The COVID-19 has hijacked many fun festivities as we head into this Winter season. It is no doubt that gatherings will look different this year, but the holiday spirit is in full swing. Despite the pandemic, tenants may want to have small gatherings, spend extra time decorating, or skip town to visit close family. How can you keep your rental property safe this holiday season? Working along with your tenants to review common safety measures is essential for the safety of them and your investment. Check out these helpful talking points as well as safety and security tips for landlords below.
Top 10 Holiday Safety and Security Tips for Landlords
Regardless of how your tenants choose to spend their holidays, there are always a few safety measures to take into consideration. A quick conversation with your tenants can go a long way to curb potential liability if holiday plans get out of hand. Check out our safety and security tips for landlords below.
- Test Safety Equipment
- Inspect the Property Exterior
- Prepare for Cold Temperatures
- Verify Insurance Coverages
- Watch for Extended Vacancy
- Reiterate Max Occupancy Limits
- Let There Be Light, Just Not Too Much
- Review Emergency Procedures
- Limit Supplemental Appliances
- Securing the Premises
Test Safety Equipment
Winter and the holidays bring cozy fireplaces, lit Christmas trees, extra cooking for a crowd, and festive outdoor lighting. All of which could pose a threat to the safety of the occupants and property.
That said, now is the time to double check the property’s safety equipment. Ensure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning properly and have not been disconnected. If they are found inoperable for any reason, address it immediately. Additionally, local building codes specify the required number and location of these devices. As a landlord, it is your responsibility to make sure your rental property complies with local codes.
Inspect the Property Exterior
Winter weather ushers in hazards of all kinds. Some essential safety and security tips for landlords include examining the property’s exterior for potential threats. Remove any dead limbs or trees that could fall onto the home or cause damage.
If your rental property has a wood-burning or pellet stove, inspect and clean chimneys at least once per year. Also, keep the gutters clean and free of debris to ensure water or snowfall drains away from the roof and exterior walls. Skipping this important maintenance task leaves your investment property open for potential leaks and costly damage.
Prepare for Cold Temperatures
Nothing spells disaster faster than treacherous and icy walkways or parking areas. Relying on tenants to clear snow is possible but consider contracting a snow removal service. Seek out these vendors early in the season as once the first flake hits the ground it is probably too late. In addition, verify the tenants have changed or cleaned the HVAC filter for the season and have a reliable vendor perform preventative maintenance. Inform tenants to set the heat to a minimum of 55 degrees to avoid frozen pipes when temps begin to drop.
Verify Insurance Coverages
The new year is a great time to follow up with your insurance agent and review your landlord insurance coverage. However, it pays to verify your tenant’s coverage as well. As a landlord, requiring your tenants to carry liability and personal property renter’s insurance is essential to protecting both you and them. Tenants should have a minimum of $100,000 in liability coverage and enough personal property coverage to replace items should they be damaged in an emergency.
Watch for Extended Vacancy
As many individuals still opt to visit family on a smaller scale this year, out of town travel is a possibility. A vacant home is a prime opportunity for vandals, squatters, or package thieves to swoop in. So, touch base with your tenants and remind them to let you know if the property will be unoccupied over the holidays. This allows you to better keep an eye on the place and remind them of key measures such as holding mail at the post office for security, locking all windows and doors, setting heat to safeguard against frozen pipes, and any other property specific maintenance needs. Added security tips for landlord include installing a security system and motion sensor outdoor lighting if your budget allows. Your tenants will thank you!
Reiterate Max Occupancy Limits
The pandemic has gone a long way to limit gathering size, but it is worth reiterating your policy to tenants. Every residential lease should include a clause that outlines maximum occupancy.
Therefore, landlords need to periodically remind their tenants that holiday festivities do not equal a free pass to exceed the specified occupancy limit. If your property is a multi-family building, do not forget to post signage in the common areas to designate the maximum number of individuals that can gather.
Let There Be Light, Just Not Too Much
Who doesn’t love the warm and welcoming glow of candlelight? While it adds to the cozy atmosphere, it is also a potential fire hazard. However, many tenants may not realize how dangerous other decorations are as well. For example, a dry Christmas tree festooned with lights is a ticking time bomb.
Additionally, added extension cords or overloaded outlets supporting that festive holiday glow can threaten electrical systems. As part of our safety and security tips for landlords, we recommend educating tenants on the dangers of going overboard on decorations. Remind tenants to unplug any unattended lighted décor and suggest flameless candles or cooler operating LED strand lights instead of their more dangerous counterparts.
Interior and Exterior Décor Tips
- Replace any lighting strands that are worn or have frayed electrical cords.
- Do not leave electric decor on for extended periods or while occupants are asleep or away from the home.
- Check with HOA before purchasing or setting up large inflatable decorations.
- Do not leave candles unattended
- Ensure electrical cords are not pinched by furniture
- Keep live trees well-hydrated and away from heat sources
- Practice proper ladder use safety when installing outdoor decorations or lighting
Review Emergency Procedures
It is easy to get busy during the holidays and forget the basics. One of our top safety and security tips for landlords is to review emergency procedures with your tenants. Additionally, post and ensure your tenants have any important contact information for emergency services. Besides 911, provide numbers for the gas company as well as a number where you or your designated property manager can be reached in the event of an emergency.
Limit Supplemental Appliances
Hot plates, crock pots, turkey fryers, electric heaters, and faux fireplaces often take center stage during the holiday entertaining season. That said, they all pose a potential risk. More dangerous appliances such as turkey fryers use a large quantity of oil that can spill and catch fire. Therefore, these should never be allowed on the premises. As for extra household appliances, remind tenants to not overload outlets, do not leave heaters unattended, and follow all proper fire code guidelines.
Bonus Kitchen Reminders for a Safe Holiday Season
- Never leave unattended pots cooking on the stovetop
- Keep cooking utensils and debris away from the stove surface
- Ensure seasonal appliances are in good working order
- Keep children at least 3 feet away from a hot stove or oven
- Clear the floor of and debris and clean up any spills to prevent tripping or slipping
- Review the difference between putting out a grease fire versus an electrical one
- Verify tenants have and know how to use a fire extinguisher
Securing the Premises
No matter the season, no list of security tips for landlords is complete without reminding tenants to safeguard the property and their valuables. Winter holidays present unique challenges such as added package delivery volume and potential theft. Advise tenants to keep common area and individual unit doors and windows locked at all times. As a landlord, do what you can to assist in protecting both your tenants and investment. Installing some outdoor lighting at property entrances can make tenants feel more secure.
Safety is important 24/7/365 and landlords have a responsibility to communicate vital information. Our hope is that the safety and security tips for landlords above can begin a dialogue between owners and tenants. At Bay Property Management Group, our team takes care of the communications for you. As the area’s leading third-party property management company, our team bridges the gap between tenant satisfaction and owner needs. We ensure your investment property receives the necessary seasonal maintenance and tenants adhere to the policies of the lease agreement they signed. So, property owners can rest assured that the experts at Bay Property Management Group have their holiday season concerns under control. Give us a call today to learn more about the benefits of full-service rental management.