Take Five Steps to Rid Community of Graffiti

February 23, 2017
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Unfortunately, since the presidential election, there have been several incidences of graffiti in community associations that have been featured on the news. The messages refer to some of the politically charged campaign sentiments. Besides being unsightly, graffiti leads to other problems. It annoys members, diminishes curb appeal, lowers the quality of life at your community, and invites additional crime. But a community that’s clean, well maintained, and free of graffiti sends the message that the association enforces its rules. And that makes for a safer community.

If you’ve never had a problem with any kind of vandalism in the past, but find yourself faced with managing a community that experiences this kind of damage now, it’s important to take the following five steps to rid your community of graffiti.

Step #1: Make your community a less tempting target. As a first step, do everything you can to discourage anyone from scrawling graffiti at your community. There are three effective measures: (1) providing adequate security at your community, with regular patrols of the grounds and common areas; (2) installing motion-sensitive lights or sprinklers at graffiti-prone areas that turn on when motion is detected; and (3) planting shrubs and vines in front of walls to make these blank spaces less tempting to attention-seeking graffiti artists.

Step #2: Clean up graffiti within 24 hours. Despite your efforts at preventing graffiti, it still might happen. When it does, clean up the graffiti right away—within 24 hours if possible. The longer graffiti is left on a surface, the harder it is to remove—and the more it encourages further incidents and contributes to the problems described above.

Step #3: Prosecute offenders and discipline members who create graffiti. If you catch members, guests, or anyone else scrawling graffiti at your community, call the police. Follow through by prosecuting the offenders. If the offender is a member, take disciplinary action against him, such as imposing a fine. This will send the message that you won’t tolerate even one instance of graffiti at the community.

Step #4: Consider protecting surfaces with anti-graffiti treatments. There are treatments, paints, and coatings that can protect painted and unpainted surfaces, such as brick, concrete, stucco, wood marble, metal, and tile from permanent damage from graffiti. Once applied, these treatments impose a barrier between graffiti and the original surface, and make cleaning graffiti much easier—sometimes with hot water alone. These treatments are particularly effective for preventing permanent scratch marks on glass, plastic, or metal.

The cost of anti-graffiti treatments depends on whether you do it yourself or have a professional graffiti removal company perform the work, the type of surface to be treated, and how large an area you want to treat. The cost is often calculated on a per-square-foot basis.

Step #5: Participate in neighborhood watch. Ask your association’s attorney about whether it’s wise to join or form a neighborhood watch group with neighbors in your community to band together to combat graffiti and improve the quality of life in the area.