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During the wintertime, landlord's are frequently called upon to fix problems that are either the result of, or made worse by, cold weather conditions. Additionally, during the winter months, a landlord faces increased liability for injuries in places that experience snow and ice. Landlords can also be liable for injuries that result from poor maintenance of the property.
Apart from ensuring that sidewalks, common areas, and entryways are free from snow and ice, landlords also have to ensure that their tenants have adequate heat and protection from the elements. The following three tips can help landlords save time, money, and headache during the winter.
1. Opt for Prevention Over Problems
Many people subscribe to the philosophy of: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. However, sometimes things may be on their last legs of being ain't broke. When something breaks in the wintertime, the results can be much worse, and the costs to repair much higher. As a landlord, you are required to make repairs promptly.
Having the roof, plumbing, HVAC system, and windows inspected before winter weather really sets in is always advisable. Particularly having the roof and heating systems checked (and having filters changed, if necessary), is recommended, as roofing and heating can be the most costly repairs during the winter months. Additionally, for major repairs, tenants may need to be temporarily relocated, which could significantly add to the expense.
2. Hire Essential Winter Services in Advance to Save Money
Across most of the country, snow and ice removal is among the biggest burden landlords face in the wintertime. There are numerous services that will take care of these, and it often pays to hire these services well in advance as prices may be significantly lower in the off-season, or before the first major storm. Also, many HVAC companies will offer annual maintenance and repair contracts that can help avoid tenant troubles if the heating breaks in the wintertime.
In the states that freeze, many services offer annually recurring contracts for pre-winter maintenance, such as cleaning gutters, or purging outdoor irrigation systems and other plumbing, and resealing windows.
3. Educating Tenants to Reduce Energy Consumption and Costs
If you're responsible for paying your tenants' heating bills, you know all too well that with the cold weather, energy consumption increases. However, certain things, like keeping windows and entryways closed, can drastically reduce heating needs. Teaching tenants about good energy saving practices, and asking them to report problems like drafty windows or improperly sealed windows or doorways can actually result in saving money.
Pro-Tip: Contact your insurance agent to see if there is any additional coverage you can get to protect you from winter accidents or maintenance problems.