How can landlords best protect their rental properties during the winter?
Extreme weather, as we experience in the lovely Midwest can definitely test and threaten rental homes. What smart moves can landlords make to winterize properties and protect their investments?
Going into winter it is a great time for owners of rental properties to inspect their holdings, take stock of condition and needs, and to ensure they are prepared. Prevention is far better and less costly than trying to fix things after the fact. That applies to all types of severe weather and natural disasters, including harsh seasonal weather.
Make it a habit, and system to routinely schedule property inspections before heading into the worst weather each year.
A part of this is having clear rental lease agreements which define whose responsibility certain items are (landlord or tenant). Then of course making sure you as the landlord have your end covered. That means supplies, contractors, and systems for dealing with maintenance, and responding to emergencies.
A part of routine maintenance and inspection at this time of year is certainly checking the gutters and keeping them clear. Be sure drainage is set up right to keep melting ice and snow flowing away from the property and foundation.
Check roofs for leaks and condition. Check doors and windows for drafts and water tightness. You don’t want unnecessary damage. If you are responsible for utilities this can be an area which creates or depletes cash flow as well.
Check heating. Will the furnace last through the winter? Has the filter been recently changed? Whether it is your responsibility in the lease or not, you certainly don’t want a grandmother or young family freezing in your property.
Cracks in sidewalks or porches or driveways are best fixed before a freeze and thaw which can make these problems and liabilities far worse, and more expensive.
One of the real challenges for real estate investors at this time of year is that they are not local. Either they have been investing from a distance, or they are off to spend the season in sunny/ warmer weather. That’s great, but someone needs to be on hand to keep an eye on the property and respond to calls. Get a property manager and have a plan for how to respond to various issues like the heat going out, slip and falls, and tenants being snowed in.
This is also an ideal time to check your insurance coverage. If your property has gone up in value you may want to raise your coverage. Make sure premiums are up to date.
What are you doing to protect your investments this winter?