Landlording & Rental Properties

Are Your Rental Properties Prepared for Winter?

Expertise: Landlording & Rental Properties
25 Articles Written
house in winter - heating system concept and cold snowy weather with model of a house wearing a knitted cap

We’re in the heart of winter, and storms have been sweeping across the U.S. from California to Massachusetts. Because your rental properties are likely one of your largest investments, it is crucial to take all the possible preventative steps to protect them.

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Snow, ice, high wind, and freezing temperatures can easily cause damage to your property without the proper precautions. Facing issues caused by winter weather and cold temperatures after they’ve occurred puts you at risk for irreversible damage. It’s a much smarter move to consider important precautions before any damage happens.

Taking a proactive and preventative approach to maintenance will ensure that both your rental property and your tenants stay safe during the winter months. Even small, inexpensive adjustments can help secure your property and keep its occupants safe from the elements.

6 Strategies to Keep Your Property Safe & Help Manage Winter Emergencies

1. Inspect the roof.

Replacing or repairing a roof is one of the biggest expenses you'll come across as a real estate investor. Taking the time to properly inspect and maintain the roof at your rental property will help set you up for success.

You can visually inspect the roof yourself for damage or missing materials, but it is important to have a licensed, certified roofing professional perform an inspection yearly. Be sure all gutters are clear of leaves and debris, which can cause water backup and lead to roof damage like ice dams or leaks.

Make sure everyone stays off the roof during slick, freezing weather. But after a big storm, it’s wise to inspect the roof for any potential damage.

apartment community outdoor in winter after snow

2. Schedule HVAC maintenance early.

Check your heating system to ensure that it is in good working condition before it starts working overtime to keep tenants warm. Ideally, you should schedule maintenance with an experienced technician at least once a year to address any issues before they escalate into more significant problems.

Your heating system is crucial to keeping your tenants safe and comfortable during the winter months, as well as providing your property with the heat it needs to avoid major problems like burst pipes. By planning ahead, you won’t have to worry about your HVAC system malfunctioning in the middle of a bad storm.

Related: 7 Ways to Land Hot Deals in Cold-Weather Markets This Winter

3. Weatherproof what you can.

Plan out preventative winter maintenance to prevent pipes from bursting, fixtures from breaking, and moisture from seeping in. Weatherproof and seal windows and doors to insulate against winter weather and improve heating efficiencies for your tenants.

Seal outdoor water spigots, drain and turn off irrigation systems, and disconnect all garden hoses. Insulate any pipes that lead into the house if they are not below ground.

Pay attention to trees and other landscaping at your rental property that could present a hazard after a buildup of snow and ice. Trim limbs away from any structures or walkways, and keep an eye out for weak or dying branches.

4. Stay in touch with your tenants.

There is only so much you can do to prepare as a rental property owner, especially if you don’t live in the same area as your investment properties. Your tenants need to do their part, but it is your responsibility to keep them updated and informed about their expected participation in tasks like snow removal.

The snow is swirling around a family home snowed in after a snow storm.

Schedule a seasonal reminder or newsletter to offer advice, tips, and requirements for tenants during the winter months. Consider including heating tips, reminders for winter, and advice to help them manage winter storms. Clearly spell out any issues or concerns that you would like to be notified of right away to avoid preventable and unnecessary damage.

Pay attention to weather alerts and community warnings to keep yourself and your tenants informed and up to date. It’s a good idea to subscribe to the Emergency Alert System and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radio to stay informed of emergency alerts and action items.

Related: Tips for Renting Property During the Slow Winter Months

5. Prevent slips and falls.

The safety of your tenants and their guests should be top of mind during the slippery winter season. Remove potential slipping or tripping hazards like organic debris in walkways or holes in the lawn. Consider installing textured walkways and entryways to help with traction if your property is in a location that regularly experiences winter weather. Clearly instruct tenants on who is responsible for snow removal and acceptable de-icing measures.

Don’t forget about handrails! This time of year it is especially important to make sure they can support an adult who is struggling to keep their balance.

6. Update your insurance policy.

Update your insurance policy to make sure you will be protected against any unforeseen damage caused by winter weather. Encourage your tenants to invest in renters insurance to make sure their own belongings are protected. Unfortunately, even when you are fully prepared, sometimes the weather can still cause unexpected damage to rental properties, which can mean a hit to your profits and investment, so make sure you are covered in case of a worst-case scenario.

Property maintenance and tenant safety is vital any time of year, but during the months with notoriously inclement weather, it should be your top priority as a real estate investor. If you live somewhere prone to winter weather and even winter emergencies, then preparing ahead of time will help you protect your rental properties and your tenants. Careful planning and preparation will go a long way in preventing a disaster.

Is there anything you’d recommend adding to this list of winter preparations?

Comment below!

Aside from being a landlord and real estate investor himself, Nathan founded Rentec Direct, a software company that serves the rental industry. Today he works with over 13,000 landlords and proper...
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    Layla Sewell
    Replied 9 months ago
    The challenge becomes trusting these folks not to up charge you when you have them do routine inspections. HVAC folks are notorious for saying you need to replace a whole system when you really don’t.
    Pete Barrow Investor from Indianapolis, IN
    Replied 9 months ago
    Freezeproof outdoor hose bibbs are a good investment. Tenants are NOT going to remember to shut off and drain the bibb before winter.
    Brian Ploszay Investor from Chicago, ILLINOIS
    Replied 9 months ago
    Get extra furnace filters for your tenants. Sometimes they are not able to change them, so you will need to service these furnaces several times during a winter.
    Lynn Boelkow
    Replied 8 months ago
    What responsibility does the landlord or the tenant have to remove the snow from the sidewalks and in front of their garages in Wisconsin.