Winter Property Maintenance Checklist for Your Rentals - Article Banner

Winter isn’t terribly cold or unpleasant in Santa Rosa and the surrounding areas. We’re fortunate not to have to worry about blizzards and ice. We’ll see snow-capped mountains in the distance while enjoying fairly moderate temperatures. 

That doesn’t mean we won’t enjoy our peppermint lattes, our fires in the fireplace, and our favorite fuzzy socks. 

We will also make sure we’re on point with our winter maintenance tasks at our investment properties. 

If you’re renting out a home in Santa Rosa, maintaining that home is likely a priority. If you’re smart, you’re investing heavily in preventative maintenance. It reduces the number of emergency repairs you’re called to manage, and it keeps your costs down.

Here are the items you absolutely need on your winter maintenance checklist. 

Inspect and Service Heating Units

Your Santa Rosa residents will definitely need heat throughout the coldest days of the winter, so make sure your furnace and heating units are working the way they should be. We are always recommending that owners have their entire HVAC system serviced at least once a year. If you do it before the seasons change, you can be sure the heating unit is ready for winter. 

Schedule your local HVAC technician to come out to your rental properties to inspect, clean, and service the furnace, vents, and full heating unit. This will prevent any major problems during the winter. You don’t want to leave tenants without heat. Get ahead of any potential problems that will result in frantic phone calls. 

Check for Water Intrusion and Reinforce Insulation

Water is terrible for rental properties, and before winter sets in, make sure you have checked and cleaned the gutters at your property. You’re looking for any debris that might have gathered over the summer. If your gutters are clogged, you run the risk of attracting pests and pushing water into the property. That’s going to lead to bigger and more expensive problems. 

You also want to make sure your rental property or your building is well-insulated. Inspect the windows and doors. Trim back any tree branches or bushes that might break windows during a winter storm. 

After you’ve had the gutters cleaned out and you’ve checked the insulation, make sure your roof is in good condition. This is a huge checklist item, because you don’t want your roof falling apart during the winter. Make sure there isn’t a lot of debris, and look for water intrusion. Make sure there aren’t any holes or missing shingles.  

Safety is a Seasonal Maintenance Issue

Before winter arrives, take the time to check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in your rental property. 

You want to be sure the batteries are changed, if you are using battery-operated models, and that these detectors are functional. It’s a good time to check the locks on doors and windows, too. They should open and close easily. Replace any torn window screens.

Winter Landscaping To-Do List

If you’re renting out a single-family home or if you have a multi-unit property with a lot of outdoor space, you’ll want to prepare the landscaping for colder weather. You probably won’t need to water the lawn as much, because it won’t be so hot, and mowing will not have to be done nearly as frequently as during the spring and summer months. The drought conditions and water restrictions will obviously impact what kind of watering you can and cannot do, so make sure you’re checking those.

This is the right time to add fertilizer to your grass to prepare it for growth in the spring. Trim back any dead leaves or branches and bring in any flowers or plants that cannot survive colder temperatures. 

Your irrigation system is one of the most likely places for a pipe to burst or begin rusting. Before the temperatures begin to drop, make sure you’ve drained all the water out of your lawn sprinklers. While you’re taking care of the exterior sprinklers, make sure you winterize any of your plumbing and pipes in unheated parts of the building. If you’re renting out a multi-family building in Santa Rosa, check common areas for any pipes that might need attention and insulation. 

Multi-Family Outdoor Winter Maintenance Tips 

Outdoor pools should be covered and off limits as soon as the fall weather sets in. Start by giving the pool a good cleaning and remove any floating or loose accessories. Flush the filter and lower the water level. You’ll want to make sure you drain the filter, the pump, and any heater you might use as well as the equipment that delivers chlorine to the water. Empty the chemical feeder and apply the cover. Make sure it’s secure and that any gates or fences leading to the pool are locked. 

You’ll need to take a few additional steps outside if you’re renting out an apartment building or a series of units in a complex. Multi-family properties will require some cleaning and upkeep in terms of outdoor furniture, grills, and community areas like tennis courts or basketball courts. Don’t leave anything outside that could be damaged during the winter months. Inspect the surrounding area for weak tree limbs and potential hazards.

Budget for Heating Costs and Maintenance 

If you’re renting out multi-family units and you’re paying for the utilities, strategize and budget for the coming season. Maybe you include the utility cost in the rent or you bill the amount back to tenants, based on usage. However your system works out, you’ll have to decide what this means for winter utility bills. 

Heating costs will obviously go up during the winter months. Make sure your property is well-insulated so you don’t lose money. Talk to your tenants about keeping the heat on even if they’re not home. You want the thermostat to stay at 50 to 55 degrees to ensure pipes don’t freeze. 

When you’re preparing to winterize, you have to think about your maintenance budget. There will not necessarily be more expenses during the winter, but the things you pay attention to will be a little bit different. 

Educate Your Tenants on Seasonal Maintenance 

When you’re thinking about seasonal maintenance partnerships, there are three that matter most: 

  1. Vendors and contractors
  2. Tenants 
  3. Property managers

Let’s start with tenants. Your tenants can help you have a successful winter at your rental property. While it’s a property owner’s responsibility to keep their property safe and habitable throughout the winter, you’re going to need a little help from the people who are actually living in the home. 

Remind your tenants of their responsibilities and make sure they’re educated on how to handle some of the things that may come up during the winter. Start with establishing the expectations about who is responsible for lawn care and exterior maintenance. Review emergency procedures and if appropriate, schedule a maintenance walk-through at the property with your tenants. 

Next, make sure your tenants understand that you want to be notified right away if there’s a problem at the home. You don’t want deferred and unreported maintenance to stretch out through the winter. Problems will only grow more complicated and more expensive with time. 

Make sure your tenants know how to keep themselves safe during the winter. 

Vendor and Property Management in Santa Rosa

You also need to partner with vendors. If you don’t already have a preferred list of vendors and a network of contractors you can call to take care of preventive and emergency winter maintenance, now is the time to begin putting that list together. You don’t want to be left wondering how to respond to a loss of heat, a minor electrical fire from the dryer, or a problem with water. 

Property management in Santa Rosa is an easy way to ensure your investment property is seasonally maintained without having to bother to do any of the work yourself. When you’re choosing a property management partner, always ask about what they do to keep your property safe during the changing of the seasons.

Special Attention to Vacant Santa Rosa Rental Properties 

vacant apartmentIf your rental property happens to be vacant during the winter, there are extra precautions that need to be taken. You may want to turn off your water supply completely if there’s not a tenant living there and you don’t have any scheduled maintenance work or cleaning to be done. A burst pipe might go unnoticed when there’s no one at the home. This will cause a lot of damage and cost a lot of money. 

Once you have turned off the water supply, drain all pipes of water by opening faucets and flushing toilets.

Vacant rental properties will need to be checked on from time to time. Hopefully, you’re working with an experienced Santa Rosa property manager who can take care of this for you. If not, consider talking to a management partner who can keep you on track with seasonal and preventative maintenance, educate your tenants on how to have a safe winter, and make sure that your vacant property is in good shape and not unoccupied for too long. 

These are our best winter maintenance checklist items, and we’d be happy to discuss the unique needs of your property. Contact us at Redwood Residential Property Management.