As the summer travel season approaches, people will often be traveling out of town to spend time with extended family or take a much-needed vacation. This could mean more empty homes than usual in your homeowner's association. There are precautions that your HOA board can encourage members to take to provide that homes are not enticing to thieves, susceptible to fire, and the Association's crime rate be kept at a minimum.
Having a home vandalized or burnt to the ground is a highly unpleasant way to return from a trip, but it also puts the rest of the Association at risk, as these problems have the potential to spread quickly throughout the neighborhood. So, before your community members take off, here are some safety tips to provide to your Association to keep your community secure.
1. Call on friends for help
If an owner is going to be away for a week or more, encourage them to ask a trusted friend to check on their house every day or two—or better yet, house sit while they’re gone. Another smart idea might be to let neighbors know if someone is taking care of the vacant property, so the police are not called for a perceived “break-in.”
2. Set lights on a timer
Leaving a home unlit for days on end is a sure sign to burglars that it’s empty, but so is keeping the lights on 24/7. A good way to handle the lights on/off conundrum is to set them on a timer that is scheduled to simulate a regular routine.
3. Stop your mail and newspaper
If nobody will be responsible for bringing in the newspaper and mail at a home, it’s best to have the mail and paper temporarily stopped during the time away. Nothing screams “nobody’s home!” like a pile of newspapers strewn about a doorstep or an overflowing mailbox.
4. Don’t leave the spare house key lying around
That fake rock where the extra house key is kept is not as discrete as one might think. So have the owner take the spare key with them, let a friend hold onto it, or put it in a safe place inside the home. When it comes down to it, calling a locksmith is less traumatic than calling the police.
5. Make a last-minute checklist
Are all the windows and doors locked? Stove and oven turned off? How about all the faucets? Are the electronics unplugged and valuables secured? Reviewing a checklist before departing to ensure the home is vacation-ready may seem unnecessary, but knowing the home is left as safe as possible will help owners be able to relax during their time away.
It’s never a bad idea to remind your homeowner's association members to be vigilant in protecting their property, along with the Association's property. Crime within a community is very upsetting and a violation of all that live there. Passing along these tips to the owners in your community will help put their minds at ease as they prepare to say "Bon Voyage!”