The quintessential kiwi summer holiday may look a little different in 2021/2022, but the fact that we’ll be away from home remains the same. So, what do tenants and landlords need to take care of at home before they hit the road or runway?
While they’re not legal obligations, there are a few things tenants should do before departing on their summer getaway. They’re mostly common sense things that help ensure you return to a safe and secure home — not one missing the TV, personal belonging, or a vehicle.
A smart move before you take off is to let your landlord or property manager know that you’re going to be out of town, which dates you’ll be gone, and how they can get hold of you in the event of an emergency.
It might not be an emergency they need to contact you about; it could also be the likes of an alarm that won’t hush or an open window that’s been brought to their attention.
Some insurance companies require notification when a property is going to be vacant for an extended period of time, so failing to let your landlord or property manager know you’ll be away can also have insurance implications. So, let them know and they can loop in the insurance company.
If you have a good relationship with your neighbours, you can let them know you’re going away, too, and ask them to check in on the place. This only works if they’re home when you’re not, so chat to all your neighbours and you can all watch out for each other.
Some of us don’t have any contact with our neighbours aside from the occasional wave, and that’s just fine. If that’s the case, ask a friend or relative to pop in and clear your mail and park their car in your driveway during their visits.
Security devices like alarms, infrared monitors, timer lights, motion sensors, and security cameras can go a long way in deterring thieves from targeting your home while you’re on holiday.
Criminal activity usually spikes in the holiday season, so investing in these additional measures can help you avoid heartbreak, replacement costs, and insurance claim excesses.
Locking your windows and doors is a given, but it pays to check their condition a few weeks in advance of your trip. If there’s a dodgy window latch or door lock you’ve been ignoring, it’s definitely time to speak to your property manager or landlord about replacing it.
Always take another lap around the home from the outside before you set sail to make sure every window and every door is closed, locked, or both. And if there’s more than one of you, check each other’s handy work!
This is a debate that will likely rage on until we all have smart homes with window fittings we can close and open via our phones.
There’s an argument that leaving all curtains and blinds open is the way to go, while others say keep them all closed, and another group of armchair experts will tell you to leave some open and some closed. At the very least, store valuables out of plain sight before you leave.
Keeping a light on in the main living area is a good idea so it looks like someone is home. Even better yet is to have this light on a timer, and to also have a tv or radio on a timer to go on in the evenings and off when you’d usually go to bed.
Long debate, short — there is no substitute for removing valuables from sight, and an alarm is the best deterrent of thieves. The ultimate is having your alarm monitored by a security company.
Employing a professional house sitter or friend to stay in your house while you’re on holiday is even better than an alarm. This kills two birds (or maybe it keeps them alive…) with one stone as they can also feed and exercise your pets, saving you from putting them in a cattery, kennels or similar.
Landlords aren’t legally obligated to inform their tenants when they are going away on holiday, but the level of availability they have maintained throughout the year should be continued during their holiday — at least for emergencies.
This means if the stove stops working or the front door falls off, landlords should be able to answer their tenant’s emails or phone calls and get a tradesperson on the scene as soon as possible.
If the landlord isn’t going to be able to meet their legal obligations as a landlord (say there’s no phone signal where they’re going), they need to allocate someone their tenant can contact in their absence.
In any case, it’s nice for landlords to let their tenants know they’re going out of town and may be harder to get hold of than usual. The tenant might inform them that they’ll be away during the same period, or mention something they need addressed prior to the landlords return.
For the ultimate in holiday relaxation, landlords should enlist the services of a professional property manager to take care of their investment property.
With an experienced team of property managers looking after their property and tenants, they can fully commit to their holiday, feel reassured that their investment property is safe and in capable hands.
And if you’re curious, see what the New Zealand Police have to say on the matter of leaving your home these holidays.