CPTED: A Crucial Piece, But Not the Sole Solution, in Building Safe Communities
Florida House Bill 837 (HB 837) aims to enhance the safety and reduce liability risks associated with apartment and multifamily housing. Although a great step
Florida House Bill 837 (HB 837) establishes protections against liability for apartment and multifamily housing property owners who implement specific crime prevention (CPTED) measures and have a documented CPTED assessment conducted by a law enforcement agency or Florida Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design Practitioner (FCP).
As described in the new F.S. 768.0706(2): “The owner or principal operator of a multifamily residential property which substantially implements the following security measures on that property has a presumption against liability in connection with criminal acts that occur on the premises which are committed by third parties who are not employees or agents of the owner or operator:”
Physical property requirements include:
Section 768.0706(2)(b) further requires the owner or principal operator of the multifamily residential property to have a crime prevention through environmental design assessment that is no more than 3 years old completed and documented by a law enforcement agency or Florida Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design Practitioner (FCP).
And by January 1, 2025, the owner or principal operator is required to provide proper crime deterrence and safety training to its current employees. After January 1, 2025, the owner or principal operator must provide such training to all employees within 60 days after hire.
To assist multifamily property owners in benefiting from HB 837 while avoiding inadvertent liability, we advise our clients to approach property assessment as a two-step process:
Before requesting a formal assessment by a law enforcement agency or Florida Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design Practitioner (FCP), we recommend first ensuring that the property meets all criteria as defined in Section 768.0706(2)(a). If the property does not satisfactorily meet the required conditions, documentation of non-compliance can inadvertently create a new liability problem.
Many of the requirements described in the statute (e.g., presence of peepholes, 1-inch deadbolt throws, etc.) can be assessed internally without outside expertise. Other issues, especially matters related to environmental conditions (e.g., natural surveillance, territoriality, etc.) and illumination requirements defined in HB 837, should be first evaluated in the form of an undocumented assessment by a Florida Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design Practitioner. In our experience conducting CPTED assessments of hundreds of multifamily properties, very few we inspect initially comply with all common CPTED standards and illumination requirements as defined by Section 768.0706(2)(a)(2).
If the preliminary assessment reveals matters of deficiency, our consultants can assist in conducting a cost-benefit analysis to determine if the capital investment to achieve compliance is worth the benefit of HB 837’s liability protections.
If results of the preliminary assessment are positive or the property owner has completed all corrective improvements, the process can advance to a documented assessment by a CIS Florida Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design Practitioner. During the assessment, our practitioner will conduct a systematic inspection of the property focusing on universal CPTED issues and specific conditions as defined in Section 768.0706(2).
Upon completion of the assessment, the CIS consultant will furnish a comprehensive report of findings including an itemized verification checklist testifying to compliance with all conditions as defined in Section 768.0706(2). At the discretion of the property owner and in consultation with legal counsel, the report is also accompanied by a separate document providing best practice guidance to aid in continued compliance with the assessment as stated in Section 768.0706(2)(b).
Hector Rodriguez, FCP, cATO
Hector is the Assistant Vice President of Special Projects and a security consultant focusing on matters related to school security, crime prevention for multifamily properties, security department operations, workplace violence, and protection of houses of worship. Hector has over 24 years of experience in security management and previously led one of the most advanced private security operations in the United States.
Shannon Bryson, FCP
Shannon is an expert on premises liability, crime prevention in residential multifamily housing, community policing, and special event security. As one of the architects of the CIS Private-Sector Led Public Safety Program, he directed the PSLPS program in Orlando for several years. Shannon joins CIS with over 25 years of experience as a federal agent and tactical instructor.
Mario de Graaf, FCP
Mario is a CIS security consultant specializing in crime prevention and premises liability management in multifamily housing and residential communities. Since joining the CIS team, Mario has assisted hundreds of residential multifamily communities in reducing crime and liability conditions. Prior to joining CIS, Mario was a security specialist for the Government of the Netherlands and responsible for the protection of Dutch diplomatic facilities around the world.
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