How Property Managers Can Prep Properties for Extreme Cold
How Property Managers Can Prep Properties for Extreme ColdHow Property Managers Can Prep Properties for Extreme Cold

How Property Managers Can Prep Properties for Extreme Cold

Create a landlord and tenant to-do list.

This list outlines the repairs that you’ll make in advance of the next cold snap, such as insulating doors and windows. It should also lay out actions for your tenants in the event of a deep freeze, such as keeping the heat above a certain temperature, letting faucets drip to maintain water flowing, and leaving cabinet doors open to expose pipes to warm air. You might also ask tenants to turn off valves to the water heater and pipes if they won’t be home during a weather event; that way, if a pipe does burst, it won’t cause flood damage. Make sure that they know exactly what to do and who to contact if an emergency occurs.

Talk to your tenants.

You’ve likely already started taking precautions to winterize your properties. However, talking to tenants can provide you with valuable info. For example, they can tell you about a faucet that acts up during the winter or a drafty window—things that you couldn’t know otherwise. This information will be crucial in safeguarding your units from weather damage.

Advise tenants to prepare an emergency kit.

Extreme winter weather can lead to power outages and frozen pipes. Tenants should be prepared for extreme cold during these outages. Send them a reminder to keep essentials on hand like flashlights, batteries, non-perishable food, and blankets for power outages; and bottled water and a hairdryer in the event of frozen pipes. You may consider providing rock salt and snow shovels for each of your tenants.

Check in with your vendors.

If you own or manage several rental properties, this is a good time to check in with your contractors—plumbers, electricians, HVAC technicians, snow removal companies, etc. Make sure that contracts are up-to-date, retainers are paid (if necessary), and prices are negotiated before a storm hits. If you wait until the last minute, you’re at the mercy of their pricing during a crisis—and worse, you could be struggling to find a vendor to bail out your tenants.

Review your insurance policies.

It’s always a good idea to take a look at your insurance coverage on a regular basis, this is especially true heading into the winter for certain regions of the country. Be sure that your insurance coverage is enough to cover any major structural issues subject to weather damage. For instance, your policy may cover the fair market value of a new roof, but fair market value declines over time through depreciation. Instead, you may want to look at policies that offer replacement cost coverage.

Keep your vehicle winter ready.

It’s important to winterize your car in the event that you need to make an emergency trip to your properties. Check antifreeze levels, replace fuel and air filters, install snow tires, and check your oil level and weight. (Heavier oils tend to congeal in low temperatures.) Don’t forget to put together an emergency car kit that includes a shovel, ice scraper, flashlight, ice melt, emergency flares, water, and a blanket. In addition, keep kitty litter on hand to give your tires traction on icy patches. You might also encourage tenants to do the same, to be on the safe side.

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