Winter has begun, and that means property managers have a whole lineup of maintenance upkeep coming their way. Winter weather will cause severe problems at your rental property if you do not take preventative steps beforehand. Preventive maintenance can help to keep everything at your property running smoothly. Here are 10 ways in which property managers can prepare for winter. 

 

1. Have Heating Systems Serviced 

Under landlord-tenant law, access to heat in winter is a fundamental right of all residents, so if your heating units are not working, you could be fined. The city determines the date the heat needs to be available for use by residents, so check with your city laws to determine the city’s exact rental rules. 

It is a good idea to have the heating system serviced at your rental property to prevent any issues before the arrival of winter. You may feel comfortable repairing the boiler yourself, or you may want to hire an external company to do it for you. Either way, get those boilers serviced! 

 

2. Watch Your Pipes 

Prevent frozen pipes this season by adding extra isolation to the exposed pipes in the crawl space, basement, or attic. Drain and shut off the existing faucets and hoses. Educate residents on what to do when the temperature drops, like keeping the thermostat at a consistent temperature. 

Consumer Reports has an excellent article on how to keep your pipes from freezing.  

 

3. Check Seals on Windows and Doors 

If you haven’t already done so, ask residents if you can stop by and check the seals around their windows and doors. It’s always best to do this on a windy day so that it’s easier to determine where there might be air leaks. 

Heating bills can be exacerbated by drafty windows and doors, which you do not want. You will also want to check all windows and doors both inside and outside.  

Look at each frame for any visible holes or deteriorating caulk. Look for weather stripping that is loose or damaged. You will want to repair any deteriorating caulk and replace any damaged weather stripping. Patch as required and, where possible, set up storm windows. 

 

4. Prevent Falling Branches 

 Prevent damage caused by cold or severe weather by trimming trees and shrubs that brush against the walls or windows, looking for dead branches that might fall during a windstorm. 

For the safety of your property and residents, you should inspect all trees around your property or hire a professional. 

 

5. Establish a Plan for Snow Removal 

Determine a snow shoveling and ice clearing system. You can do it on your own within the city’s required time (usually 24 hours after a snowfall), employ an outside company or individual to do it, or coordinate with your people. Either way, make sure that you have an agreement in writing because you could be held liable if someone slips and falls. 

Pack on the salt and make sure that you have a few snow shovels. If the snow and ice removal service is not able to get there quickly enough, people need to be able to clear the way safely. 

 

6. Digital Thermostats 

Make sure that at the start of the winter season, all battery-operated thermostats have a new battery. The residents will have no heat if the battery dies when it’s cold, which could lead the pipes to freeze. A good rule of thumb is to change all batteries twice a year while switching the clocks for Daylights Savings at the same time.  

You can save energy in the winter by setting your thermostat to a lower temperature while you’re away from home.  

 

7. Winter-Proof the Exterior 

Inspect your roofs periodically for ice dams that may affect your roof and cause water leakage. Check for broken shingles or lighting, close any crawlspace vents, and seal any gaps that might allow small bugs to burrow in. 

Inspect the walkways and driveways for cracks and repair them while the weather is still warm to decrease the chances of falling on your house. 

 

8. Clean Gutters 

Make sure that leaves, acorns, or other debris do not clog the gutters on your land. These clogged gutters may prevent the proper drainage of melting snow. This may cause cracks in the roof as the water looks for somewhere to go, or it may cause ice to collect, which may cause a roof to collapse. 

 

9. Inspect Your Deck and Fencing 

Wood is susceptible to any climate deterioration. Check for rot or insect damage, repair any loose steps or railings and consider using a non-slip paint to keep your roof, porch, and stairs slip-resistant under wet conditions. Repair or replace fence pickets that are damaged or missing and ensure secure posts— a windstorm can easily knock loose fencing down. 

 

10. Advise Residents to Keep the Heat On 

Pipes can freeze once the temperatures exceed the freezing point. Therefore, even when they’re on vacation, your residents should never turn off their heat entirely in the winter. You can advise them to set the temperature four to eight degrees lower than they would typically. Doing this will keep the pipes warm while they are away without making the boiler work too hard. 

 

 

Communication is the key to keeping your property and residents safe during the winter. Now is a great time to send out a reminder to residents about ways to keep their costs down and stay warm. The best way to ensure that your property remains as damage-free as possible and that your residents stay warm and safe is by taking these preventative measures. 

 

For more tips on preparing your properties for winter, check out the articles below: 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2018/10/01/use-this-checklist-prepare-your-home-winter/ 

https://www.kiplinger.com/slideshow/real-estate/T029-S001-12-ways-to-prepare-your-home-for-winter/index.html 

https://www.baymgmtgroup.com/blog/10-tips-preparing-rental-property-winter/