It's a classic, long understood joke... When the weather gets cooler many northern residents "fly south" for the winter. Some people call them Snowbirds, which is a term colloquially used to refer to those who spend the chilly months in temperate climates like those of California or Florida. The impact of these travelling residents can be difficult to measure but we know that they can cause complications for some HOA or COA communities so it's important to be prepared in the event that your community experiences a "Snowbird Season."
The Trouble with Snowbirds...
There are lots of reasons people may elect to relocate for the winter but regardless of why they're temporarily relocating, they usually have some of the same impacts on the community association's they leave behind. Condos, townhomes, and other living spaces where units share common walls present some unique risks; but vacant single-family homes can still lead to problems in the community. Many communities communicate via mail, which can be problematic if a forwarding address wasn't included, this can affect everything from assessments being paid on-time to HOA votes that are unanswered.
There is also the issue of renting, many community associations have a very strict policy for renters, how many they will allow, the length of the lease and who is acceptable as a tenant. If your travelling owners aren't aware of these restrictions, it could lead to some issues as many choose to rent their unused home in the interim. Making sure that your communities governing documents address all of these concerns can make it easier to enforce and helps owners understand their responsibility.
Helping Snowbirds Prepare For Their Time Away
If you want to help ensure your resident snowbirds have somewhere safe to land when they come home, your board can take a few steps to promote safety. One suggestion is to provide a checklist of items that owners can use to ensure they have given all of the important items a thought and have made the proper preparations. Depending on what your community looks like, your list could be different from others, but making sure your board has reviewed it and use your community management team to help review the document for any thing that you may have forgotten to list.
Having online services, like the CiraNet Owner/Resident Portal, can be crucial for those leaving their home for a few months as it provides real-time access to important community information and allows owners to pay dues, make arrangements and even see neighborhood updates all from an internet connected device.
Common Helpful Preventative Steps:
Address preventative maintenance before departing
A small amount of preventative maintenance can go a long way in keeping a vacant home safe. Addressing items like roof repairs, tree trimming and HVAC maintenance can ensure that when you arrive back home there aren't bigger issues to deal with.
Prevent & Deter Pests
Pest can be a major issue in your home while vacant. It's important to do the minor tasks of keeping all perishable food items stored safely, close your fireplace, and ensure your linens are put away where small animals can't get to them. You may also want to enlist the services of a pest control company to help rid your home of unwanted critters prior to leaving.
Stopping, Starting or Changing Services
Our homes run on a lot of different services, from electricity to plumbing and even our television subscriptions can all be services that need to be adjusted for your time away from your primary residence. Some items you might be able to pause, others you may be able to switch to a new location but others may need to be stopped altogether. Here are some common services that you may need to evaluate:
- Newspaper or Magazine Delivery
- Electricity / Plumbing
- Mail Forwarding
- Medication Deliver (Pharmacy Change)
- Lawn Care
- Internet, Phone or Television Services
The security of your home while you are away is very important. Thieves can and often do target vacationers and travellers, so making sure that you've done what you can to prevent any break-ins is important. Letting your neighbors know that you are leaving, but don't post anywhere publicly like Facebook, can help keep your property safe. Ensuring that someone is able to move any packages delivered or have the mail rerouted during your time away is also important. You can even get timers on your lights and electronics in your home if you want to give more of an allusion that someone is home.
Your Community Association Should Know
We've discussed how many things need to be done and why the association may need to be aware of your plans but for everyone's peace of mind it's good to ensure that your board and management team are aware that you will not be present in the home. In the event of an emergency you want to ensure that the board is able to access your home/condo without any issues.
GrandManors: Luxury HOA and Condo Management Services
Are you looking for management help at your luxury HOA? We don't blame you-- snowbird season can pose some unique challenges that not every association is ready for. At GrandManors, we're here to help you ensure you're prepared to meet residents' needs. Reach out to us today to find out more about how your HOA could benefit from a supporting hand.