While many of us don’t want to admit it, winter will soon be on its way. Most homeowners learn from experience that it’s important to prepare their homes for the colder months well in advance, but many others, such as renters, haven’t had to learn yet.
It’s important as a landlord to properly prepare your rental property before the snow starts to fall. Why? Because it could save you from water damage, frozen pipes, and other costly repairs.
Tenants will also benefit from the process by learning what they should do when they own a home of their own, and ensuring that they are protecting the property from damage to the best of their abilities.
If tenants and landlords work together in creating a winter-ready home, both will have an easier winter overall, and less to attend to when the snow eventually melts.
Where to Start: Talk to Your Tenant
The best place to start is by having a conversation with your tenant. Aside from the things you know you should look at, your tenant may have input on any areas that may need to be looked at, such as drafty windows and doors, and issues with plumbing or drainage.
They’ll be able to offer insight into any problems inside and outside of the home that you may want to repair before the cold sets in.
It will also be a good chance to talk to your tenant about what they need to do to winterize the home, either inside or out, and what you would like to do around the property. Having an open conversation will keep you both on the same page, and help to define which responsibilities are whose.
Make a Landlord and Tenant to-do List
Next, you’ll need to make a list of all of the things that should be done. This should include things like:
- Turn off outdoor water faucets and drain pipes
- Clean gutters
- Insulate doors and windows
- Clean up leaves and clear walkway and parking areas
- Put away any and all seasonal furniture
- Replace furnace filter
- Have the chimney cleaned
Include any other responsibilities that you can think of, and consider whether or not you want to get the furnace cleaned, or any other similar tasks. You will have to decide between who will be required to cover the cost.
In older homes you may need to think about having your tenant use window insulation to make the home more comfortable, and affordable, during the long winter months.
Delegate Landlord and Tenant Responsibilities
When deciding who should be responsible for what aspect of winterization, try to figure out what is reasonable and what is not. Tasks that are not required for comfort or quality of life should be cared for by the renter.
Anything structural that needs to be repaired, that is not due to the fault of the tenant, should be fixed by the landlord unless otherwise stated in a lease.
The tenant may be able to perform some tasks while the landlord provides the materials, such as changing the furnace filter. Find a compromise that works for both parties and be sure to only schedule maintenance and repair when the tenant is given proper notice.
Don’t forget to talk to your tenant about making sure that vents are not blocked by furniture or other items, and that windows should be closed. Although these may seem obvious to you, for someone who is renting a home for the first time, they may not be.
Giving your tenant a friendly reminder will make sure that they’re aware of their responsibilities.
Winterize the Inside and the Outside
Make sure that the outside of the home is taken care of as well as the inside. Take a look at the roof to make sure there are no weak spots, ensure the siding is secured and stable, and that any doors and windows are sealed and insulated.
Aside from the big projects, check that your tenant has kept the yard and walkways clear of debris. While things may be visible in the grass, they will be harder to see when the snow covers them. If they have pets, make sure that they know to clean up after them so that there aren’t any surprises when spring comes.
If you’re responsible for providing salt, sand, shovels, or other seasonal provisions, make sure to get them early and to let your tenant know where to find them.
If your tenant plans to decorate for the holidays, let them know what they can use, and where it is safe to put up lights or hang wreaths. It’s OK to be festive, but if they’re using a staple gun on the eaves troughs or in the siding, they may do damage that will cost you both.
Sit Back and Enjoy the Season
Now that you and your tenant have prepared the property for winter, it’s time to sit back and sip some hot chocolate. Taking care of your rental property before the cold weather hits means that you can relax and spend time doing the things that you want to, instead of caring for property issues caused by below 0 weather.