Adventures in Property Management

Preparing Vacant Rental Properties for Winter Weather

Ben Ginther - Friday, November 8, 2019
Property Management Blog

Depending on your geographic location, you may have already had your share of winter weather, even snow. Being in the south, West Georgia to be exact, we are just now preparing for our first taste of freezing temperatures for the year. But, no matter where you are, or what the temperature is today, it’s always a smart property owner/landlord move to know how to properly care for your home, and be prepared for, when the temperatures do drop.

In a recent Propertyware article, author Kurt Jacobson gives some helpful tips on how to care for your vacant home in the midst of winter weather in a blog called, “11 Ways to Get Your Rental Properties Ready for Winter.” Here are his recommendations:

  1. Leave the Heat On - Remind your tenants to maintain a minimum temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit when they go on vacation. This will prevent the pipes from freezing and bursting due to the cold temperatures
  2. Inspect Your HVAC Systems - Inspect the heating and air-conditioning systems in your units to make sure they are running efficiently. Arrange for the filters to be replaced if necessary.
  3. Watch Your Pipes - Completely drain out the outdoor pipes and sprinkler/fountain systems to ensure they don’t freeze in sub-zero temperatures. As an added precaution, winterize exterior plumbing and pipes in unheated parts of the property or common areas such as clubhouses by covering them with inexpensive foam pipe insulation.
  4. Look for Cracks - It's important to inspect the edges of doors and windows and the exterior walls of your properties for gaps or cracks through which heat loss can occur. Replace caulking or sealant as needed.
  5. Inspect the Roof - Check the roof and chimney for broken or cracked shingles that can come loose during a storm. Since blocked gutters can cause snow dams and ceiling leaks on warmer days, make sure that the gutters and downspouts are completely clear and free of dirt and debris. You can also hire a qualified roofing contractor to perform a complete check of the roofing and do necessary repairs.
  6. Prepare for Snow and Ice Removal - If you have contracted snow and ice removal to a vendor, confirm that your contract is current and valid. Now is also the time to call and shop around for rates if you were unsatisfied with their performance last year.
    If you have your own personnel to handle snow removal, make sure you have all essential supplies such as salts, shovels and properly functioning snow blowers on hand. Don’t wait until bad weather comes knocking to take action!
  7. Prevent Falling Branches - Check for any weak tree branches (or trees!) that can fall due to high winds or snow accumulation and cause property damage, or worse, injure your tenants.
  8. Clean Your Chimneys - If your property has wood-burning fireplaces, hire a professional chimney sweep to clean them and inspect them for any sign of damage or obstruction.
  9. Test Alarms and Detectors - If maintenance of the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in the property is your responsibility as per the lease agreement, now would be a good time to test the devices and replace the batteries.
  10. Check Vacant Properties - Conduct periodic inspections of vacant properties throughout the winter. If you are responsible for taking care of a vacation home that will be empty for the season, you may want to completely turn off the water supply, drain the pipes and toilets, and put non-toxic antifreeze in the toilet bowls.
  11. Don't Forget Your Rental Office - Remember to make sure that your on-site rental office and common areas such as clubhouses are also equipped to deal with the winter weather.

Don't let a busted pipe prevent you from filling a vacancy in the winter! To view the full Propertyware post, click here.