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Summertime: It’s the perfect season to hit the road, relax, spend time with family and friends or embark on a new adventure. Although you hope that residents in your community have fun on their summer vacations, you also want to make sure that their homes stay safe and that they continue to fulfill their responsibilities to the association. Whether yours is a condominium, master-planned or single-family community, follow these tips to help your residents prepare their homes in a way that protects it and the community while they are away.  
1.  Educate residents about how to avoid the telltale signs of a vacant home
Your residents don’t want to come back to a burglarized home, and you don’t want a community that seems like an easy target. Make sure that everyone in the community knows how to avoid common vacation mistakes that make a home look empty and inviting to thieves. For example, they should:
  • Prevent mail and newspapers from piling up by stopping delivery.
  • Avoid social media posts that broadcast their absence.
  • Load up the car inside the garage, never in plain sight.
  • Set lights and televisions on timers.
  • Have someone care for their pets at home rather than boarding them. Not only is it less stress on the animals, but it also guarantees that there is activity in their home while they are gone.   
2.  Make sure residents keep their property maintained
Unmowed lawns and dying flowers are additional indications that a home is empty, plus unkempt yards are an eyesore. Summer is a busy season for home buyers, and tall grass and shaggy bushes don’t make a great first impression for prospective new neighbors. Residents with pools should either close them down if they are leaving for more than a few days or continue to have them serviced over their vacation.
3. Suggest potential energy savings
Vacations are the perfect time for residents to save money on their energy bills. Timers and programmable devices can help them maintain their property and discourage burglaries, all while reducing their energy usage. Setting the air conditioning at a higher temperature like 77 degrees instead of 68 will reduce electrical costs, too, but still allow the compressor to kick on occasionally. This makes it appear that someone is home and prevents mold and mildew. Reducing sprinkler frequency and duration can also reduce costs while keeping grass from growing too quickly.
Residents who live in condominiums or townhomes should also turn off hot water heaters while they’re gone. In addition to saving money, this can prevent disastrous issues, such as a malfunction or leak, which could also affect adjoining units. Water leaks are one of the most common problems that vacationing residents face upon returning home.
4.  Remind residents to keep summer weather in mind
In Texas, summer vacations and extreme weather sometimes coincide. What are the community’s policies regarding vacationing residents? How are homeowners expected to protect their homes in the event of a flash flood, hail storm, power outage or other weather-related issue when they are away? Do they need to have someone on standby to check their home for damage? Do they need to notify management before leaving town for more than a week? Whatever your community’s policies may be, explain them clearly and regularly.
5.  Encourage residents to rely on each other
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 where people look 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 to enjoy the summer months. Your professional community management company will have the resources to help your board craft the right policies to navigate summer vacation time and to get the word out to all your residents.
Friday June 30, 2017