Property management in winter is harder than in other seasons because of the weather, and you need to prepare your rental property for winter. Ice, snow, and water cause direct damage to rental properties. Because the days are shorter due to the cold, tenants stay at home more, cook more, use heating and more hot water, and use the lights more.
As a result of all of these winter-specific factors, accidents are more likely to occur. The winter of 2021 will probably see even more severe weather. Winter safety should be a top priority for both rental property owners and property management companies.
Listed below are a few winter property management tips to help you have a successful winter 2020. The following tips are either responsibilities of the property manager or safety tips your tenants should know.
1. Make sure the rental property is prepared for cold weather
In managing seasonal properties, it is important not only to consider changes in tenants’ behavior but also to ensure the rental property is ready for them as well. Your tenants will need heating as the temperature drops in most states. People spend more time indoors during the holidays and use all sorts of electrical appliances, which can cause malfunctions and overload on the systems, especially in multifamily residences.
- Check furnaces, air conditioners, portable heaters, boilers, fireplaces, fuel tanks, and ventilation.
- Ask your property manager to approve any additional heating appliances run by the tenants.
2. Save on Electricity
A well-managed winter rental property can increase a rental’s profitability, especially for short-term rentals. In cases where the heating is included in the rent, you want to keep the costs low. The goal of investment property management is to balance the costs and the rental income for the property owner.
- To prevent heat loss, check all windows and doors for cracks and drafts.
- Ask the tenants to turn off individual heaters or radiators next to a window when it’s open to let fresh air in.
- Change all lightbulbs to the latest energy-saving ones.
3. Take Steps to Eliminate Fire Hazards
During the winter, there are more fires in the home due to families cooking more and using candles for ambiance. A fire can cause a rental property to be severely damaged, bringing on huge repairs and lowering its value, both of which are in the property manager’s best interests.
- Check smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and fire extinguishers.
- Replace any faulty wires and appliances that can start a fire.
- Provide safety tips for cooking – how to bake, roast, grill, etc. safely using the particular appliances provided in the rental property. This can be done with a simple handout info sheet in the mailbox.
4. Get Ice and Snow Clearing Sorted
Winter maintenance is mainly about snowfall. Keeping up with the snow forecast is a useful habit for property managers.
- If it’s a property management duty: make sure you have a contract with a sub-contractor before the next snowstorm hits. Or be ready to shovel as the snow falls to prevent it from freezing over.
- If tenants have to do it: provide snow shovels for each unit.
Remind tenants of the danger of icicles forming on the roof to avoid a lawsuit. You should clean them with a long tool like a broom or a stick so they don’t fall down.
To keep property maintenance simple, some investors choose to avoid the snow problem completely and invest in the New Orleans real estate market and other Southern states.
5. Minimize All Other Winter Risks
Winter property management involves dealing with the elements, reducing the risks for tenants and the property itself.
Rain and winds cause lots of damage to any property, and it’s not just about repairs. Yards are great until they endanger tenant safety. In addition, having a water leak in the house can be especially frustrating during the winter months when it’s harder to dry it.
Important reminder: If tenants are going away, they should turn the water valves off so the pipes don’t freeze and burst.
6. Fight the Formation of Mold
Property management companies do not want preventable damages to lower the value of their properties.
Spaces that are hot and humid are more likely to develop mold – typically bathrooms, laundry rooms, and kitchens. People tend to open their windows less in the winter and moisture accumulates in the corners.
- Install exhaust fans where needed. Clean the outer end of existing ones.
- Remind tenants to use them regularly.
7. Place Rules on the Use of Holiday Decorations
Winter property management includes some watching over your tenants while they have fun.
The electric Christmas lights can easily start a fire and some property management companies ban them altogether. Insist on the use of battery-powered ones that are much safer.
8. Get Your Tenants Ready for Emergencies
No list of winter property management tips would be complete without a few emergency situation warnings. Part of property maintenance is making it easy for tenants to keep things under control until you or a contractor can get there. Some of the most common winter risks include:
- Blown fuse – label the fuse box properly so tenants can quickly locate the problem.
- Power outage – provide flashlights.
- If the rental property has a backup power generator, make sure tenants know how to use it.
During the winter, problems can occur anywhere around your rental investment property and you need to address them quickly. When it’s cold and damp, you don’t have as much time since any damage creates more inconvenience. Additionally, tenants usually don’t leave during the coldest season, so you don’t have time between leases for repairs. It is important to keep all risky areas under close watch in winter to prevent unpleasant surprises.