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Billiant Tips for Landlords During the Winter-Spring Transition

March 20, 2017

Spring is on its way! In most places, that is.

But even though the flowers will soon be blooming and there’s an unmistakable feeling of springtime in the air, we’re not out of the woods yet. Early spring brings with it a number of challenges –and you’ll want to ensure that your properties are prepared.

Rapidly dropping temperatures and unexpected storms can still occur, and spring is often a time where there’s an excess of water –both from rain storms, and melting snow, both of which can present a flood risk; and if left unchecked, can even lead to water damage, and even foundation troubles.

If you’re hoping to prevent early spring weather from giving your rentals the ‘cold shoulder,’ here’s a look at some things that you’ll want to do to keep your properties in great shape and safe from anything that this often-unpredictable season decides to throw your way!

Watch Out for Melting Snow
Warmer temperatures are welcome after the long, cold winter months –but thawing snow can present a problem if your rental’s drainage isn’t up to scratch. To prevent damage from melting snow, you’ll want to ensure that you have a system for directing water away from the house. Mounds of snow around the house, and downspout runoff can cause flooding around the foundation of a home –and lead to extensive damage. If you’re in an area that gets a consistent amount of snow or rain, you may want to consider attaching a sloped leader to your downspout to direct the run-off from the roof at least ten feet away from the home.

Check Drains and Gutters
Speaking of water, you’ll want to ensure that your drains and gutters are prepared for a potential deluge of rain. If you’re leery to climb up on the roof in a snowstorm –we understand! But when the weather clears, you’ll want to check and clean the drains and gutters, or call someone to do it for you. Ideally, gutters should be cleared twice per year, in the spring and fall. You may also want to consider having gutter screens installed –a simple way to keep the leaves out.

Spring Clean
Now is also the time to do a good, thorough spring clean at your rental property. This means trimming back all of the overgrown trees and shrubbery –as well as making sure there’s no unwanted debris scattered around the property. You may also want to wash the vinyl siding, patch up holes in concrete or pavement, and clean the exterior windows and repair or replace torn or damaged screens.

Check the Pipes
Winter can cause pipes to freeze and burst, and spring is a good time to ensure that the external pipes at the property are all free from damage, and leaks. You’ll also want to check the faucets to ensure that they’re still working as well.

Leave the Heat On
If your rental is sitting empty, the logical solution may seem to turn the heat off. But don’t touch that thermostat yet! Cutting off the heat completely will put your rental at risk of frozen and burst pipes –and you’ll want to keep the heat on, albeit on a very low setting, during the colder months.

Consider the Insulation
Proper insulation is vital –during the cold season, as well as the hot summer months; and you’ll want to ensure that there’s adequate insulation behind the walls, and in the attic at your rental. Upgrading old insulation can often pay for itself in reduced energy costs if you’re paying the utilities, and –if your tenants cover them, they’ll appreciate this savings as well. You’ll also want to make sure there are no entry points where the cold can seep in. Check for drafts, and consider investing in some draft excluders for windows and doors. If you see gaps between siding and the window or door frames that are bigger than the width of a nickel –you’ll also want to apply exterior caulk.

Have Your Furnace Serviced
Winter’s on the way out, but for most of us, there are still a few chilly days ahead! To help save your rental’s furnace from unexpected problems, you’ll want to ensure that it’s serviced, at least once per year. Ask the technician to look for any problems, and to check to ensure that the furnace is still running efficiently. If you have a chimney, you’ll also want to have that cleaned annually to reduce the chance of a chimney fire.

Check the CO2 Detectors
Here’s an easy one to knock off the list! CO2 detectors are important –especially in homes with fuel-burning appliances, such as stoves and furnaces, as well as attached garages. If you don’t have a system in place currently, you may want to consider checking both the CO2 detectors and the smoke detectors when the clocks go forward or back, to ensure they aren’t forgotten. You should also check the alarms in between tenancies –and make sure your tenants know that they should notify you whenever the alarms appear to be faulty.

Plan for Emergencies
No one wants to think about emergencies –but keeping a list of reliable contractors on hand is a good idea –especially during the colder months. If the furnace stops working or a pipe bursts at your rental, knowing who to call will allow you to take steps to address the issue right away, saving your rental from being without heat or water for too long.

Prepare Your Tenants
While this doesn’t mean that you have to provide them with blankets and warm winter clothing, you will want to take the time to ensure that your tenants are aware of the potential damage that winter can cause –and understand the importance of informing you at the first sign of trouble. Once the snow starts to melt, and things begin to thaw –damage is usually easier to spot. So make sure your tenants know what to look for. Common problems include leaks or issues with faucets not working, as well as chilly drafts –which could indicate insulation issues, or problems with the heating system. Finally, have your tenants remain on extra alert for rodent or pest infestations, cold weather often drives these unwelcome intruders indoors.

With rentals, preventative maintenance is the name of the game. Save yourself from emergency call-outs, and help prevent unexpected issues from arising by taking the time to ensure that your rental is in good condition. If time of the essence –you may want to consider hiring a property management company to oversee your rental for you. An experienced, reputable property manager will be able to handle all of the maintenance and repairs tasks; keeping an eye on your rentals to ensure that they’re being looked after. This will allow you to rest assured knowing that your properties are ready for anything –come rain or shine!

Curious about whether a property manager is right move? Check out What a Good Property Manager Should Do for You. Or, get in touch with a Renters Warehouse reputable property manager in your area today. We will be happy to answer any of your questions with a free no-obligation phone consultation.