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15 Tips to Winter-Proof Your Rental Property

Renters Warehouse Blog

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The weather outside is frightening! And for landlords, that means it’s time to ensure that your rentals are ready for the colder months ahead.

Unless you happen to live in a region that stays warm year-round (if so, then you can ignore this list, you lucky soul, you!), then there are a number of things you’ll want to do to protect your rentals and keep them from experiencing burst pipes and leaking roofs over the festive season. Preventative maintenance can not only save you time but will also help you to save money long-term since it’ll stop smaller problems in their tracks before they escalate into bigger issues, requiring even more time and money. 

Being proactive is always the best approach. In addition to keeping your properties in great shape, regular, routine maintenance will also go a long way toward keeping your tenants happy as well. 

Don’t let unexpected call-outs put a damper on this holiday season! Here’s a look at a handy list of tasks that you’ll want to do –ideally, before winter sets in. 

Prepping your property for winter? See: tips for both landlords AND tenants.

  • Winterize External Pipes 

First up, it’s time to winterize any external pipes. External pipes can freeze during the dead of winter, which puts them at risk of expanding and cracking, especially if your area regularly sees sub-zero temperatures. Wrapping any exposed pipes in heat tape or insulation can help keep them from freezing. If you have the option to, shut off the water supply to any outdoor faucets and drain the pipes completely so there’s no water in them to freeze in the first place. Likewise, all irrigation systems, including hoses and sprinkler systems, should be shut off, drained, and stored for the winter as well.

  • Have the Furnace Inspected 

Don’t let your rental turn into a frosty wonderland! Few things are as frustrating as having the heat go out in the middle of winter. Not only will you be paying for an emergency callout, chances are you may be placed on a waiting list since demand for furnace repairs increases considerably during the winter. Don’t wait until it becomes an issue. Be proactive by scheduling an HVAC service and inspection sooner, rather than later, so you can get on top of any repairs that may need to be done. 

  • Flush the Hot Water Heater

Hot water heaters are notoriously fickle. They always quit right when you need them most. To keep yours in good shape for longer, consider flushing it periodically to remove sediment. Or, have a plumber do the job for you. You’ll also want to have them check the pressure relief valve to make sure it’s still working as well. 

  • Check Smoke Detectors

It’s just a drill! Next up, test all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms to make sure they’re still working. If they’re battery operated, replace the batteries with new, long-lasting ones. 

  • Check Windows and Doors 

Drafty windows and doors can let the heat escape. Take some time to check the weatherstripping around your doors and replace it if it’s cracked or brittle. For windows, check to see if there are any places where caulk could be applied. 

  • Inspect the Roof and Gutters 

Santa’s not the only one going up on the housetop! Now is also a good time to inspect the roof and gutters as well. If there are any problem areas, you’ll want to get them taken care of before the snow arrives. It’s also important to check the gutters and clear out any debris so they can properly channel the water away from the roof and house, preventing it from pooling. Also, check that the gutters and downspouts are still attached and re-secure as necessary. Snow and ice will add weight to them and could pull them away from the house, so make sure they’re draining properly, and secured in place. 

  • Plan for Snow and Ice Removal

Don’t let the front driveway turn into an ice rink! Make sure you establish who is responsible for ice and snow removal in your rental agreement. If you’re responsible, now is a good time to make sure you’ve arranged for snow removal services.

  • Trim Back Trees 

Heavy snow and ice, along with high winds, can cause branches to break. If you haven’t already, now is a good time to have dangerous trees pruned back. Especially if you have any branches that are overhanging the house, driveways, or walkways; or growing into overhead wires. 

  • Clean the Chimney 

Roasting chestnuts over an open fire? If your rental has a fireplace, it’s important to have it cleaned annually. This will help to prevent creosote buildup, which can cause smoke to build up in the house and even present a fire risk.

  • Cover or Remove A/C Units 

Now that there’s a chill in the air, your tenants probably won’t be using the A/C anytime soon. Now is the time to drain and winterize that unit. If you have removable window units, you should remove them and put them away until next year. If it’s a wall unit, then get an insulated cover to keep it from freezing and protect it from snow.

  • Check for Drafts 

If your tenants are feeling drafty, they’ll be feeling the difference in their energy bills as well. Now is a good time to go through the rental and check for any drafts coming in. Check to see if you can feel cold air blowing in along the outside walls and do what you can to insulate those areas to prevent heat from escaping. Your tenants will thank you when they see their reduced heating bills. 

  • Consider a Programmable Thermostat

While it might require an initial outlay, a programmable thermostat can be a worthy investment. Not only will your tenants be able to adjust the temperature to a reasonable setting while they are away, but they can also program it to heat up before they come home as well. As a side note, make sure you inform your tenants to leave the temperature at 55°F, should they plan on traveling during the winter, to keep things from freezing and becoming damaged.

  • Keep Safe

Fresh-fallen snow might look dreamy, but it can be dangerous. Repair faulty walkways and damaged stairs or railings, and ensure that there are no hazardous paths to navigate to and from the house. Likewise, make sure all walkways are well-lit; a dark exterior is dangerous to navigate, especially in the ice and snow. 

  • Prepare for Emergencies

No one wants to think about emergencies, but it’s good to be prepared. It’s a good idea to assemble a list of emergency contact numbers so that you have them on hand when an issue arises. If the furnace stops working Christmas Eve or the pipes freeze during an ice storm, knowing exactly who to call will keep your tenants from being without heat or water –something that can be dangerous during the cold winter months. 

  • Prepare Your Tenants 

No, you don’t have to supply your tenants with warm winter woolens. However, you should get in touch with them to ensure that they know what to do and things to look out for during the winter months. Make sure they know to inform you at the first sign of problems, including leaks, faucets not working, issues with the heating system, or signs of a pest infestation.

Maintenance might not be high up on anyone’s Christmas to-do list, but it’s definitely worth spending some time and money to get your properties into good shape for the winter months ahead. Like the saying goes, for every dollar that you spend on maintenance, you save five in repairs costs. Plus, keeping your properties in great shape will keep your tenants happier –and you as well –when you’re not interrupted with mid-winter emergencies. Enjoy your Christmas!

Owning a rental doesn’t have to be time-consuming –or stressful. You can outsource every step of property management, including maintenance, emergency call-outs, and repairs –by enlisting the help of a reputable property manager. Do you need a property manager? See if you could benefit from one.

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