The trees are bare and cold weather is setting in; winter is upon us. This is the time of year where late-night maintenance calls for frozen pipes, broken down heaters, and tenants locked out in the snow add even more stress to landlords. If you do not want to have these emergencies unexpectedly arise, preventative maintenance is crucial. That said, regular seasonal maintenance and tune-ups are vital to your rental property investment’s health and safety. So, follow along with us below as we walk landlords through.
Rental Property Maintenance for the Winter Season
It can seem as though maintenance tasks are endless for a landlord. However, careful planning and prevention help to avoid potentially costly emergencies. Winter brings a host of maintenance challenges every landlord should prepare for. Below we take a look at the key areas of rental property maintenance to protect your investment property.
- Trim Shrubs and Cut Back Trees
- Prepping the Yard
- Clean Gutters
- Exterior and Foundation Inspection
- Winterize Outdoor Hookups
- Chimney Cleaning
- Prepare for Snow Removal
- Check for Cracks
- Winterize the Pipes
- Service Essential Systems
- Reverse the Ceiling Fans
- Check Your Detectors
Rental Property Maintenance Checklist – Outdoors
Trim Shrubs and Cut Back Trees
Wind and ice can easily bring down limbs onto a property’s roof or exterior, creating a potentially dangerous and expensive situation. Therefore, inspect trees for signs of dead or damaged limbs that should be cut before falling and causing damage. Now is also a great time to spruce up the rest of the property’s landscaping by removing debris and trimming hedges. Never underestimate the power of curb appeal in a rental property.
Prepping the Yard
It is good to give the grass one final cut before the first big freeze of the year. This step allows the grass to send energy to the root system, which aids in a healthy regrowth in springtime. Raking up and removing remaining dead leaves also promotes lawn health. Built-up leaf matter traps water and hinders the penetration of sunlight. Therefore, your lawn is prone to mold and fungus growth that can easily kill the grass over time.
Gutters full of debris and leaves can cause water to reroute and damage the property’s exterior, roof, or foundation. Therefore, at minimum, clean gutters twice per year. Additionally, while you are up there, take a look at the condition of your roof.
Potential issues are nearly impossible to see under a few feet of snow, and then it is too late. Address and damaged gutters, holes, or detached downspouts, as well as any roof issues you come across immediately.
Exterior and Foundation Inspection
Falling leaves and snow can hide problems brewing around the property exterior. So, carefully check the foundation, patio, walkways, and entry points to ensure they are free from leaks, cracking, or damage. Keep in mind, winter’s colder temperatures entice rodents to look for safe shelter indoors. Rodents can cause a great deal of damage through destroying wiring, harboring diseases, and chewing through anything in their path. Therefore, take time to seal up any exterior points of entry that rodents may take advantage of.
Winterize Outdoor Hookups
Just like indoor pipes, outside garden hoses and spigots can freeze and break. Therefore, detach any hose connections and drain all liquid before properly storing hoses for the winter. Once complete, turn off the outside water supply and bleed the lines to ensure no water remains that could freeze and rupture the spigot or pipe.
If the property has a fireplace, proper chimney care is essential to rental property maintenance. Inspect and clean chimneys and vents at least once per year. Doing so helps to prevent the risk of chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Thanks to sites such as Angie’s List, finding a professional chimney sweep in your area is easier than ever.
Prepare for Snow Removal
Snow falling means snow removal. In some cases, your rental property maintenance under the lease may require tenants to be responsible for snow removal. If not, the worst thing you can do is wait to secure a snow removal service contract.
These are not only harder to find, but more expensive if you wait. So, secure a company now to ensure they are in place and ready to act when the first flake hits the ground.
Rental Property Maintenance Checklist – Indoors
Check for Cracks
Interior seals around windows and doors can leak cold air and moisture into your rental property. So, to keep your HVAC from having to work harder and check the property interior for signs of cracks. This is also a great time to ensure your rental property is properly insulated. Attics, crawlspaces, and open areas can cause warm air to be lost if they do not have enough insulation.
Winterize the Pipes
Dropping temperatures signal a higher risk for frozen and busted pipes. Preventing frozen pipes requires educating tenants on recognizing signs, what steps to take, and tips for preventing frozen pipes.
Additionally, installing pipe insulation can help protect vital plumbing fixtures. Frozen pipes are a potentially devastating repair, so it is worth the time to remind tenants of their responsibility as cold weather approaches.
Service Essential Systems
During colder weather, the property’s HVAC system and water heater work overtime. Therefore, having working heat during the winter months is a basic right to tenants, and the system needs to function properly to prevent an emergency. So, consider a service contract with a reputable maintenance specialist to ensure your major systems are running smoothly all year long. Additionally, remind tenants of the proper way to change HVAC filters to boost efficiency.
Reverse the Ceiling Fans
Warm air rises. So, if possible, reverse the property’s ceiling fans. This forces warm air back down into living spaces to help regulate the temperature more efficiently. Especially if the home has vaulted or high ceilings, this tip is a big help. Tenants will appreciate the added heating savings as well.
Check Your Detectors
A winter maintenance inspection is a perfect time to check and test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Ensuring these vital alarms are in working order is critical to the tenant’s safety and the protection of your property. If you do not have the correct amount or proper devices, now is the time to correct it. At a minimum, each floor needs to have an alarm but check with your local code guidelines to ensure compliance.
Protect Your Investment with Professional Management
Rental property maintenance is a huge undertaking but essential to protecting your valuable investment property. Do you have a network of trusted vendors you can rely on? We do! Bay Property Management Group calls on both our team of in-house maintenance technicians and our established relationships with third-party vendors to get the job done, big or small. Whether it is completing an inspection or serving major systems, we understand how maintenance affects an owner’s bottom line. Give us a call today to learn more about our full-service investment property management and how it can benefit you.