Top 10 things to know before going on vacation during the winter when living in a condo

For those lucky enough to get away during the winter season, organizing your trip should include more than packing your suitcase. Living in a condominium (whether it is a high rise, low rise, or even townhouse complex), requires some diligence.

We have put together a list of ten things to assist you before you leave.

1.      Notify your PM

Provide your condominium property manager with a note advising when you will be leaving, the duration, and ensure they understand who you have authorized to speak on your behalf if a building event has taken place. Additionally, you will want to ensure that your condo fees are current and that the management company has a current pre-authorized payment plan in place, or a series of post-dated cheques.

2.     Notify your Insurance Broker

Many insurance policies have restrictions or limitations for coverage based on extended periods when someone will not be residing in a residence. By speaking with your broker, ensure you understand what you need to do in order to maintain full coverage during your vacation.

3.     Empty your fridge & freezer

Nothing worse than to come home from vacation, and you open your refrigerator only to find that there was a power outage, and all of your contents have spoiled. Worse if the smell ends up ruining your fridge. If you are going away for an extended period of time, parse down items to the bare essentials, empty your ice maker bucket and lift the arm to stop the fridge from making ice while you are away.

4.    Shut off your water

The single most likely event that will take place while you are away is a water event. These can happen at any time, and can affect not only your unit, but those around you. Shut off your main water valve at the meter or main shut off to your unit. If you are unfamiliar with its location, speak with your property manager.

5.     Postpone mail and newspaper delivery

From a security perspective, uncollected mail and newspapers is a sign to lurking thieves that there is no one home. Protect yourself and your neighbours but putting your mail and newspapers on hold. If the local mail service does not provide this option, enlist a friend or neighbour to pick up your mail on a regular basis.

6.     Alarm system

If you have an alarm system that is monitoring your home, contact your carrier to advise them that you are going away. They will have procedures in place to address whom to call if and when an event takes place. Nothing worse than to have an alarm go off, without an ability to have someone reset the system.

7.     Close all windows & doors

All too often, a slightly opened window or an exterior door that has not been properly locked, will allow the outside weather to enter your home. Protect yourself and double check that your windows and doors are closed and locked.

8.     Ensure all smoke detectors have fresh batteries

How often have you been disturbed by the chirping of a smoke detector or carbon monoxide detector that has a failed or failing battery? Be thoughtful of your neighbours by ensuring that your batteries have been recently replaced.

9.     Review any upcoming building events that may require access to your unit

Check with your building management office on any upcoming events that may affect your home. This could include inspections, shut down of services, etc., so that you can address any issues prior to you leaving.

10.   Have someone that you can designate as a point of contact

This is the most critical of all items. Having a designated, local person that can be your point of contact while you are away will protect you and your asset, if an event takes place, and the property manager needs to get in contact immediately. Typical examples are flood, fire, power or other types of building or complex emergencies.

By planning ahead, you can rest easier on your vacation, knowing that upon your return, the only thing you will need to do is unpack your suitcase and brave the rest of winter.