If you own rental properties, one of your primary responsibilities as a landlord is property maintenance. During the winter, maintaining your properties can be time-consuming, especially if you live in an area with unpredictable weather. Here are some winter management tips that can make your life easier while also increasing the safety and happiness of your tenants.
1. Invest in some season anti-icing treatments for parking lots.
If you own a property with multiple units, it's your job to keep parking areas clear for tenants. If you get the parking lot treated every so often during the season, the snow will melt more easily during snow events, which will greatly reduce your overall workload. Treatments need to be reapplied after frost or snowfall or two. Get in touch with an anti-icing company such as Seattle Snow to learn more about these treatments.
2. Contract snow removal.
Another common-sense solution to managing multiple properties is to contract out snow removal so that you are never left in a bind trying to manage it all yourself. Even if you rent out single-family homes, it might be worth it to still have a snow removal company on speed dial. For example, if you are on vacation and can't do the snow yourself, or if the people you rent to cannot remove snow because of a disability, having another company who can provide this service ensures that snow and ice stay at safe levels. If you rent out a complex of apartments or a duplex, you should make sure that you plan on taking care of common or shared spaces, such as a clubhouse walkway. Remember that handicap parking spaces must also be completely clear of snow and ice.
Contracted snow removal services help to reduce your personal liability. If a tenant is injured because of snow or ice buildup in common areas, such as a parking lot, walkway, or stairway, you could be liable for the financial ramifications of those injuries.
3. Increase tenant responsibilities when possible, but be aware of exceptions.
You can contractually obligate your tenants to do their own snow removal. This is a good solution when possible, but just remember that some tenants will not be able to meet this obligation, and you might not be able to compel them to do so. A tenant in a wheelchair, for example, has a right to rent with reasonable accommodation. Snow removal is a reasonable accommodation and not a reason to discriminate when leasing.
4. Clean gutters and check roofing each fall.
In order to make your properties don't incur expensive winter damage, consider hiring a roofing company to clean the gutter each fall. That way, when snow falls or melts from the roof, it doesn't also freeze in the gutters because the flow is blocked by leaves and other debris. The weight of the ice in the gutter can tear them from the roof can cause damage to soffits and eaves. The buildup of water from the gutter can eventually cause water to wick under the shingles of the roof, leading to indoor leaks.
5. Leave instructions for vacationing tenants.
Finally, don't forget to include vacationing instructions in part of the lease agreement. Too many properties become damaged from plumbing problems due to tenants not knowing how to properly leave their home empty when they are vacationing or visiting family. The thermostat should always be over 50 degrees to prevent water from freezing in indoor plumbing, and you might even require them to turn the water heater down and to leave a tap dripping if there is basement plumbing, since basement plumbing is more susceptible to damage in winter weather.
For more information, contact a local snow removal company.