Winter is Coming! The Investor’s 7-Point Checklist to Prep Rental Properties for Colder Months
Winter is around the corner, and if you’re in real estate, that means it’s time to get ready for it. If your property is in a place that is at the mercy of cold winds, snow, and ice, now is the time you start preparing it for the upcoming colder season. Taking some time out to do your winter maintenance and repair work will save you a lot of money later down the road when issues start piling up. And in a couple of months, as you’re getting ready for Christmas, I’m guessing being bothered by your tenant complaining about some property issues isn’t one of the joys you’re looking forward to.
Want more articles like this?
Create an account today to get BiggerPocket's best blog articles delivered to your inboxSign up for free
So before it’s too late for preventive maintenance, you have some work to do. Here are a couple of things you can do to prepare your rental property for the coming winter season.
The Investor’s 7-Point Checklist to Prepare Rental Properties for the Coming Winter
Keep an emergency kit handy before winter hits.
September and October are the perfect months to prepare yourself for winter maintenance. Before you actually start maintenance work on your rental property, it’s always a good idea to at least prepare an emergency kit for your house and advise your tenants to do the same, especially if they’re not from the same area and might not be expecting things to get rough. Essential items like snow shovels, fire extinguishers, flash lights, batteries, heavy duty plastic sheeting and duct tape can prove very handy indeed. Stocking up on plenty of rock salt is pretty helpful as well.
Get on a biannual inspection schedule.
Properties undergo a lot of wear and tear due to changing weather. If you don't perform a biannual inspection schedule for your property, you might end up getting a lot of unpleasant surprises. For do-it-yourself landlords, it is a big task to take care of. But if you want to do away with the hassle of doing it yourself, you can actually hire a professional to inspect your house every six months. The inspector will inspect the HVAC systems, check for faulty ducts or vents, replace filters, and look at the plumbing and smoke detectors. Especially if you're new to property investing, this is a very viable option. These guys usually know what they're talking about.
Clean the gutters.
It is very important to keep the gutters clean before fall sets in. Clogged rain gutters won’t let water drain from the roof properly, which might lead to a damaged roof. During the fall, leaves start making their way onto our roofs and get washed into our gutters. Clear out any leaves from the drain and remove sticks and any other material. After cleaning it out, if the gutter design allows for it, it makes sense to put a gutter guard in so debris doesn’t go into the gutter but stays on top where it’s easy to remove. Also, remove any leaves from your walkway, as wet leaves can be very slippery.
Trim branches and shrubs.
Oftentimes, thin and long tree branches succumb to the weight of the falling snow and break off to fall down. This can result in them blocking the walkway and the driveway or even damaging your property. Check for trees around the perimeter of the house, and if you see some long, weak branches, remove them.
Insulate doors and windows.
Check for areas between the doors and windows where heat can escape. A simple trick is to light a candle and move it slowly around gaps and cracks. Also, inspect the areas where the window meets its frame. As soon as the flame starts flickering, you’ll know something’s up. Check it out, and if you need to make a repair, now’s the time. It will lower your tenant’s energy bill but also reduce the chance of damage to the property.
Inspect the chimney.
If your house has a fireplace and your tenant relies on wood to keep the house warm, make sure you get them cleaned before winter. It’s best to hire a professional to check if anything needs to be done to the chimney to make it operational and safe. And even when you don’t have a chimney, make sure your property has a smoke alarm installed. Even if it’s not a requirement, it’s a very small investment and can prevent some serious damage to your property.
Check the roof.
If this is a new property, it makes a lot of sense to make sure the roof is in good condition. You might have already checked it before, but it’s a bad idea to leave any maintenance work until after winter.
Changes in weather can pose a real problem to property owners if they haven’t prepared themselves well in advance. A rental property not only needs winter maintenance; it needs seasonal maintenance in general. A regular inspection and maintenance will save you a lot of grief later on. It is not only cost effective, but it extends the life your property and lowers maintenance costs over time as a consequence. Usually, property owners go for spring maintenance and fall maintenance. Spring maintenance includes inspecting air conditioning units, clearing off gutters and drains, removing insulation from pipes, pruning trees and shrubs, inspecting roof tops, and uncovering sprinklers and outdoor furniture.
Your property is the biggest asset you have. Take care of your rental property as you would your residential property. By doing seasonal maintenance, you are actually increasing the life of your property.
Investors: What would you add to this checklist?
Leave your comments below!