6 Tips to Help Your Residents Protect Your Community During Summer Vacation
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But while fun in the sun might be the first thing on everyone's list, it's just as important to think about the state of your community while people are away. Whether you are on the board of a high-rise, condo or master-planned community, it’s important to make sure your residents know how to prepare their homes for an extended time away. Share these simple tips with your residents to help ensure your community is safe and well maintained while your residents are off enjoying the summer sun.
1. Let your property manager know you're leaving.
Whether your community or building is self-managed or has a professional property management company, let the office know if you're going to be gone for more than a few days. If you have a private security company serving your home or community, let them know as well.
2. Don't make it obvious no one is home.
Nothing ruins a great trip like coming home to a burglarized property. Thankfully, there are several ways to discourage potential criminals who might be lurking near the neighborhood, watching for people to go out of town.
Try not to pack your car in open view. Use your garage if possible so fewer people see you loading suitcases into the car. If mail and newspapers come directly to your door, stop the deliveries temporarily - nothing says "no one's home" more clearly than a pile of newspapers. It's easy to ask both the U.S. and Canadian post offices to hold your mail.
Limit online shopping the last couple of weeks before you leave, unless you have an alternate delivery location like an Amazon Locker or someone who will pick packages up for you. Besides the risk of theft and burglary, packages can get damaged being left outside.
Be careful about broadcasting your travel plans on social media, regardless of your privacy settings. That’s a dead giveaway you are out of town. If a lot of your neighbors are going to be away at the same time, let your local police department know.
3. Keep energy costs down.
There are many ways to conserve energy while you are out of town, which will do wonders for your summer electric bill. You don’t want to leave your home completely dark, because that’s an obvious sign you are away. But you also don’t want lamps, TVs and other appliances running unnecessarily.
The solution? Smart tech! Smart lightbulbs, TVs and other appliances can be controlled from your smartphone. Smart devices allow you to stay in control from anywhere and to vary your "activity" to look more random. Bonus: smart doorbells alert you if anyone approaches your home and even let you see and talk to those people. If you don't have the time or inclination to set up smart devices, simple outlet timers can control your lights and TVs so they turn on and off at your regular times. Leave your blinds slightly open so that they are visible.
Keep your air conditioner on but set at a higher temperature (unless you are leaving pets at home). Your compressor will kick on when temperatures rise, which could be a sign someone is home. Also, consider turning off the circuit breaker or gas valve to your hot water heater, or simply turn it to a lower setting so it isn’t working when it doesn’t have to be, saving you money.
4. Continue landscaping and maintenance while away.
If you plan to be gone for more than a few days, make sure you arrange for your lawn to be maintained, your bushes and landscaping to be tended to and your pool cleaned. Overgrown grass and a dirty pool are signs you've been gone a while.
5. Bring pet care in-house
If your summer vacation travel doesn't include your pets, consider asking a friend or neighbor to pet sit in your home rather than boarding them in a kennel. It’s less stressful on your furry family members and creates the impression that the house is occupied. Your vet can likely recommend someone and some boarding facilities and doggy day cares now offer in-home services as well. Of course, online marketplaces like TaskRabbit, Care.com and Rover.com have directories of professional pet sitters who will come to your home.
6. Ask for help.
Having a friend that you can trust on your block or in your building goes a long way toward helping you relax while you are gone. Make sure you leave a key with this person and an emergency contact number in case you need to be reached. Have them check on your home now and again to make sure everything is in order.
If you leave before trash day, ask them to put out your trash and retrieve the cans, so it is not sitting outside.See if they will park a car in your driveway and retrieve mail or newspapers (if you haven’t suspended them) so it looks like there is regular activity at your home.
Be willing to return the favor when your neighbors are away, and bring them a gift or token of your appreciation for taking time out of their schedule to give you peace of mind. This way, you build a reliable trust network together, form a stronger friendship, and know that any time you have to leave town, you don’t have to worry about what’s going on around your home.
Following these simple tips can help you save money and energy, keep intruders away from your property, and bring you peace of mind while you’re enjoying your time away from home this summer vacation!