Winter continues to march on steadily toward that long-awaited day in March where it can officially be considered ‘over.’ In the meantime, though, most of us have to deal with the unpleasant weather that comes in the early months of the year. The intensity of the cold and the amount of time it sticks around depend on which state you live in, but everyone should know how to prepare properties for the cold to prevent damage and other issues.
Safety First: Prepare Properties for the Cold
If you’ve never had weather-related issues in the past, then you might not see the value in spending time and money prepping for winter weather. However, it’s a worthwhile investment, considering that problems can arise at the drop of a hat. “For many landlords and property managers, it means bracing for the impact that snowstorms and extreme temperatures can have on rental properties,” so at least read up a bit on what might happen to your property in this season so that you know what to do if that occurs.
Do you know the signs of frozen pipes? Are you familiar with the term ‘ice dam?’ If not, you need a bit more education on some winter issues that should be covered to keep your building safe. Unfortunately, a lot of people have to learn from experience, but by then it’s too late to prevent the damage.
To really prepare properties for the cold, you should begin by talking to residents or tenants. If you’re all on the same page, your job will be easier. Since it’s already February, you’ve (hopefully) “taken standard precautions to winterize your properties, from clearing leaves from gutters to having HVAC systems inspected.” If not, then look into which of those activities you can reasonably accomplish at this point in time that will be worthwhile. Additionally, speaking with your renters on a personal level can help you to suss out any additional problems that they may be having. For example, a leaky faucet can cause big issues if it becomes cold enough to freeze the water, but you wouldn’t know about the leak without their say-so.
By this point, you likely have quite a few things to take care of. Make a list that details “the repairs that you’ll make in advance of the next cold bout, like insulating doors and windows or wrapping basement pipes with electric heating cords.” Having everything written down (or typed) in one place will help you to keep track of these to-dos. Looking at this list could also help you to develop some guidelines for your renters so that they can adjust their practices in the winter months in order to avoid generating issues. It may be that these things simply didn’t occur to them before, but nobody wants a major incident, so they’ll likely be happy to comply and to keep you abreast of any potential problems as they arise.
Though it depends on the type of property and the inclusions of the lease, you may be responsible for your residents/tenants heating. Whether this means the thermostat or their hot water, make sure that the systems behind these utilities are up and running… and updated. If part of your machinery is on the brink of collapse going into winter, then you may find yourself with complaints about freezing offices or cold showers. Even more important than a chilly inconvenience is the safety of everyone who is present on site. If anyone uses devices like portable heaters, then you should remind them of safe practices, such as ensuring that the heaters are set to a reasonable temperature and are always turned off and unplugged at the end of the day. This is just one precaution of many, but they are all crucial.
Part of what you convey to those who live or work on your property should be worst-case-scenario guides and “emergency kits” to help everyone to be ready for anything. To really prepare properties for the cold, everyone involved needs to have an understanding of what to do in various situations in order to keep things up and running. Without a solid system of communication, this can’t happen. Whether you are dealing with a complete power outage or flooded units as a result of burst pipes, your renters expect solutions, and fast. Will you be ready?
Did you know that Budgetrac Property Management Software can increase operational efficiency with online and mobile solutions? That is, while you’re getting your property ready for the cold and keeping everyone safe, Budgetrac’s software can manage all of your leases and additional information. Let this system handle the little details so that you can put all of your attention into the investments that matter.