Keep Your Community Safe During Summer Vacations

Summer time – the perfect season to hit the road, relax, spend time with family and friends, or embark on a new adventure. While you hope your residents have fun on their summer vacations, you also want to make sure that their homes stay safe and they fulfill their responsibilities to the association while away. Whether you live in a condominium, master-planned or single-family community, you want to make sure that your residents prepare their homes in a way that helps protect themselves and the community.  
 
1.  Educate your community about the telltale signs of vacant homes. 
Your residents don’t want to come home to a burglarized property, and you don’t want a community that appears vulnerable. Make sure that your residents know how to avoid common vacation mistakes that make their homes look empty and inviting to thieves. For example:
  • Stop mail and newspaper deliveries so there’s no pile up.
  • Be careful about social media posts that broadcast your absence.
  • Don’t pack the car in plain sight of your home - use your garage.
  • Set lights and televisions on a timer.
  • Have pets cared for at home rather than boarding them. It’s less stress on them and guarantees that there is activity in homes while they are gone.   
2.  Make sure they know to keep the property maintained. 
Residents should continue to maintain curb appeal even if they are away from home for an extended time. Not only are un-mowed grass and dying flower beds additional indications that the home is empty, unkempt yards are an eyesore. Summer is a busy season for home buyers, and tall grass and shaggy bushes aren’t a great first impression for potential new neighbors. Residents should also make sure that their pools are properly maintained. Either close them before leaving for more than a few days, or have them serviced over your vacation.
 
3.  Save on energy where possible.
Vacations are the perfect time for residents to save money on their energy bills. Timers and programmable devices can help homeowners maintain their property and bolster against burglary, all while reducing energy usage. Setting the air conditioning at a higher temperature like 77 degrees instead of 68 will reduce electrical costs, but still cause the compressor to kick on occasionally, making it appear that someone is home as well as prevent mold and mildew. Reducing sprinkler frequency and duration can also save on costs, while keeping grass from growing too quickly.
 
Residents who live in condominiums or townhomes should also turn off hot water heaters while gone. In addition to saving money, turning off the water heater could avoid tremendous issues, such as a malfunction or leak which could also affect adjoining units. Water leaks are one of the most common problems experienced by vacationing residents.
 
4.  Keep summer weather in mind. 
In Texas, summer vacation time and extreme weather sometimes coincides. What are vacationing homeowners required to do in the event of a flash flood, hail storm, power outage, or other weather-related issue? Do they need to have someone on standby to check homes for damage? Do they need to notify management before leaving town for more than a week? Whatever policies your community decides on, communicate them clearly and well in advance.
 
5.  Rely on your community. 
Throughout the year, work on building camaraderie in your community. Plan events that give residents the opportunity to get to know and trust their neighbors. Knowing that there’s someone a few doors down who can grab the newspaper or call if there’s a problem goes a long way toward helping residents relax while they travel. It makes your entire community more secure as well. Would-be burglars are less likely to target homes within a community of people who are looking out for each other.
 
Above all, communicate with your homeowners. Making sure that everyone is on the same page and knows how to prepare for extended absences will help the entire community enjoy the summer months. Your professional property management company will have the resources to help your Board craft the right policies to navigate summer vacation time and communicate them to your residents. To learn more, contact FirstService Residential

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