Now that winter has settled in, many communities across Chicagoland are seeing the temporary departure of some of their residents for points south to escape the snow, ice and harsh winter temperatures.

That’s right. Snowbirds. They spend the warmer months up north and head south for their second homes as soon as the weather turns. Maintaining two homes hundreds of miles apart poses some interesting logistical challenges, but here’s where HOAs (and their community management partners) can step in and provide peace of mind and assistance as needed.

HOAs can help snowbirds in both their primary and secondary residences through a number of services, including prevention and intervention.

Prevention services can include regular security checks of all points of entry (doors, windows, garages, etc.) and ensuring that heat, electricity and water services are all operating properly. Frozen, burst pipes are never a good thing, especially when you’re several hundred miles away and possibly unaware of the damage.

That’s nobody’s idea of a happy homecoming.

Periodic inspections of the primary residence while the owners are away can prevent costly repairs down the line, particularly flushing showers and sinks to prevent the pipes from seizing, or ensuring that gutters are free from leak-causing ice dams.

Smaller tasks like landscaping and general housekeeping fall under routine maintenance — all under the purview of the HOA and associated vendors.

Intervention services kick in if a problem arises, such as overseeing a renovation or repair project, collecting bids and allowing work to commence. If substantial repairs are deemed necessary, the HOA should provide regular updates to residents via email, photos and status phone calls. After all, no one wants to be kept in the dark about what’s happening in their primary residence during their sojourn down south.

If your HOA doesn’t currently offer prevention and intervention-type services for your snowbird residents, don’t fret: neighbors helping neighbors can go a long way to covering for one another. Your association bylaws and decisions by the board can formalize protocols and procedures to minimize liability and make sure everyone’s best interests are adequately and appropriately represented.

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