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 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 Jersey 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, he 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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