Things to consider before the Snowbirds Fly South
We hate to say it, but it’s that time of year again to prepare for plummeting temperatures and to make plans for the winter ahead. Maybe you like to head down south for the winter and escape Canada’s snow. But what are some things you should be thinking about before you leave your home for the winter? Here are a few things to consider before escaping to warmer locations.
1. Safety and Security Concerns
a. Check your home insurance policy
What does your insurance policy require you to do when you are away for an extended period of time? Do you need to have someone check your home every few days? If so, make sure you have a family member, friend, or neighbour agree to do the required checks. If you’re not sure what your policy requires, call your insurer to check. Ask whoever is checking your home to pick up mail, newspapers, etc. as well so you don’t give away signs that your home is empty and unmonitored.
b. Check your condominium documents
Your condominium’s declaration may have rules that impact your decisions when you’re leaving for the winter as well. For example, are you required to keep your home at a certain minimum temperature to ensure your pipes don’t freeze, burst, and cause a building-wide flood?
If you’re considering renting out your home as a short-term rental while you’re away, does your condominium declaration and/or rules allow short-term rentals? If so, are there limits on how short (or long) you can rent your home out for?
c. Don’t turn off your heat!
Heating your home in the winter can be expensive, but so is flooding caused by a burst pipe. So don’t forget to continue to heat your home while you’re away. Even if your insurance policy and condominium documents don’t require regular checks, set this up anyway so you can have peace of mind while you’re away. Accidents happen, and if there’s a flood or any other emergency in your home, you want someone to catch it as soon as possible.
2. Virtual meetings
Does your corporation have a lot of owners who are Snowbirds? You may have found that this can restrict your options when holding board meetings and Annual General Meetings (AGMs). Luckily, virtual meetings and platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams has made location a problem of the past! There are also a few third-party companies that can be utilized to ensure flawless e-voting, guarantee quorum and assist with the technology side of virtual meetings for those who are not so tech savvy.
Holding AGMs virtually has several benefits. It can ensure quorum is met as owners can log in from anywhere or easily provide digital proxies. There is also flexibility in the timing of the meeting. Before virtual AGMs, a lot of corporations would rush to hold their AGM before unit owners departed for the winter. Now, it can be held anytime within the 6 months after the year end, which can reduce pressures on the auditor, property manager and the board.
Many guest speakers, such as lawyers, engineers and auditors are now charging additional fees for in person attendance. Virtual attendance is often cheaper or possibly included in their professional fees, as it is less time consuming for the guest.
While there is a lot of planning and preparation that goes on for travellers at this time of the year, it’s important to not forget about the condominium you are leaving behind. Ensuring that your unit is taken care of while you’re away can be a relief not only to you, but to your fellow neighbours as well!
Shalon Chapman, LCCL
Robson Carpenter LLP