From the risks of frozen pipes and broken down heating systems to hazards from ice, snow, and fireplaces, winter weather brings with it a whole range of new challenges for landlords to deal with.
But by following a winter property management checklist, you can ensure your rental property is ready for the cold and mitigate these risks.
Winter Property Management To-Dos: Outdoors
Thoroughly cleaning your property’s gutters before winter sets in helps ensure proper drainage when it rains or when snow or ice on your roof melts and runs off.
In fact, you should be cleaning your rental property’s gutters at least twice a year, removing leaves, twigs, and other debris to avoid water damage and other problems.
While you’re cleaning the gutters, keep an eye out for any damage, such as holes and cracks in the gutters or detached downspouts, and fix these issues to ensure the gutters work as they should.
Prepare the yard
To help ensure a healthy, happy yard in the coming spring, it’s a good idea to mow the lawn ahead of the first freeze of the winter season. You should also rake up dead leaves and remove all debris from the yard.
These simple steps will help the grass regrow quickly in the springtime and prevent harmful mold and fungus from growing on the lawn over the winter.
If your rental property has a fireplace, cleaning the chimney before it starts getting used in the winter is something you definitely don’t want to overlook.
Hire a professional chimney sweep to come inspect the chimney and perform a routine cleaning when you’re winterizing your property.
Along with other fire safety best practices, this helps reduce the risk of a chimney fire and carbon monoxide poisoning — not to mention your tenants will be happy to have a fully functioning fireplace this winter!
Check the roof and exterior walls for cracks
Cracks and other gaps in the roof or siding of your rental property can present a number of problems that are amplified in the winter.
For instance, water from heavy rains or melting snow and ice can find their way into the structure and cause bigger problems. Or, rodents and other small animals may make their way inside looking for warmth, and could chew through electrical wires or cause other damage.
So, make sure to thoroughly examine the exterior of your rental unit for cracks and holes and repair them before it’s too late.
Trim trees and shrubs
Branches on unpruned trees and shrubs can snap during a winter storm or because of the weight of ice and snow accumulating on them, potentially landing on your property and damaging it.
Take a look at trees and shrubs near your rental unit and trim off any dead or damaged limbs or anything that’s too close to your property’s roof and windows.
Organize snow removal/salting if needed
If you own a rental property in an area where winter snow is inevitable, make sure to line up a snow removal contractor to come deal with it this winter to prevent slips and falls (unless your tenants are responsible for this).
If you wait until the last minute to do this, all the contractors in the area might be busy and you could be left shoveling and salting your property all by yourself!
Winter Property Management To-Dos: Indoors
Make sure heaters work
Before winter comes, schedule a professional inspection of your property’s heating system to make sure it’s in good working order.
Even if the system turns on and appears to be working, it’s a good idea to get a licensed professional to inspect it before it gets cold out, as they will be able to identify and fix issues that can slip past an untrained eye.
Freezing temperatures mean that pipes are more prone to freezing and bursting, which can result in very expensive cleanup and repairs.
To avoid these problems with your rental property this winter, make sure to winterize pipes by installing pipe insulation.
You should also turn off the water supply to outdoor pipes, such as hose connections, as these are even more at risk of freezing during the winter.
Make sure smoke detectors are working
Because of the increased use of heaters, fireplaces, candles, and other combustibles during winter, the winter months represent an increased risk of fire.
So, it’s of the utmost importance to test all your property’s smoke detectors and change their batteries before winter if they haven’t been changed in the last six months.
Additionally, if any of the smoke detectors are more than 10 years old, you should replace them with new ones.
You should also make sure your rental property has enough smoke detectors. Typically, this means at least one per floor, but check local regulations to be sure.
In general, it’s best to have a smoke detector in every bedroom, as well as in hallways and other rooms of the house. You can skip putting one in the kitchen, where smoke from cooking is likely to set it off accidentally.
Check for cracks and broken seals around doors and windows
Cracks and damaged seals around your doors and windows lead to drafts and poor performance of heating systems.
As part of your winter property management routine, inspect doors and windows for damage and replace or fix things like broken seals or cracked panes of glass.
With winter just around the corner, it’s time for landlords to start thinking about winterizing rental properties.
Not only does this protect properties from risks of damage and safety issues associated with cold weather, but it will help keep your tenants happy during the cold season and build a better landlord-tenant relationship!