Technically, the first day of winter isn’t until December 21. In actuality, the freezing temperatures and blankets of snow arrive much sooner than that in Alberta. As a landlord in this chilly province, you need to know how to handle all the icy curveballs that this never-ending season throws at us. Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been running your investment property for a few years, there’s always room to improve your processes, decrease safety hazards, and increase your profit. Read on for our top 8 winter property management tips.
1. Clean the gutters.
Our autumn season may be brief, but it comes with a flurry of leaves, broken branches, and other debris that collects quickly in gutters. Right now this may not seem like a problem, but once the inevitable snow starts to melt, this will backup drainage and increase the risk of a flood in spring. Sweep up and dispose of all the detritus before it becomes an insurance claim in the new year.
2. Winterize those pipes.
The last thing you need is a call from your renter telling you that their pipes have frozen, or worse, burst! When this happens, you must work fast to ensure your tenant has access to running water in a reasonable amount of time. In the dead of winter, a fix like this is expensive and potentially dangerous. Winterize the pipes before they risk freezing to protect your property and your tenant.
3. Set clear decor guidelines.
Several different cultures and religions have their biggest celebrations in the wintertime. From Christmas to Kwanzaa, many celebrants love to deck out their homes in holiday decor. While this is usually beautiful and festive, it can pose a fire hazard if not done properly. Don’t be afraid to set down some ground rules. For example, encourage the use of battery-powered lights as opposed to plug-in options.
4. Come up with a snow and ice removal game plan.
There are no two ways about it, you’re going to have to deal with snow and ice. Ignoring the elements only creates a fall risk for tenants and visitors. Reach out to your chosen vendor as soon as possible. This will give you time to review the contract thoroughly or even change vendors if needed. Planning ahead means you aren’t struggling to find someone after the first big snowfall.
5. Prune trees and shrubs.
Speaking of snowfall, that white stuff can get extremely heavy when it builds up on trees and shrubs. With enough of a blizzard, snow can snap branches and crush smaller bushes. This doesn’t just impact the aesthetic of your property, but the safety of your tenants. A broken branch can land on personal property, like a car, or even a person!
6. Perform furnace maintenance.
If you’ve ever had your furnace give out in the dead of winter, you know how awful it can be. Last year, Alberta experienced record-breaking low temperatures all over the province. Heat is arguably more important than it has ever been. Conduct your annual furnace maintenance before a breakdown. This means changing the filters and having all the main components inspected by a professional. Being proactive also means that you skip the exorbitant emergency maintenance fees that HVAC contractors often charge.
7. Inspect doors and windows.
Cold air will try to find any way to get into a home. The best spots are all the nooks and crannies created by cracks in windows and doors. On those particularly brisk days, the unit’s furnace may not be enough to stave off the cold. This increases heating bills exponentially and decreases the comfort of your tenants. In most cases you don’t need to fully replace the windows and doors, just arm yourself with a tube of caulking and work your way around the house to plug up any holes.
8. Check in on your vacant units.
It can be easy to forget about those units and properties which aren’t currently occupied. Even though no one is living there at the moment, take the time to stop by throughout the winter months. If a pipe happens to burst or a tree falls on the roof, you’ll be able to find out right away with regular check-ins. This is also a great way to utilize a property management company if you’re a snowbird and will be off on that tropical vacation you’ve been planning for two years.
Alberta is best known for its extreme winters. As a landlord, you need to be prepared for everything that comes along with it. For extra support as we go into this holiday season, get in touch with our team of property management specialists.