Protect your investment by conducting routine maintenance on your rental properties. Here are some tips to prepare your properties during fall for the winter ahead:
- Check-in With the Tenants.
It’s important to consistently check-in with tenants, and ensure that they are maintaining the rental unit to lease standards. Seasonal maintenance remains the perfect time to inspect the unit for issues that should be addressed. Ask tenants if they have questions or concerns, and remind them of tenant duties such as changing the HVAC filter or the smoke detector batteries. Checking in also remains the best way to establish open communication. Good communication remains the foundation of a healthy tenant-landlord relationship. Not to mention, when a tenant feels that there is a direct line of communication, they are much more likely to report on a minor but time-sensitive issue before it becomes an expensive repair.
- Indoor Maintenance.
Windows and Doors – Apply weather stripping or caulk to any needed areas along windows and doors.
Fireplace – If the property has a fireplace, ensure that the chimney is swept and free of debris. A blocked chimney is an easily avoidable fire hazard and smoke inhalation risk. Install animal-proof chimney caps to further prevent blockage from nesting critters.
Smoke and CO2 Alarms – Regardless of whether you require your tenants to change the batteries, it is crucial to check that they have indeed kept up with the task, and moreover, did not remove them altogether. Ensure your tenant’s safety – and your legal protection – by ensuring that the alarms are in working order.
Attic – Check the attic’s insulation. Poor insulation can lead to expensive roof repairs. Inspect for signs of small animals.
- Exterior Maintenance.
Gutters – Fall leaves can lead to clogged gutters and can create ice dams in freezing weather. Trim trees or install gutter guards where necessary to ensure that your gutters will appropriately channel water away from the property to prevent water damage to the foundation or structure.
Animal Proofing – Attics and basements are very enticing to rodents and small animals who seek shelter from the cold weather. Caulk small holes and staple hardware cloth over larger holes. To stand up to stronger animals opt for 16 gauge 1 x 1 steel mesh.
Stairwells, Walkways and Patios – Verify that all supports, stairs and handrails are secure. Make sure that the handrails can support a person who is slipping due to rain or sleet.
Irrigation Systems – Winterize sprinkler systems and hose bibbs.
AC Units – Wrap the outside box units to protect them from rust or weather damage.
Trees and Shrubs – Trim branches and vegetation that touches the exterior of the building.
- Hire a Professional.
For some costly items on your list, it will pay to have a professional inspect them. Big ticket items like your HVAC system and your roof should be inspected yearly to ensure that any slight damage is dealt with proactively, before a serious issue occurs.
HVAC – Have it serviced, cleaned and inspected.
Roof – Extreme temperatures, and general exposure to the elements can wreak havoc on your property’s roof. Have a licensed, certified roofing professional inspect the condition of the roof and proactively make repairs. Simple repairs like loose or damaged shingles can lead to water exposure that can lead to deterioration of insulation, wood and drywall and can even make electrical or plumbing systems vulnerable.