Thinking about winter maintenance needs for your investment before the season hits can often save you money. An extra benefit is that it can help to keep your tenants happy. If you wait until the rains or winds come and the roof leaks, you will be competing with everyone else to have the work done because roofing contractors are at their busiest. This can mean major delays and higher costs.
When the weather is better, contractors may not charge as much because their workload is lighter and they want more work. Tenants can become unhappy with the inconvenience of a leaky roof but if the problem is severe enough, there can be loss of rent because of uninhabitable or unsafe conditions.
There are many areas where early maintenance can be a benefit. Here are items to consider during summer and fall months to see how you could avoid unnecessary repair expense or tenant problems.
Check in on Heating
Heating is simply a necessity and in the eyes of the legal system, it is a requirement for the health and safety for tenants. You could experience loss of rent if the tenants are without heat for an unreasonable amount of time. Having the heating system checked out yearly before cooler or cold weather hits could avoid bigger maintenance problems and making necessary repairs can prolong the life of the heating unit.
Walls, foundations, windows, doors, and plumbing
Checking walls, foundations, windows, doors, and plumbing can reveal problems with moisture, leaking, cracking, drafts, and more. It is truly important to avoid water and moisture problems that could lead to toxic mold - one of today's biggest liabilities for investors.
Clean Out Gutters
Having gutters and downspouts cleaned and if necessary, repaired after leaves fall and before heavy rains hit can reduce damage and avoid other problems. Many landlords think tenants should do this but it can become a safety issue. Having a qualified vendor handle the problem can be a safer and more cost effective solution.
Have the Roof Evaluated
It pays to have roofs checked for missing materials, hanging branches, and any other damage. Have repairs completed before winter weather hits to avoid unnecessary damage and expense inside of the property. You may not be able to avoid winter storms but the roof may hold up better if maintenance is completed. Proper maintenance can also extend the life of the roof.
Chimneys, fireplaces, and smoke alarms/detectors
If your investment has a fireplace and chimney, having a yearly checkup can prevent fires and/or other safety issues. Of course, a working smoke alarm/detector is an absolute must.
Driveways and sidewalks
Damaged, cracked driveways and sidewalks can be a safety issue. Many times you cannot repair them during bad weather, leaving it open to more liability. Contractors are more likely to give you a better price during better weather.
Porches, patios, decks, retaining walls, fences, and landscaping
Again, these are items where necessary repairs can extend their life. Major tree roots can cause many problems, such as broken sidewalks, raised driveways, and problems with sewers. When possible, avoid these liabilities.
There may not be maintenance problems with your property at this time. However, it pays to review where you could avoid larger expense and liability by addressing them in advance. Start planning for winter maintenance now and as your property management company, we are always here to help you with your investment.
About the Author: Jeff Cronrod is a member of the American Apartment Owners Association board and has more than 40 years of experience as a landlord. Cronrod has owned, rehabbed, developed and managed over 4,000 rental units throughout the United States.