How to Prepare Your Property for Winter Weather
There’s a lot to consider when you own a rental property, and it becomes more challenging during winter. Whether you’re trying to deal with 12 inches of snow or fix unexpected repairs, there are several things to prepare your space for the season. Here is a handy checklist that landlords can follow when they’re getting ready for December through March.
Test Your Carbon Monoxide And Smoke Detectors
It’s imperative to check your detectors before the colder weather sets in. Whether it’s a rental property or not, most people don’t open windows in winter. Even though smoke from a fire is visible and easy to detect, carbon monoxide is invisible and can be deadly. By doing a routine inspection on your detectors, you can ensure that it’s in good shape and ready for winter. You would become liable should someone get injured as a result of a malfunctioning detector.
Most states have specific regulations about carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. Not only do you need them in your rental property, but they have to get placed in different areas. For instance, smoke detectors need to have locations in bedrooms, hallways, and kitchens. Carbon monoxide detectors should be placed in bedrooms, hallways, and any other areas where a furnace or fuel-burning appliances are located.
Inspect Your HVAC Unit
It’s more productive to invest money in proactive maintenance versus emergency repair. Your HVAC system is what keeps the rental property at a comfortable temperature even as it gets below zero outside. When you call a contractor, they can inspect an array of aspects of your HVAC unit. First, they’ll inspect the ductwork to make sure there are no leaks or problems. Next, they can check the blower and fan to ensure they are functioning properly. The filters will also get inspected for any buildup of dust or dirt. Exterior pipes also need to get insulated because these units can freeze in the winter. Finally, your HVAC unit should be inspected for any signs of corrosion.
Get A Roof Inspection
The roof is another part of your rental property that is a prime concern during the winter. During heavy snowstorms, the roof takes a lot of pressure. The roof must be able to handle the extra weight of the snow. If a roof is in bad shape, it can put your property at risk for leaks or worse. Roofing experts can also inspect the gutters and make sure they are clear of debris or ice build-up. Take care of the inspection before the first major snowstorm of the season.
Arrange The Property For Snow Removal
Your tenants might love how the snow looks on the property, but it also becomes a hazard if not taken care of properly. At least a month or two ahead, landlords need to arrange snow removal services. Depending on the lease agreement, your tenant might also have responsibility for this service. Either way, it needs to be made clear that snow can’t build up on the property and that it needs to be cleaned off.
Not many people would enjoy taking a cold shower when it’s freezing outside. The water heater needs to be in good working condition during the winter. If it isn’t, your water heater will likely break down during the snowstorm. This could mean a costly repair bill for you and cold showers for your tenant. It would also be in your best interest to have routine maintenance every year on a water heater. Mineral buildups can cause a water heater to break down and could also cause the water temperature to fluctuate. This is a problem that is easily fixed and prevents bigger problems from occurring.
Weatherproof The House Inside And Out
Just like you made changes to your property in the summer, the winter can wreak havoc. if you don’t winterize your property damages can be costly. First, start by adding caulking to the windows and doors. This will help stop drafts and prevent water leaks. You may also want to add weather stripping to the doors, windows, and vents in the home. Remember that snow can add a lot of weight to the branches on your trees. Contact a tree service company to come trim and prune the trees. The small maintenance tip can prevent heavy limbs from falling over on the home, causing major damage to the roof.
Establish Expectations With Your Tenants
Another aspect of getting your property ready for winter is establishing what tasks tenants need to complete or monitor. Below are some examples of what you could expect from your tenants. An easy way to remind your tenants of their responsibilities for winter is to send out a newsletter a few weeks before winter begins. If you haven’t already, create a Winter Weather Addendum and specifically state what is expected of your tenant and provide clear guidelines for how things will be handled. Don’t forget to include the landlords responsibilities as well..
- Ask your tenants to run the furnace- It’s important to ensure the furnace is working optimally before the freezing temperatures set in. It’s much more difficult to find a contractor when they’re out doing other service calls or the weather is too harsh to drive.
- Maintain heat at a constant temperature- As the temperature starts to decrease, keeping the heat on becomes critical. Remind tenants the heat needs to stay running because pipes can end up freezing or bursting. This can cause extensive damage.
- Notice signs of infestation- Furry critters are undoubtedly looking for somewhere warm in the wintertime. A home is a perfect place. Good practices include shutting the door immediately if you got outside, keeping food away from entryways, and vacuuming often.
The Bottom Line About Winter Property Maintenance
Property preservation becomes vital no matter what time of the year it is. Winter is more challenging, but these tips make it more feasible to survive the season without significant damage. Establish clear and consistent communication with tenants so they know what to expect. Everyone will be happier, and you will have fewer headaches.