According to the Insurance Information Institute, winter weather events are the second leading cause of property insurance claims. In 2019, winter-related claims accounted for $2.1 billion in property losses.
As a property owner in Virginia, you might assume that you’re safe from these losses. However, Virginia does experience cooler temperatures in the winter months, and you can take steps to prepare.
Read on to learn more about preparing your rental property for winter.
A Winter-Weather Checklist for Rental Property
Protecting your rental property requires preparation. The following are the most important steps you can take to protect your investment from damage.
1. Conduct a Heating and Air Conditioning Inspection
Check that your HVAC systems are running efficiently. Also remember to replace the filters.
2. Check the Ductwork
If you haven’t cleaned and inspected your ductwork in a few years, this year’s winter prep is a good time.
Debris builds up gradually, so experts recommend cleaning a property’s ductwork every 3-5 years. Doing so reduces strain on the HVAC system and keeps it running efficiently.
3. Inspect the Roof and Gutters
As you examine the roof, look for shingles that are cracked and broken. These can work loose during a storm.
Gutters should be free from dirt and debris. Clearing gutters and downspouts protects the roof and interior ceiling from leaks.
4. Inspect Doors, Windows, and Walls
Perform an interior and exterior inspection for cracks, and use caulking or sealant to patch any problem areas.
Also look for any gaps that indicate windows and doors aren’t closing securely.
5. Inspect the Chimney
A fireplace adds value to your rental property and increases its appeal and comfort for renters. However, a fireplace can create risks when not properly maintained.
As the winter approaches, ensure that your property’s fireplace and chimney are safe. A professional chimney sweep can clean the chimney and inspect it for signs of damage.
6. Be a Protector of Your Detectors
All states require property owners to install working smoke alarms. More than half of all states require working carbon monoxide detectors.
Your rental agreement should spell out smoke and carbon monoxide detector maintenance responsibilities. If those responsibilities fall to you, change the batteries and test these alarms as you prepare the home for winter.
If your rental agreement requires renters to maintain detectors, remind them of this responsibility.
7. Conduct a Landscaping Inspection
Protecting your rental home and your tenants requires preparing not just the home but the rental property as a whole. This includes the yard.
Inspect trees and bushes for signs of weakness. Remove any branches that appear unable to withstand strong winds.
A winter property inspection is also a good time to check sidewalks and other walkways. As you inspect the property’s cement work, look for cracks and raised areas.
If an inspection reveals even minor cracks, use a concrete sealant to patch them. Doing so regularly—when you prepare your property for winter—can prevent minor cracks from becoming bigger problems.
8. Communicate with Tenants
As the owner, you’re ultimately responsible for protecting your rental home from damage. However, your efforts rely on your tenants. All the steps you take can mean little if your tenants aren’t informed and don’t follow through.
You can manage these steps and communicate with tenants yourself. However, hiring an experienced property manager is one of the best ways to ensure clear communication. Property managers can help you find the best tenants. They can also help you make the most of your investment.
9. Protect Vacant Properties
If your rental property is a vacation home or will otherwise be vacant for extended periods this winter, be sure to regularly inspect the property for signs of trouble. This is especially important throughout the winter months.
Don’t Let the Winter Season Leave You and Your Tenants Frosty
A popular adage suggests that you don’t want to borrow trouble. You don’t want to rent it either though. Preparing your rental property for winter saves you and your tenants from inconvenience, financial loss, and potential injuries.
Follow these rental property tips to prepare for winter. If you have questions or want to enlist a professional property manager, contact Keyrenter Hampton Roads for assistance today.