The change of seasons can present problems for rental property owners if they are not prepared. Even though fall officially started a few weeks ago for many homeowners, it doesn’t really start until the temperature starts to drop. It is at this point that the heat may be turned on, windows closed for good or fireplaces used for the first time since last winter. Before you get too close to winter, you need to take the time or spend the money to make sure your property is running efficiently and smoothly. This means making preparations for the change in seasons and staying on top of your property. Make sure you are staying on top of seasonal maintenance for any rental property you may own.
As a rental property owner, the property itself is the biggest asset you have. If you neglect it, soon enough small fixes will turn into big ones and end up costing you more money. The problems will also have a direct impact on the tenants that are in the property. If the heat doesn’t work tonight, it will not be a problem. However, if it doesn’t work in December, you will have to scramble to get it fixed. Something as simple as getting the furnace cleaned today can save you this headache in the future. In most cases, it is the little things that can have the biggest impact down the road.
Before there are leaves all over your yard, you should start with cleaning the gutters. This is one of the many things that should be done every year with a rental property. The half day that you spend can protect your house when the eight inches of snow needs somewhere to go in the winter. You may want to consider replacing old gutters or adding a guard, but since that could be an expensive proposition, at a minimum you need to have the gutters cleaned. If there are leaves from last year coupled with new ones, the water in the gutter will have nowhere to go but back towards the house. This can eventually lead to erosion. If extreme enough, foundational issues or mold problems may occur. Before a small project turns into a big problem, be proactive.
Depending on where your property is located, your tenant may have already turned the heat on. If not, they will probably do so soon. This means you should have the oil tank cleaned, furnace serviced and thermostat checked. For less than a few hundred dollars, you can extend the useful life of these items and ensure that they will work every time your tenants want to use them. Something as simple as cleaning the line of your oil tank can dramatically improve the flow of heat throughout the property. This will decrease the heating or oil bill and increase the chances tenants stay in your property. More often than not, the heating bill will be the biggest expense they will have. It can make the difference whether or not a good tenant wants to live in your property for another year.
This may be jumping the gun, but it is never too early to think about cleaning the fireplace and chimney. There are some landlords who do not want to worry about tenants damaging their property by using fireplace, but if you offer it as an amenity, you had better be sure it works. This means getting the chimney and fireplace cleaned every year. If this is something you haven’t done in a few leases, you will be shocked at just how much residue is in the fireplace. If not properly cleaned, this can eventually lead to smoke, or in extreme cases, fire damage. For the minimal expense it costs to have it cleaned, it is worth doing to prevent any possible damage.
Along with having these major items cleaned and updated, you want to be prepared for the winter months. Unless you live on the west coast, this means being ready to deal with snow. If you have a truck and don’t mind doing the snow yourself, you should have your snow blower in place and make sure it is in working order. If not, you should start calling around to snow removal companies and obtaining quotes. Depending on the number of properties you own and the size of the driveways, the costs could vary greatly. There are many companies that will offer an early bird discount for the season if you commit now and pay for the full year upfront. Even if you don’t commit now, you should have multiple options in place so you don’t have to scramble around on the morning of the first storm. At that point, you will either overpay to have the job done or have a tough time finding anyone at all.
There are many things you can do with any property that you may not need to do, but it is a good idea that you do them. Seasonal maintenance is one of those things that you never know the impact unless you don’t do them. You may think you are wasting money, but you are really increasing the life of your property. Rental properties need to be treated with the same care that you would give to your primary residence. As soon as you start to think your rental will run itself is when you will start to get in trouble. Every season brings new challenges. With fall upon us and winter on the horizon, you need to remember your rental property.