The air is cooling, the leaves are starting to change, and the nights are getting longer. That means it’s time to get your rental ready for autumn and the unique maintenance issues this season presents. In today’s article, we’ll share rental property maintenance checklists from Bay Property Management Group with tasks for both landlords and tenants to keep everything running smoothly, no matter the weather.
How Should a Landlord Prepare Rental Properties for Fall?
- Review Your Insurance Policy: The weather tends to be more unpredictable in fall, so take the time to look over your landlord insurance policy and coverage limitations before seasonal storms occur.
- Examine Locks and Windows: Check all door and window locks to ensure they work properly. Colder weather can seize or jam these mechanisms, but a little WD-40 and inspection for excessive wear can keep the locks secure all season long.
- Seal Sources of Drafts: Small cracks in the unit let cold air in and increase utility costs, not to mention make the space uncomfortable. Inspect the unit’s doorways, windows, basement, and attic with sealant, like spray foam, to keep warm air in (and pests out!).
- Inspect the Chimney and Fireplace: If your unit has a chimney and fireplace, autumn is the perfect time to perform routine maintenance. Have them cleaned out by a licensed chimney sweep, and they’ll be able to highlight any concerns while teaching your tenant how to use these amenities properly.
- Test the Thermostat: Bay Property Management Group suggests “switching the system from cooling to heat and setting the temperature a few degrees higher than the room. The heat should kick on; if not, check the thermostat batteries and connections. If an issue arises, contact a professional HVAC vendor.”
- Clean the HVAC Heat Exchange: Hire a professional to clear off and vacuum the heat exchanger annually.
- Service the Blower Motor: Turn the power off, then clean the caps to the bearings of the blower motor. If that’s outside of your wheelhouse, no worries – a professional would be happy to assist.
- Test the Igniter: Newer HVAC systems use an electronic lighter, but if your unit has an older model, check the igniter to ensure it’s working.
Once the interior is squared away, it’s time to head outside and prepare the exterior.
- Check Your Trees and Landscaping: “Storms, snow, and ice can weigh down or break branches that may threaten the property or outbuildings. Therefore, consider having a professional tree service evaluate any large trees for potential problems and remove any damaged or diseased branches. Also, Fall maintenance should include trimming back bushes and removing any leaf build-up from exterior drains,” Bay Property Management Group recommends.
- Clean the Gutters: Autumn leaves are beautiful, but only when they’re not clogging your gutters. Grab a ladder and clear out any clogs while you inspect for damage to the gutters themselves so you can repair or replace any broken sections.
- Inspect the Roof: Cleaning off the roof is key to fall rental property maintenance. While you’re up there, look for any signs of weakness, damage, or missing shingles or tiles, then make repairs as needed.
- Prepare for Snow Removal: Your lease should stipulate who is responsible for snow removal. If that responsibility falls on your plate, plan early for snow removal services, and secure that contract during the fall if you don’t plan to shovel snow yourself.
How Should a Tenant Prepare Their Rental Unit for Fall?
While you certainly have your maintenance work carved out for you, it’s important to remember that you’re not in this alone. Your tenant must do their part, too! If you have specific maintenance tasks in mind that you’d like your tenant to take care of, be sure those responsibilities are outlined clearly in your lease (or via a lease addendum as needed).
Ask Your Tenants to...
- Test Emergency Systems: Have your tenants check the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. As Bay Property Management Group highlights, “these devices are required by code and can be lifesaving in an emergency.” If either device isn’t working, encourage your tenant to reach out to you for assistance. Then be sure to prioritize either fixing the device or securing a new one, as you typically have three to seven days to fix critical issues like this.
- Prevent Frozen Pipes: Before the first snowfall, tenants should winterize their unit, which includes draining exterior pipes or hose bobs and closing the valves for the season. You can provide instructions and/or the locations of these valves as needed.
- Replace HVAC Filter: If you can provide a new HVAC filter for your tenant, wonderful! Otherwise, we recommend sharing instructions to help them switch out the filter. To that end, this YouTube video might be helpful!
- Upkeep Outdoor Spaces: The end of summer doesn’t mean the end of outdoor upkeep! Whoever’s typically in charge of keeping the grass cut and removing leaves should continue that work until the first snow falls, then transition to shoveling snow and spreading salt on icy sidewalks and the driveway.
Every season requires its own maintenance tasks to keep your rental property safe, comfortable, and viable as a long-term investment. While some of these tasks require coordination and planning, these preventative efforts will pay off in the long run!