Vacation Reminders for Home Owners, Renters and Property Management Companies
Holiday lights should be unplugged while away. Christmas trees that quickly dehydrate and become that standing mass of dry pine needles could also become fuel for a fire. Remind your tenants they can compost the tree before Christmas vacation.
Personally, I unplug all unnecessary electronics while away. It also saves energy and gives you one less thing to worry about at home. Kitchen appliances, that foot heater in your bed, tooth brush charger, random power cables for devices etc.
We are expecting the week of Christmas to have high temps in the 40’s and lows below freezing. Remind tenants that turning off the heat before vacation is NOT a good idea. When the water freezes in the plumping, it breaks it. Flooding and water damage become apparent when they thaw – which could be as soon as the heat comes on again!
A couple of years ago I was showing a condo at Habitat (Gunbarrel). My buyer and I walked in and instantly noted that the place was freezing. Colder than outside! The tenants were away for the holidays and the thermostat read “off”. On the coffee table, the remains of an old cup of tea sat solid in a mug, the bag still suspended. I checked the bathrooms… The water in the bottom of the toilet was also frozen solid.
The place had been cold a while. There was no telling how much damage was being concealed at that time, but I knew from experience (I lived in an old house in Massachusetts for 3 years) that someone needed to get in and turn off the water before the thawing began.
I immediately called the listing agent and let her know. She was horrified and I’m pretty sure the rest of the day involved coordinated efforts with the owner/property manager.
Oh, and the condo was not first floor, so the downstairs residents have have gotten some bad news when they got home too!
Which brings me to…
If your property is vacant – between leases or not rented while it undergoes remodeling, you need to let your insurance provider know. You may require a separate rider to cover vacant property and the time to find that out, is not when you make a claim. Owners and tenants should have the appropriate insurance policies in place to protect the property and personal belongings too.
If you employ a property management service, they might run more regular checks on the vacant property too.
The City of Boulder requires residents to shovel their walks within 24 hours of snow stopping. If this is not included with your HOA you need to make sure that your tenants or yourself have made arrangements for shoveling while they are away. Failure to do so could result in a warning or fine from the City, but worse, it might cause a neighbor or your mail carrier to slip and fall, resulting in injury. Snow removal responsibility should be in the lease – fines will go to the owner though. Ask your property manager if you are in doubt.
It is not uncommon to leave for a few days and for cats, rodents, birds or even dogs to be home alone. Please remember that winter has its own challenges for animals. Be sure to leave plenty of water and food. The heat should be at a comfortable level for them and there needs to be a plan B in the event that we have a power cut and this disrupts heat. Please consider having a friend or professional pet minder at least look in on your animals daily and be vigilant about fire safety. Expect the unexpected… The cat that climbs the Christmas tree or the rat that chews threw an electrical cable. Dog doors that ice up in a storm, locking the dog/cat in or out is a disaster! Does you dog have separation anxiety or go nuts in thunderstorms? What precautions have you taken to stop them harming themselves or your home? (As a tenant, your security deposit is on the line… but so is a good reference for you and pet!)
On another note: Has anyone had experience with a pet cam? I’d love to hear your feedback.