Snowbirds in Flight Seasonal Vacancies Require Community Attention

Birds in flight may be beautiful, but their departure sometimes leaves the nest unprotected. And when that nest is in a condominium or cooperative community, property managers and boards must do their best to compensate.

This region is full of snowbirds, individuals who fly away from the frigid and blustery New York winters and return in the spring. The typical snowbird assumes a southern migration happily departing even before the first flakes of snow appear. This flight pattern means prolonged absences from individual units, and this presents associations and managers with a different set of issues, ranging from governance to insurance coverage, to the consequences of unforeseen damage.

Vacancies Prevalent

According to Ellen Bonder Lohr, president of AKAM On-Site based in Boca Raton, Florida and with offices in New York City, “In general approximately 30 percent of our total managed units are vacant for extended periods throughout the year.”

Statistics show that those in the 55+ age group are more likely to travel during the winter, with residents splitting their time between the chilly Northeast and sunny climes. Planning for their absence is critical, she says.

“Typically, we prepare people in advance … to make sure certain things are accomplished,” Lohr says. “We request all personal contact information from each unit owner, updated on an annual basis, usually in May. We also request contact information [in writing] for anyone designated by the unit owner to be responsible for the unit in the owner’s absence.”

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