Maintaining the property is one of the most important jobs of a rental property manager. This responsibility is not only important for keeping your tenants happy and meeting your obligations as a landlord, but it is also a crucial part of protecting your investment and controlling costs.
When it comes to maintaining your properties through winter, a little preventative maintenance can go a long way. By taking the time to do a little work to winterize your properties, you can prevent damage, protect yourself against liability from accidents like slip and falls, and reduce the potential for emergency maintenance calls.
Protect the Plumbing System
Burst pipes happen to be one of the most common causes of water damage. If you have pipes that are in unheated areas of a rental home, there is the potential that water could freeze in the pipe. When water freezes, it expands which can result in a leak.
There are several steps you could take to prevent frozen and burst pipes this winter. One is to insulate any pipes that are in unheated areas. If the rental home has outdoor faucets, you should close the valves and cover the faucets. If you have a rental home that is unoccupied during the winter, you may even want to consider closing the water main and draining the lines.
Inspect Stairs and Walkways
With the added element of ice and snow, things like driveways, stairs, and walkways can be even more hazardous. Before winter starts, you should inspect walkways and stairs to make sure they are safe. If you find cracks in these areas that need repair work, you should try to get the job done before winter.
Additionally, you should talk to tenants about whose responsibility it is to clear sidewalks and driveways. In some situations, snow removal might be the responsibility of the landlord, and in others, it might be the responsibility of the tenant. The rules can vary depending on the type of rental property, the laws in your region, and the terms of the rental agreement.
As winter approaches, you should do what you can to eliminate drafts. This means checking for air leaks and switching out the screens for storm windows. Go to your rental properties and check all of the doors and windows for leaks. If you find any, use caulk and weather stripping to seal them.
If you want to make the home more energy efficient and improve comfort for your tenants, you should also inspect the attic insulation. If the insulation is old or insufficient, you may want to consider adding insulation to keep the heat in.
Prepare the Heating System
Since the heating system is going to be hard at work keeping the home warm, you should check the furnace at every rental property. To start, you want to make sure the filters are changed or cleaned regularly. You should also inspect the furnace to make sure it is safe and in good working condition.
Any rental properties that have a fireplace should get special attention, as fireplaces and chimneys should be cleaned every year. Beyond cleaning these features, you should also install screens or covers to prevent embers from coming out of the fireplace.
Make Your Properties Rodent-Proof
Rats, mice, and other rodents are going to be looking for a warm place to stay during the cold winter. If you’re not careful, they might try to nest in one of your rental properties. To prevent this, you should inspect for and seal any openings through which rodents might be able to enter the home.
Beyond sealing any openings, you should try to keep the properties clean and remove any trash that might be left behind. This is just as important for unoccupied units as it is for those that have tenants. In fact, an empty rental home might be even more attractive to pests.
When it comes to winterizing rental properties, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. Most of these maintenance steps are low cost, but if they are left unchecked, they could lead to problems that are both costly and dangerous.