Landlord's Guide: Winterize Your Rentals for the Holidays
It's that time of year again; the holidays are approaching, and the temperatures are dropping. As an owner of a rental property, December means it's time to ensure your investment is protected from the elements. You've worked hard all year to acquire and maintain your properties; don't let the winter weather catch you off guard and damage your assets. This month requires some extra attention to detail to keep your rentals cozy for tenants and in good shape for the long run. Follow this guide to winterizing your investment through routine maintenance, preventative measures, and safety checks. Your tenants will appreciate your diligence and proactiveness, and you'll have peace of mind knowing your properties are secure for the season. Now, a few hours of effort will save you time, money, and headaches. Gear up, layer up, and get ready to winterize your investment!
Preparing Rental Properties for Winter Weather
The winter season brings extra responsibilities for rental property owners. Ensure your investment is protected by winterizing rentals before the cold sets in.
Inspect the roof and gutters
Clear leaves and debris from gutters and downspouts to allow for proper drainage and prevent ice dams. Check the roof for any visible damage or leaks and repair or seal them. If rentals have flat roofs, remove standing water to avoid seepage.
Service the furnace
Have furnaces serviced by a technician to ensure safe and efficient operation. Replace air filters, lubricate parts, and conduct tests to identify issues early. Furnace failure is one of the most common winter emergencies, so preventative maintenance is key.
Wrap exposed pipes
Wrap pipes, especially those along exterior walls or in unheated areas like the basement or attic. Pipe insulation or heat tape can prevent freezing, which often leads to bursting.
Check windows and doors
Inspect windows and doors for air leaks or drafts and seal or weatherstrip them. Caulk small cracks, and for larger gaps, consider installing storm windows, doors, or plastic sheeting.
Stock emergency gear
Provide rentals with emergency equipment like a generator, space heater, shovels, sand or kitty litter, flashlights, batteries, a fully stocked first-aid kit, blankets, non-perishable food, bottled water, and a phone charger.
Preparing rentals for harsh weather will give you peace of mind through the winter and set up your investment and tenants for a comfortable season. With a little time and effort, you'll ensure your properties are cozy, functional, and protected from seasonal damage. Staying on top of winterizing rentals is key to maximizing your investment year-round.
December Maintenance Tips for Landlords
As a landlord, December is crucial to ensure your rental property is ready for whatever weather winter brings. Here are some tips to keep your investment protected:
Inspect the exterior
Walk around the entire property and check for any signs of damage or needed repairs. Look for cracks in the foundation or siding, leaks in the roof, gutters or downspouts, or broken windows or doors. Address any issues immediately to prevent costly repairs or water damage.
Have a plumber inspect outdoor plumbing, sprinkler systems, and pools or hot tubs. Ensure all water lines are properly insulated, and consider using a freeze-protection system. For indoor plumbing, turn off exterior faucets and water in drains to prevent clogs from built-up residue, and consider a plumbing maintenance plan to avoid frozen or burst pipes.
Improve insulation and heating
Add weatherstripping around doors and windows, check attic insulation, and consider a programmable thermostat to control indoor temperature efficiently. Ensure fireplaces, furnaces, boilers, and space heaters are adequately serviced before use.
During winter, check on your rental property regularly, especially after storms. Look for any new signs of damage or needed repairs to avoid tenant problems and costly fixes. Staying on top of maintenance and any issues will help keep your investment protected all season long.
With preventative maintenance and consistent monitoring, you’ll make it through the winter months worry-free, and your rental property will stay as cozy as ever. Sweet dreams of springtime profits!
Winterizing Plumbing and Pipes
To prevent damage from freezing temperatures, you'll want to winterize the plumbing and pipes in your rental properties thoroughly.
Insulate exposed pipes
Any pipes exposed to outdoor elements should be insulated. You can purchase pre-cut pipe insulation tubing that slips over copper or PVC pipes. For outdoor hose bibs or sill cocks, install insulated covers or wrap heat tape around the pipe.
Remove any garden hoses from spigots. Hoses left attached over winter can freeze and crack the spigot. To be safe, turn off the water supply to outdoor faucets and open the spigot to allow any remaining water to drain.
Check to weatherstrip
Ensure there are no gaps around pipes where they enter the building. Caulk, seal, or reapply weatherstripping around pipes or holes in walls, basements, attics, etc., to prevent drafts.
