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Winter is here! We’ve prepared a list to help you prepare your rental property for the colder months.
As the infamous line from Ned Stark in the highly watched Game of Throne series goes: “winter is coming”. The foreboding line came with the notion that the colder season brings darker times, particularly the threat of White Walkers.
Thankfully, the prospects of winter in real life aren’t as grim as that in the series.
But the winter months can be a particularly dreary time for rental property owners, as the extreme temperatures can significantly put pressure on the building structure and, in turn, put tenants in danger. If proper precautions are not in place, the colder weather can also cause long-term damage to your property, significantly deteriorating its overall condition and lowering its market value.
We want to help landlords prepare for any extreme weather conditions any season may bring, so in this article, we give you a checklist on how to prepare your home or rental property for winter.
Ways to prepare your rental property for winter
If your unit is located in a building, taking care of your roof won’t be a big issue. However, if you are renting rooms within a house or even an entire house, roof leaks can be a serious problem.
Loose or cracked roof tiles, or other damage to the roof of a house can result in leaking and water damage inside the roof cavity, ceilings and other parts of the property.
With this, make sure to check the roof before the rain and snow begin. And we don’t mean just take a peek at it; it’s important to take precautionary measures as well before the extreme weather sets in.
If possible, getting a watertight roof will do wonders for keeping the heat in, and prevent rotting timbers and/or dampness, as nobody wants their roof collapsing during a windy storm!
Good airflow within a property is important during the winter months. As cooler weather begins to set in, ventilation around key areas of the home tends to suffer.
This is because tenants may become less likely to open a window during or after a shower, for example, and windows in bedrooms may become wet with condensation leading to the growth of mould on curtains or blinds.
Aside from appearing unsightly, mould can become a serious health problem if unaddressed. Landlords and property managers should pay close attention to wet areas during property inspections and act quickly if mould appears to be growing.
Ensure that adequate ventilation is available. Consider installation of extractor fans in bathrooms if not already present.
Also, make sure to inspect every vent before winter comes. Clear any obstructions you may find and make sure there are no small animals in the vents that have decided to make it their home.
If the water heater in your property is faulty (or not working), it’s a good idea to address these issues as soon as possible.
If there’s no hot water, you and your tenants may end up dealing with frozen pipes, which can also be costly to repair. To prevent this worst-case scenario, call a plumber and have them inspect all the pipes to ensure there is no damage and check if any part needs to be replaced. Also, consider adding foam insulation to keep pipes from freezing during the winter.
Having a faulty or malfunctioning heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system during the winter will not make any landlord or tenant happy.
Chances are, your tenants will complain all winter about it, and you as a landlord won’t be hearing the end of it until it gets taken care of.
Remember to clean or replace HVAC filters once a month, or as needed. Make sure to also check and clean the dryer vent, air conditioner, range hood and room fans.
There are plenty of landlord horror stories of tenants setting fire to properties during the winter as they take careless steps to get cozier during the colder months. Yes, we’re talking about tenants that thought it was a smart move to make their own makeshift fireplaces or light up an unhealthy amount of candles inside their rooms.
With that, ensure that all smoke detectors are in good working order. You may need to replace the batteries in appropriate devices as needed, or at least twice each year.
To prevent your tenants from seeking out other sources of heat, it also may be a good idea to have the heating system serviced before winter.
Blocked gutters and downpipes can result in roof and gutter damage, flooding around the exterior of a home, and in severe cases, costly water damage to the interior of a home or its foundations.
It’s therefore recommended to have gutters cleaned of leaves, twigs and other organic build-ups on a regular basis. It’s also advisable to mention to tenants to keep an eye out if the gutters and drainage are working in proper order and to raise any concerns immediately either to the landlord or to the property manager.
Another thing to add to your winter-proofing checklist is to make sure that your windows and doors are in good condition.
Make sure that your windows latch properly or that are there no gaps in the doors when closed. If your windows are loose or your doors do not close properly, the hot air will leave the rooms quickly. This makes it much harder to keep the place warm, and with the increased use of heating systems, monthly utility bills will also go through the roof.
Checking the wall structure of your property and looking for weak spots such as cracks should be a higher priority on a landlord’s winter inspection checklist.
Typically, the areas that could be affected the most are the edges around windows and doors and exterior walls, as these areas are more exposed to the windy side. If necessary, caulking or sealant should be repaired.
If you can, repaint the property before winter to keep dampness out and stop water damage to timber or its overall structure.
Tree branches overhanging a home could pose a danger to both tenants and the property if they fall during a strong wind. Before winter sets in, prune trees and remove dead branches to prevent potential damages or hazards.
By following this simple checklist, it will be easy to maintain the value of your home or investment property, keep costs low, and prevent easily avoidable maintenance over the winter months.
For more tips and expert advice on how to manage your investment property, make sure to check out Smart Property Investment’s Property Management page.
Disclaimer: This is a general guide only and is not intended as a substitute for financial advice.
If you want to learn more about the latest industry expert insights on the property market and other general information that will help you along your investment property journey, check out our amazing podcasts. Also, make sure to check our News section for the latest property market reports, insights, news and useful tips and strategies for investors.
Property management is the act of overseeing the daily operations of a residential, commercial, or industrial real estate property, which are usually provided by third-party contractors.
A rental property refers to homes or apartments used as dwellings for tenants.