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.
Denise Becker, Senior Vice President of Homestead Management Services in Hillsborough, New Jersey, urges boards to have travelers’ forwarding addresses handy. “The association keeps working, even when folks are away,” Becker says. “Many times, important correspondence, such as the annual budget, special assessment notices, Department of Community Affairs inspections, and maintenance projects – power washing or painting, for example – are sent via mail. When a unit owner does not forward their mail or have someone collect it for them, they can fail to make a proper payment, or to give access to the unit in the event of an inspection or a maintenance issue. Coming back to a pile of mail and then requesting that late fees be waived, or wondering why a screen is ripped can be too little too late for the board. And a failure to allow DCA inspectors access to a unit might result in a fine to the owner.”