As a rental property owner, you need to be ready for anything at any time. If you live anywhere east of Minnesota. you have had to deal with winter weather for the better part of the last month. Not only has there been an above average amount of snow, but the temperatures have dipped well into the single digits and below. These items can be manageable as your primary residence, but for an investment property you need to pay extra attention. Your rental property can be a great asset, but it can also be a tremendous liability if you do not take care of it.
If you live in the Northeast, it was just a few weeks ago when people were talking about how we escaped the brunt of the winter weather. Well, all this changed – seemingly overnight. Parts of New England now have record snow totals and there is no sign of it letting up anytime soon. Instead of complaining about it and waiting for the next storm to hit, you need to take preventative measures. There is nothing you can do to prevent a storm, but the next best thing is to be as prepared as you can.
Start by establishing an open line of communication with your tenants. You need to be kept in the loop if the snow removal company you use didn’t do an adequate job or if there are potential issues caused from the snow. This could mean anything from water creeping in the basement or moisture appearing on the walls near the exterior. You have to make it clear that you are not looking to blame them for anything instead just trying to make the house as safe for them as possible. It is also a good idea to physically check on any rental property a day or two after a storm, so you can see if there are any issues firsthand.
These issues can be anything from ice pushing tree limps dangerously close to your house or too much snow accumulating on your roof. Many investors will scoff at getting their roof raked or upgrading their insulation, but consider the alternative. Too much snow will cause your roof to take on too much water that can eventually lead to a leak. This will not only cause your tenants to question the property, but will end up being a costly fix. Additionally, you also need to make sure that any frozen gutters are loosened and the flow of water restored. For the cost of having the roof raked and gutters thawed, you can add years to your roof and prevent an even bigger headache.
After an issue happens, it is too late to check on your insurance. You may have escaped a major issue with this storm, but you may not be so lucky for the next one. If you haven’t checked on your insurance and coverage lately, now is a good time to do so. You may be surprised at just what you are and aren’t covered for. If there is excessive water in the basement, your policy may not cover it. As unlikely as it may seem, you are only one big storm away from a snow covered tree falling on your roof or a tenant slipping and falling on the walk. Before the next storm hits, take a look at your insurance and see if you need to make any changes.
It is important that you reach out to your tenants and discuss their insurance options. This should be a conversation you have prior to them moving in, but you need to reiterate that your insurance covers the property and not their personal items. If they want their items covered, they need to have their own specific renters insurance. Some tenants won’t feel they have anything of significant value, but in the event of a blizzard or extreme damage they may come looking at you when something goes wrong.
Winter weather will produce a tremendous amount of wear and tear on your furnace and oil tank. If you thought you could go the year without seasonal maintenance, you may need to reconsider. The cold will cause your furnace to run nonstop. If there is an issue during a storm or shortly after, it may be difficult to find someone to fix it. It is better to spend the money and do everything possible to prevent issues than to do deal with them after the fact. The same is the case in a property with an oil tank. If the tank gets too low ,it will cause the lines to get filled with dirt particles and stop working. If the roads are bad enough and the oil company can’t get out, your tenants could be looking at a day or two without heat.
There is nothing you can do against mother nature. The only thing you can do is to prepare as much as you can. If you take preventative measures before the next storm hits, you can nip many problems in the bud. This will lead to happier tenants and end up saving you money.