Use these winter property management tips to plan ahead for a worst-case scenario even if the forecast is mild and you and your tenants will come out ahead.
Winter is probably the toughest season for property management, unless you live in a locale that has mild or virtually no winter at all. But if you have water, snow, and ice to contend with, you must guard against damage to your rental properties. Tenants tend to stay at home more during the winter months, cooking more, using more hot water, heating, and lighting.
All this can create a scenario where more accidents and/or breakdowns occur. Global warming and climate changes also contribute to more variables. That’s why winter safety should be a top priority for both rental property owners and property management companies.
Here are a few winter property management tips to help you through the 2021 winter season. Some of the tips relate to property management in general and some are good safety tips for everyone to know.
1. How to Prepare Rental Property for Cold Weather
Seasonal property management means taking into account the changes in the tenants’ behavior and making sure the rental property is prepared for those lifestyle changes.
Most winter weather, especially in the northern states, mean your tenants will need heating. Also, people spend more time indoors during the holidays, using all sorts of electrical appliances, which can lead to malfunctions and overload on the systems especially in larger households.
- Check furnaces, AC units, portable heaters, boilers, fireplaces, fuel tanks, and ventilation.
- Ask the tenants to let you or your property manager know about any additional heating appliances so you can be sure they are safe.
2. How to Save on Electricity
Winter property management done right can have a positive effect on a rental’s profitability, especially for short-term rentals. Where the heating is included in the price, you want to keep rental property expenses under control. Investment property management is about balancing the costs and the rental income for the property owner.
- Check all windows and doors for cracks and drafts to prevent any heat loss.
- Ask the tenantsto 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. How to Eliminate Fire Hazards
Most domestic fires happen during the winter season because families cook more and use candles for ambiance. A fire can cause huge damage to a rental property, bringing on big repair expenses and driving the price of the property down.
Check smoke and carbon monoxide alarms as well as fire extinguishers. If possible, put some penalty fees in the lease contract in case tenants deactivate alarms on purpose.
- 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.
- Recommend ceramic heaters for heating areas of the house.
4. How to Manage Ice and Snow
Winter maintenance in the north is mainly about snowfall. Keeping track of snow forecasts is a useful habit for rental property owners and managers. The snow cleaning can be included as an extra service in what you charge for rent or it can be stated as the tenant’s responsibility in the lease so make sure to enforce it. In the southern states is usually more about rain and sometimes ice.
- If you’re a rental property owner, make sure you know contractors who can handle these jobs before the next winter storm hits.
- If tenants shovel snow, provide snow shovels for each unit.
- To save yourself a lawsuit, remind tenants of the danger of icicles forming from the roof. The best way to clean them is by using a long tool like a broom or a stick so they don’t fall down and hurt anyone.
5. How to Minimize Other Winter Risks
In the winter, property management mainly deals with the elements, trying to minimize the safety risks for tenants and the rental property itself.
Rain and winds can cause lots of damage to any property and it’s not just the repair costs. Yards are great to have until they are a threat to tenant safety. Also, having a water leak in the house can be especially unpleasant during the winter season when it’s harder to dry it up.
Include these responsibilities in your lease agreement, stating tenants are responsible for:
- removing dangerous tree branches and any unstable old trees in the yard
- securing and cleaning rainwater pipes and gutters
- cleaning water collectors and yard drains
- checking roof for leaks
6. How to Fight the Formation of Mold
Avoiding preventable damages will add to the value of your property.
Mold forms in hot and humid spaces – that’s usually bathrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens. In winter, people open windows less often and moisture builds up in the corners.
- Install exhaust fans where needed. Clean the outer end of existing ones.
- Remind tenantsto use them regularly.
7. How to Ensure Safe Use of Holiday Decorations
The electric Christmas lights can easily start a fire and some rental property owners ban them altogether. Rather than ban them, insist on the use of battery-powered ones that are much safer. Holiday lighting can be festive and safe.
8. Help Tenants Be Prepared for Emergencies
Make it easy for your tenants to keep things under control until you or a professional contractor can arrive. 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 winter, problems can pop up anywhere around the rental investment property and you have to fix them fast. If you’re a rental property owner and would like help with the stress of property management, contact Cousin James Management. We’ve been professionally managing property, both residential and commercial, in North Texas for over 25 years. Our family-owned business would love to help make your rental property ownership experience a success. Contact us soon. We’re here to help.