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Fly On Snowbird

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Snowbirds. Sara Hicks. MF Property Management. Winter vacation. Home insurance. Vacation planning.

Snowbirds! Do not fly the coop just yet

Firstly, are you hopping onto a plane, train, or automobile out of the country this year? If so, I am jealous! Perhaps you are visiting friends or family. Or maybe you are looking to escape Canada’s cold, blustery weather. That all sounds great but before you leave on a jet plane, I want to share a few reminders before you lock the door and kiss the winter goodbye.

Your vehicle(s)

Every condo has a different parking situation. Some vehicles are parked underground, some in an exterior lot, some are in driveways or garages. Others are in spots that you own and some are in a rental spot. I would advise you to be aware of the winter situation at the property where you live if you will be leaving a vehicle behind for extended periods of time. If you park in an exterior parking lot, there may be a chance that the parking lot will need to be scraped down since snow removal contractors do not plow too closely to parked cars. The condominium may require the vehicle to be relocated temporarily, so a contact should be left with the property manager so they can reach out if the car needs moved. It is not a bad idea for someone local to have access to your car anytime of year if you will be away, since sometimes maintenance work requires them to be moved.

Your home

Snowbirds. Sara Hicks. MF Property Management. Winter vacation. Home insurance. Water damage.

One of the great things about condos is being able to leave and feel comfort in knowing everything will be fine while you are away. While this is true for the most part, things can still happen. Water finds a way much too often, from a pinhole in a pipe, flooding laundry machines, overflowing toilets, or cracked aquariums (yes this has happened and indeed it was a mess). While you cannot do much about what another resident does (or does not do), it is best to make sure your unit has some safeguards in place. If something from your unit causes damage to another unit and/or common elements, there is a chance you will be responsible for the fees incurred. What can be done to prevent this?

Your mail/deliveries

If you will be away for an extended period, it is not a bad idea to have someone come by to collect your mail or any packages if you will not be putting a temporary hold on mail. You will then know your mail is being safely set aside for your return, it will look tidy and a mail-pile up will not attract any shady persons checking for vacancies. Unattended mail may also concern residents about your well-being if they do not know you are away, so it is best to have it looked after.

Insurance

Snowbirds. Sara Hicks. MF Property Management. Winter vacation. Home insurance.

Have you ever forgotten to let your bank know you will be travelling to prevent them from voiding your credit card? Or forgotten to change your cellphone plan so you do not pay a fortune in roaming costs? You will not want to forget to check your home insurance policy with regards to leaving for an extended time. Some policies are voided should an issue arise and no one was checking the space.

Speaking of someone checking…

I would highly recommend someone come by your home 1-2 times a week at least to sweep the space for anything that may be amiss. Hopefully all they find is a sad plant that needs watering, but you never know what may crop up while you are gone. They should look at the ceiling for any possible water damage and ensure no fixtures in the kitchen, laundry or bathroom are dripping or leaking. If there is a basement, it should also be checked for any water entry via the foundation, equipment, pipes, etc. If they notice something, they should know who to report it to if you are not immediately available. Getting a house sitter could be even better, if they do not forget to close the shower curtain when they shower (a significant amount of water on the floor can seep below), turn pots off on the stove (a common fire hazard), do not leave candles unattended (another common cause for fire), etc.

Don’t go just yet! There are a few more things that may be helpful for you.

Snowbirds. Sara Hicks. MF Property Management. Winter vacation. Home insurance.
  • Make sure there is no garbage left in your unit, and if you use garbage carts, ensure they are where they are permitted to be stored before going.
  • Check when your condo’s Annual General Meeting is being held. If it is when you will be away, you should be able to participate in some capacity. Find out in advance how to do that. You may be able to fill in a proxy depending on the timing or perhaps even attend virtually if it is being held in that format. Just make sure not to brag about the beach too much or else you may be muted.
  • Residents often lower heat when they are not home, but do not shut it off completely-that can lead to issues as you can imagine!
  • If your home does not have hardwired smoke detectors, make sure the smoke detector has operational batteries.

Due to condominiums coming in such a variety of building types, I attempted to keep this list as general as possible. Please do your research on what is required to prep your home for a short-term vacancy to reduce the likelihood of coming home to something that makes you want to leave for another vacation immediately!

Sarah Hicks, MF Property Management

Sara Hicks, B.A.,(H.), OLCM, RCM, LCCI
Vice President, Owner, MF Property Management

www.mfproperty.ca

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