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How to Prepare Your Rental Home for Winter

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Back to Posts Snowy winter neighborhood, with dark house and street light

Are you ready for winter yet? 

With the colder days now upon us and winter quickly rushing in, now’s the time that most of us start thinking of all things merry and bright. But the holiday season brings more than just Christmas preparations –it’s also an important time of year for making sure your property is ready for the season, and in good condition to weather the chillier days as well.

Generally, property maintenance responsibilities fall to both landlord and tenant. In most cases, things that are important for maintaining the property’s value or staving off further damage are the landlord’s responsibility. However, there are a number of basic tasks that tenants can handle on their own, and which could be assigned to the tenant easily enough. Either way, it’s always best to document which party is responsible for what tasks by outlining it in the rental agreement. 

With this in mind, here’s a look at some tips for preparing your home for winter –see which jobs usually fall under the category of landlord and tenant. And get your home ready for winter –before the first flakes start to fall!

Landlord Responsibilities

The weather outside might be frightful, but you can keep your property in great shape by performing the following winterization tasks:

  • Arrange for Snow Removal

The white fluffy stuff might look nice, but it can be a hazard –especially in colder places where prompt removal is key to preventing icy buildup. This is one task that can fall to landlord or tenant –depending on what’s outlined in the lease. If you’re not sure, take a look at your local ordinances, to make sure there’s not a clause stating that landlords are responsible for snow removal. 

  • Check the Roof and Gutters

Beat Santa to the rooftop this year! It’s the time of year for heading up on the roof and checking that the gutters and roofing is damage-free. You’ll also want to ensure that the gutters are clean from debris and secured properly. A leaky roof can dampen even the most festive of seasons, so take care that it’s addressed ahead of time. 

Ensuring that your downspouts are clear and working properly will ensure that any runoff goes where it should –and will keep it from spilling over into your driveway, or freezing and turning your walkways into an ice rink.

  • Schedule a Service for the HVAC System

One of the most important steps in winterizing your rental, it’s crucial that you have the furnace serviced –ideally, before winter arrives. A professional service involves changing the filters, cleaning components, as well as lubricating motor parts if necessary. It also involves checking and inspecting the system to see if there are any issues that should be addressed. 

If there’s an A/C unit at the property, now is the time to wrap it for the winter as well.

  • Prune Dangerous Branches 

Dangerous branches; especially any large ones that are overhanging the house, outbuildings, or walkways should be removed. A sudden gust of wind or a storm can cause precarious branches to fall, so be sure to perform an inspection, checking for any potential hazards, and then arrange to have them removed. A well-pruned tree is a healthy tree –and a lot safer as well!

  • Get the Fireplace Ready

The fire is so inviting! If your property has a chimney, it’s important to make sure it’s cleaned and ready to do its job. This means having it swept to get rid of debris, and making sure it’s inspected to check for flue blockages or creosote buildup. 

  • Check the Weather Stripping 

It’s also a good idea to check the weather stripping and caulking around all of the doors and window frames, to make sure it’s still in good condition. This is a prime way for heat to escape, so it’s worth ensuring that there are adequate seals in place to keep the cold out.

  • Check Indoor Devices

Now is also the time to check the smoke detectors and CO2 detectors, and make sure the fire extinguishers are filled and working. 

  • Winterize Outside Faucets and Pipes 

Winterizing outdoor faucets and pipes can help to prevent burst pipes. If you can, try to shut off the water to the outside faucets, then drain the remaining water from the pipes. Finally, cover exterior piping with weather-resistant insulation. 

Tenant Responsibilities

There are a number of things that tenants can do to help get the property ready for winter as well. 

While maintenance isn’t the most exciting winter task, the right planning can help to prevent mid-winter emergencies. And let’s face it; none of us want to be stuck with a leaking roof –or broken furnace, over Christmas!

With this in mind, here’s a look at some tips for keeping your home in good shape all winter.

  • Run the Furnace 

Before winter arrives, it’s a good idea to switch the furnace on and run it to make sure it’s working. It’s better to discover early on that there’s a problem, rather than waiting until winter –when it can be hard to find a technician.

  • Leave the Heat On

When the temperature goes down, keep the heat up. While you may be tempted to cut the heat if you’re going away over Christmas, it’s important to leave the thermostat switched on –albeit on a lower setting, to prevent the pipes from freezing and sustaining damage.

  • Locate the Water Shut Off Valve

It’s also important to know where the water shut off valve is located. Should something happen, like a burst pipe, turning the valve off can help to prevent costly water damage. And if you’re planning on going away, consider turning the water off, in case a pipe bursts while you’re gone.

  • Help Prevent Frozen Pipes

During a cold snap, it’s a good idea to leave your attic open just a crack. This will allow some warm air in, helping to prevent the pipes from freezing. If you’re going to be away during the winter, consider leaving the attic hatch ajar before you go. During subzero temperatures, it’s also a good idea to leave two taps running very slowly. The continual flow of water will help to prevent the pipes from freezing. 

  • Clear Walkways and Driveway

If you live in a wooded area, you’ll want to make sure you keep your walkways and parking areas clear from leaves and debris. Leaves will quickly turn slippery and can make a mess of your walkways –looking unsightly and presenting a safety risk.

  • Stow Seasonal Items

You’ll also want to ensure that your outside items –patio furniture, flower pots, and hoses are safely stowed away for the winter. This will help to keep them from getting damaged or blown away during a storm.

  • Do Some Winter Landscaping

Make sure your plants are all pruned and ready for winter as well. Mulch can help to prevent roots from freezing, while cold-sensitive plants in planters should be taken indoors. You may also want to fertilize the lawn before winter sets in to give it a head start for spring. 

  • Be Alert for Signs of Infestation 

Winter is the season when unwanted guests arrive and make themselves at home. Yes, we’re talking about pests –especially rodents, who often come indoors in search of food and shelter from the cold. Make sure you’re alert for any signs of these unwanted intruders, and be proactive when it comes to keeping them out. Identify entry points that could be sealed and set a few traps or use rodenticide if you suspect a problem. Just remember to keep all traps and poison out of reach of pets and children. 

See also: Rent Estate™ Podcast Episode 04: Tips for Dealing With Rental Maintenance

In addition to the preventative maintenance that should be done, many of the above tips involve maintaining a proactive approach all winter long. By knowing what to expect, and things to look out for, tenants can help to keep their home in good shape all winter. 

And landlords remember, if you’d like your tenants to perform the above tasks, make sure you write them down in the lease –so tenants know exactly what’s expected of them. 

While performing maintenance takes time –getting your home winter-ready is a worthy investment. Whether you’re a landlord, or a tenant, there’s a lot that you can do to help keep your property safe and sound this winter. Then get back to enjoying the rest of the holiday season!

Short on time, but needing to get your rentals ready for winter? At Renters Warehouse, we can help. Our property managers can help to oversee maintenance tasks –and even handle mid-winter emergencies, keeping you from having to deal with frozen pipes and furnace problems this winter! Reach out today to learn more

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