While most of us make do with just the one home, some are lucky enough to be able to escape less-than-favorable weather for second (or even third) homes in greener pastures. But while these fortunate folks winter in, say, the Florida Keys, their condo or co-op association in the Northeast must still conduct its daily business, with or without them being on-site.
Because association life goes on, it’s crucial for a board to establish a dynamic with seasonal residents that allows the former to maintain a functional community without denying input or withholding information from the latter. It’s also essential to have an emergency plan that accounts for empty units, lest a malfunction in one temporarily unoccupied apartment cause serious problems throughout an entire property.
How an association navigates this depends on its individual needs, and can vary by region and circumstance. But every board should take the potential absence of certain residents for prolonged stretches of time into account when considering things like annual meetings, votes, and emergency evacuation plans.
In order to ensure that their building or association runs smoothly in the absence of some residents, a board can start by gauging who plans to be gone when, for how long, and at where they can be contacted while away.
“It is extremely important to keep tabs on who is coming and going, for many reasons,” advises Keith Hales, President of Hales Property Management in Chicago. “From a practical standpoint, winters can certainly get quite cold, sometimes well below freezing. In Chicago, we’ve found that many southerners who own condos here aren’t accustomed to this type of weather, and might forget to keep their heat on when they’re out of town, because they’re used to shutting everything down whenever they leave. Despite our many reminder announcements to keep thermostats at 55 degrees or above, some residents fail to heed the warning – and that can cause pipes to freeze or burst, often at what seems like the worst possible time.”