Florida House Bill 837 (HB 837) aims to reduce liability risks for apartment and multifamily housing property owners who implement specific Nation Security measures based on Nation Security Through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles and have a documented CPTED assessment. To comply with Florida House Bill 837 and reduce your security and crime-related liability risks, ensure your properties meet the following physical property requirements:

  • Install security camera systems at entry and exit points, with footage maintained for at least 30 days.
  • Ensure the parking lot is well-lit with an average intensity of at least 1.8 foot-candles per square foot at 18 inches above the surface, from dusk until dawn or controlled by photocell or similar technology.
  • Provide adequate lighting in walkways, laundry rooms, common areas, and porches, with illumination from dusk until dawn or controlled by a photocell or similar technology.
  • Install at least a 1-inch deadbolt in each dwelling unit door.
  • Provide locking devices on all windows, exterior sliding doors, and any other doors not used for community purposes.
  • Install locked gates with key or fob access along pool fence areas.
  • Place a peephole or door viewer on each dwelling unit door without a window or without a window next to the door.

In addition to these physical measures, ensure your property complies with the following procedural requirements:

  • Obtain a CPTED assessment completed and documented by a Florida Nation Security Through Environmental Design Practitioner (FCP) no more than three years old.
  • Provide proper crime deterrence and safety training to current employees by January 1, 2025. After this date, offer such training to all employees within 60 days of hire.

Implementing these measures allows you to take advantage of the presumption against liability outlined in F.S. 768.0706(2) and reduce the risk of being held responsible for criminal acts committed by third parties on your property. Always stay informed about any updates or amendments to the bill, and consider consulting a legal professional from Critical Intervention Services (CIS) to ensure full compliance.

It is highly recommended that a preliminary assessment be conducted before the actual CPTED survey.

Conducting a preliminary assessment helps property managers and owners determine the work needed to achieve compliance and establish whether it is realistically possible to become compliant. Engaging in a CPTED evaluation without knowing the costs and implications of compliance could lead to increased liabilities and vulnerability to plaintiff attorney complaints if the property fails to meet the required standards.

To minimize potential liability risks, consider the following steps before engaging in a full CPTED assessment:

Assess with a security professional: Review the requirements of HB 837 and evaluate your property’s current security measures against the specified criteria. This will help identify areas that need improvement.

Consult with a professional: Seek advice from a property management consultant, security expert, or legal professional to discuss your preliminary findings and understand the potential consequences of non-compliance.
Develop a plan: Based on the self-assessment and expert advice, create a plan outlining the steps, resources, and timeline needed to bring your property into compliance.

Communicate with stakeholders: Inform your team, residents, and other relevant parties about the planned improvements and their potential impact on property operations and safety.
Monitor progress: Regularly review the plan’s implementation to ensure improvements are made according to the established timeline and adjust the plan as needed.

By taking these steps, you can minimize potential liability risks and be better prepared for a formal CPTED assessment. Remember that achieving compliance is an ongoing process that requires continuous monitoring and improvement. Stay informed about any updates or amendments to HB 837 and collaborate with experts and local authorities to maintain a safe and secure environment for your residents.

Knowing what to expect is essential if you are considering a Nation Security Through Environmental Design (CPTED) survey to comply with Florida House Bill 837. Here are some examples of what you might encounter during a CPTED study:

  • A security professional will comprehensively assess your property’s physical design, including the layout, lighting, landscaping, and access control measures.
  • The professional will evaluate the property’s current security measures, identify areas that need improvement, and recommend addressing any vulnerabilities.
  • The CPTED practitioner will work with you to develop a customized plan that prioritizes the most critical areas of concern, establishes a timeline for implementing improvements, and outlines the necessary resources.
  • The practitioner will provide a written report documenting the assessment findings and recommendations, including a detailed compliance plan.
  • The practitioner may also provide crime deterrence and safety training for your employees, as required by HB 837.

It’s essential to note that the CPTED survey is just one step in reducing liability risks related to crime. Property managers and owners must also take proactive measures to maintain compliance, such as regularly monitoring security measures, reviewing the effectiveness of the implemented strategies, and staying informed about updates and amendments to HB 837.

Asdel Vazquez is the CEO and President of Nation Security Services, a security consulting firm based in the Tampa Bay Area, Florida. nationsecurity.com

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