This article is #1 of a 6 part series Rental Property Maintenance Tips for Winter - Free Property Manager and Landlord Resources from a leader in single-family property management software and solutions.. For additional suggestions checkout the rest of the Rental Property Maintenance Tips for Winter series.
Since extreme winter temperatures and winds can take a major toll on buildings in cold weather regions, it is important that property managers take the necessary steps to winterize rental properties before the first snowfall of the season. Doing this will ensure that you will have to spend less time and money on plumbing, roofing, and other repairs come spring.
If you need a little help getting started, have a look at our list of the top things to do to get your rental properties ready for winter.
1. Leave the Heat On
Remind your tenants to maintain a minimum temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit when they go on vacation. This will prevent the pipes from freezing and bursting due to the cold temperatures.
2. Inspect Your HVAC Systems
Inspect the heating and air-conditioning systems in your units to make sure they are running efficiently. Arrange for the filters to be replaced if necessary.
3. Watch Your Pipes
Completely drain out the outdoor pipes and sprinkler/fountain systems to ensure they don’t freeze in sub-zero temperatures. As an added precaution, winterize exterior plumbing and pipes in unheated parts of the property or common areas such as clubhouses by covering them with inexpensive foam pipe insulation.
4. Look for Cracks
It's important to inspect the edges of doors and windows and the exterior walls of your properties for gaps or cracks through which heat loss can occur. Replace caulking or sealant as needed.
5. Inspect the Roof
Check the roof and chimney for broken or cracked shingles that can come loose during a storm. Since blocked gutters can cause snow dams and ceiling leaks on warmer days, make sure that the gutters and downspouts are completely clear and free of dirt and debris. You can also hire a qualified roofing contractor to perform a complete check of the roofing and do necessary repairs.
6. Prepare for Snow and Ice Removal
If you have contracted snow and ice removal to a vendor, confirm that your contract is current and valid. Now is also the time to call and shop around for rates if you were unsatisfied with their performance last year.
If you have your own personnel to handle snow removal, make sure you have all essential supplies such as salts, shovels and properly functioning snow blowers on hand. Don’t wait until bad weather comes knocking to take action!
7. Prevent Falling Branches
Check for any weak tree branches (or trees!) that can fall due to high winds or snow accumulation and cause property damage, or worse, injure your tenants.
8. Clean Your Chimneys
If your property has wood-burning fireplaces, hire a professional chimney sweep to clean them and inspect them for any sign of damage or obstruction.
9. Test Alarms and Detectors
If maintenance of the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in the property is your responsibility as per the lease agreement, now would be a good time to test the devices and replace the batteries.
10. Check Vacant Properties
Conduct periodic inspections of vacant properties throughout the winter. If you are responsible for taking care of a vacation home that will be empty for the season, you may want to completely turn off the water supply, drain the pipes and toilets, and put non-toxic antifreeze in the toilet bowls.
11. Don't Forget Your Rental Office
Remember to make sure that your on-site rental office and common areas such as clubhouses are also equipped to deal with the winter weather.
Of course, this is only a basic list of things that you need to do to get your rental properties ready for winter. Depending on the age, location and condition of the properties under your care, there may be other steps you need to take to prepare for the coming cold weather. Write in and share your tips through the Comments section below!
Kurt Jacobson is a snowboarding enthusiast with a background in real estate. Having moved 11 times in the past nine years, he thrives on helping others learn from his experiences. When he’s not out shredding the mountain, he writes about all things rental related for the website RentFinder.co and serves as a thought leader in the real estate industry.