Let faucets drip
For indoor faucets located along exterior walls, let them drip slightly to prevent freezing. The flowing water, even if just a trickle, prevents water in the pipe from becoming still and freezing.
Check water heater settings
Turn the temperature on water heaters to at least 120°F to prevent freezing. This is especially important if the water heater is in an unheated basement or garage.
Keep an eye on the forecast and temperatures inside unheated areas where plumbing is located. If sub-freezing weather is expected, take extra precautions like letting faucets drip, opening cabinet doors to allow warmth to circulate, or using space heaters temporarily.
Plumbing repairs and water damage can be expensive, so taking measures to winterize pipes and plumbing in your rental property is time well spent. Taking proactive steps to insulate, seal, drip, and monitor pipes will help prevent freezing and ensure your plumbing makes it through winter unscathed.
Clearing snow and ice safely
Clearing snow and ice from walkways, steps, and entryways is important for safety and liability reasons. As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to ensure safe access to and around your rental properties during winter weather.
Identify and treat icy areas
Look for spots where ice often forms, like steps, ramps, walkways, and entries. Apply an ice melt product, like rock salt, calcium chloride, or magnesium chloride, before snow or ice accumulates. Reapply as directed to prevent re-freezing. Sand or kitty litter can also help provide traction.
Clear snow promptly
Aim to shovel snow within 24 hours of accumulation to avoid it becoming a bigger problem. Push snow and ice away from doors, steps, walkways, parking spots, and high-traffic areas. Make paths wide enough for easy access and consider clearing a bigger area than necessary so tenants have more room.
Consider a snow removal service
If shoveling snow yourself isn’t ideal or possible, hire a professional snow removal company to plow and salt/sand your properties. They have the proper equipment and experience to clear snow efficiently while reducing liability risks. Determine if the costs of a snow removal service are worth the time and effort saved and the peace of mind.
Send a notice to tenants advising them to exercise caution when walking on snow and ice and to wear proper shoes. Recommend they allow extra time and walk slowly until all areas have been treated and cleared. You may also want to temporarily restrict access to certain walkways or steps if they appear very icy and dangerous. The most important thing is preventing slips and falls, so safety should come before convenience.
Keeping your rental property clear of snow and ice during winter is key to protecting your investment and ensuring the safety of your tenants. By identifying problem areas, promptly removing snow, applying ice melt, and cautioning tenants, you can feel confident your properties will remain accessible all season.
Managing Tenants During Colder Months
During the colder winter months, it’s important to ensure your rental property and tenants are properly cared for. As temperatures drop, heating systems are turned on, and snow may need to be shoveled, so stay on top of things to avoid any issues.
Check heating systems
Around December, double-check that the heating systems in your rental units are fully functioning. Have an HVAC professional inspect and service furnaces and boilers to ensure no issues before the icy weather hits. Tenants will expect functioning heat, so address any repairs needed right away.
Monitor utility bills
With heating systems running more often, utility bills may increase in the winter. Compare bills from December through February to the rest of the year to ensure reasonable costs based on usage. Work with tenants if bills seem excessively high to determine if there are any issues with the heating systems or if energy efficiency could be improved.
Clear snow and ice
If your area gets snow and ice during the winter, communicate with your tenants about who is responsible for clearing walkways, driveways and any shared outdoor areas. As the property owner or manager, you may be liable for any injuries due to lack of snow or ice removal. Arrange for a professional snow removal service or check that tools like shovels and salt are on hand for tenants or property staff to clear areas as needed.
The winter holiday season from December into January can lead to additional things to consider for your rental property. Check if any tenant parties or gatherings may require extra cleanup. Make sure nothing flammable is left near unattended candles or lights. And be available for any issues as tenants may be traveling or less available over the holidays.
Close monitoring and management allow your rental property investment to stay in tip-top shape even during the colder winter. Staying on top of heating, utility costs, snow removal, and holiday impacts will set you and your tenants up for a cozy winter ahead.
This is your guide to keeping your rental property running smoothly through December. By tackling maintenance issues early, keeping consistent communication with your tenants, and planning for any vacancies, you've set yourself up for success as an investor this winter season. While the holidays can be busy, putting in the work now means fewer headaches and costly repairs. Your tenants will appreciate your diligence, and you'll have the peace of mind of knowing your investment is protected from the elements. Stay warm out there, and remember - an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Keep up the good work; you've got this.