Ensuring the safety, security and maintenance of your home are among the most important preparations you can make before leaving for a holiday. Whether you’re going on a week-long trip or a longer excursion, here are some handy tips to keep in mind.
Focus on security
In 2017, 159,336 break-and-enter offences were recorded in Canada, making such crimes among the most frequently reported across the country.1 Here are some tips to help prevent property crime:
- Look at your basic window security: Walk around and identify sliding windows and doors that could be easy entry points for a burglar. This could include basement windows or doors facing a fenced-in backyard. While you should lock all your doors and windows before you leave, an appropriately sized piece of lumber or metal bar adds an extra barrier to entry.
- Make your home looked lived in: Remember to cancel newspaper subscriptions and have your mail collected. Low-effort smart lighting, available through most home improvement retailers, can help make your house look occupied.
- Get a home security app: Many modern security systems allow you to monitor your home from your mobile device. A number of these solutions are available through major telecommunications providers (e.g., Bell Smart Home Security, Telus SmartHome Security, and Rogers Smart Home Monitoring).
- Arrange snow removal: This is a great step for both the safety of your neighbours and to make your house look occupied while you’re away.
- Establish an emergency contact: Designate a friend, relative or trusted neighbour who can contact you and act on your behalf in case there is an emergency in your home.
- Remove your emergency keys: The “hidden” place where you keep a spare key – e.g., under a flower pot, inside a garden ornament – are places a burglar has probably also thought of.
- Beware of using social media: While it might seem like fun to share constant updates about your travels, you are indirectly announcing that your home is unoccupied. Consider reducing your screen time and focus on having fun.
Ensure home maintenance is sortedWhen a house is left unattended, some existing home maintenance issues can become aggravated. However, some proactive pre-vacation preparation can reduce the chance of this happening. Here are some smart tips:
- Attend to home plumbing: If possible, turn off water valves to dishwashers, washing machines, and sinks. If you have an accessible water heater, see if it has a “vacation” setting and, if so, learn how to use it. Having a neighbour or trusted house sitter occasionally turn on your faucets and flush toilets can help prevent back-ups, frozen pipes and other plumbing headaches later.
- Disconnect your electrical devices: Unplugging small appliances can reduce the electricity your home consumes when you’re away.
A house sitter can helpHiring a trustworthy person or business to watch over your home can be a significant game changer. Imagine how many of the previously mentioned vacation preparations will no longer be necessary if you have the help of a house sitter. Such an arrangement can have plenty of other advantages as well.
- Pets: Animals don’t always adjust well to changes in their environment. You can either look to a professional pet sitting service or even a house sitter with experience caring for pets. Either of these could be an excellent alternative to a kennel or other boarding service.
- Insurance and bylaw issues: Some home insurance policies have clauses that void some coverage if a home is left unoccupied for a period of time that can be as short as several days. Hiring a house sitter can help allay these insurance concerns. If you live in a condominium, make sure you’re aware of condominium bylaws concerning leaving your unit unoccupied, informing condo management of a longer-term absence and having non-owners staying in your home.
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This article was originally published in October 2018 at https://www.investmentplanningcounsel.ca/and supplied by Scott Penney, PFP® and Wealth Advisor with Investment Planning Counsel of Canada.
1.Statistics Canada, Table 1: Police-reported crime for selected offences – Canada, July 23, 2018.