Going on Vacation – What can go wrong at home

December 2018

When it comes time to travel south for a few months or to a far-away destination for a week or two, many fail to consider what can happen at home.

Living in a high-rise condo home makes it easier to relax while away secure in the knowledge that your home is protected by security people and systems in a building.

Much can still go wrong if proper precautions are not taken before travelling. Vacationers and business travellers can return to serious and expensive problems that could be prevented with a little foresight.

Tenants failing to arrange for someone to check in on the home during an extended absence could leave the owner responsible for damage to the suite and other affected suites.

Insurance may not cover these situations. Condo insurance policies may include a clause requiring vacant suites be checked regularly.

Water damage is the biggest problem. In an unoccupied condo a faulty or improperly installed appliance, or illegal renovations, could result in water leakage. Uncontained, water within a suite will cause greater damage which can extend to other suites and common areas. In an unoccupied condo suite not checked daily, a minor problem that goes unnoticed can become very expensive.

Insurance coverage can lapse while on vacation if a condo is not checked regularly as stated in an insurance policy. Once insurance coverage lapses the cost of repairing damage to a condo suite, common areas or other suites may become the responsibility of a condo owner or tenant. It is best to contact your insurance provider to clarify what requirements apply before travelling.

Condo corporations can help protect residents and owners against problems relating to extended resident absences:

  • Have a standard unit by-law in place.
  • Periodically inspect water sources. Require condo owners to correct deficiencies.
  • Require condo owners to obtain permission before renovations or installation of appliances that use water.
  • Mandate use of high-pressure water lines.
  • Provide all owners and tenants with condo rules. Require owners and tenants to acknowledge their receipt of condo rules and provide proof of insurance.
    Conduct periodic and mandatory suite checks to ensure compliance. Document suite issues as identified. This can include water leaks, unapproved renovations and health or safety concerns that can impact on other suites or common areas.

These efforts allow residents to enjoy their vacation knowing efforts have been made to protect their home against many of the common problems that arise in their home and those of neighbours. The condo corporation is better protected from being responsible for costs arising from avoidable problems relating to improper suite maintenance and extended absences.