Being a first time landlord can be much more work than anticipated, particularly once the weather turns cold. There are many hidden expenses to be aware of—and ignoring any of these things could leave your tenants angry and you liable.
Now that winter is upon is, keep your property safe for your tenants by ensuring the following is taken care of all season long.
Related Read: 5 Things Every First-Time Landlord Should Know
Inspect the pipes and service the boiler
Frozen pipes are one of the worst fears a landlord has, due to the extensive damage a burst pipe can create. Flooding and water damage can be a costly issue to repair, but you can help avoid this issue from happening by ensuring all outdoor pipes are properly clad and any fissures or cracks are repaired.
While you’re at it you should service the boiler. This not only keeps your tenants warm but helps prevent the pipes from freezing over.
Keep entrances and walkways free of ice and snow
As the property owner it is your responsibility to keep walkways and entrances safe and free of ice. Salt them frequently and shovel snow whenever necessary.
Gutters should be cleaned
Leaves and debris can block your gutters, leading to water accumulation and ice to form as the weather gets colder. Keeping them clear will help prevent frozen pipes and overflow issues.
Ensure heating systems are working properly
The furnace and heating system should be inspected, serviced and cleaned every year as the winter season begins to ensure everything is functioning well and in working order. This helps extend the life of your furnace, postponing the need to replace the entire system.
Expect a larger hydro bill
Since people spend more time at home cooking and watching TV in the colder months, and it is darker for longer, hydro bills are always higher in the winter. Not to mention the large expense that comes with heating the home. If your tenants are not paying the hydro bill themselves, you should be prepared for the extra cost. Making the unit as energy efficient as possible before the season hits will help offset this increase.
Invest in good insulation
This is the best way to make your home more energy efficient. Cold air getting in will cause your tenants to crank the heat up or use a space heater. Ensuring the unit is properly insulated will be expensive up front, but worth it in the long run.
Outside lighting should be working properly
Good lighting is incredibly important in the icy winter months. Having a tenant slip on some ice because they couldn’t see it leaves you at fault. Check all the outdoor lightbulbs and keep an eye on them to ensure they are swiftly replaced as soon a bulb burns out.
Inform you tenants about anything they need to know
Teach them where the boiler is and how to use it. Let them know about keeping the heating on low if they are going on vacation for a few days, to ensure the pipes don’t freeze over. Remind them to change the filters in the furnace to prevent HVAC issues. An informed tenant is the best tool you have in keeping your property running smoothly. They don’t want to deal with an issue like a burst pipe any more than you do.
If it is not currently being rented, be sure to keep a frequent eye on it
An empty unit can degrade fast. Visit at least once a week so you can take care of any tasks a tenant would usually be looking after.