Winter is coming, as it does every year.
What does this mean for Phoenix, Gilbert, Mesa, and the rest of the East Valley?
Not much, really. Lower temperatures, but nothing too unpleasant. We likely won’t freeze. We probably won’t see snow or ice or even much rain.
In this area, we’re fortunate not to have to worry about blizzards and ice. We might see snow-capped mountains in the distance while enjoying fairly moderate temperatures.
This doesn’t mean we’re going to forget our winter maintenance tasks, especially at rental properties.
If you’re renting out a home in Phoenix, maintaining that home is likely a priority. If you’re smart, you’re investing heavily in preventative maintenance. This type of attention and schedule will reduce the number of emergency repairs you’re called to manage, and it keeps your general maintenance costs down.
Let’s take a look at some of the things that belong on your winter maintenance checklist.
Inspect and Service Heating and Air Conditioning Units
Your Phoenix residents will likely want to turn on their heat throughout the coldest days of the winter. While daytime temperatures tend to average between 60 and 70 degrees, we do have a few cold days that make it hard to feel warm. There are also the nights, which can become quite chilly.
Keep your tenants comfortable and your property protected by making sure your furnace and heating units are working the way they should be. A good part of any preventative maintenance plan is to have the 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. It’s also a great way to make sure the cooling unit is in good condition after a very hot summer in which the a/c was required to be put in overtime.
Get ahead of any potential problems that will result in frantic phone calls. And, look for ways to keep your rental property energy efficient. For example, be sure to remove any shade screens you may have installed. You can simply unclip them and put them away until the next summer. Solar gain through windows can help your tenants keep the property warm without turning on the heat. That will lower energy bills from decreased heat use.
Check for Water Intrusion and Reinforce Insulation
Repair any existing or potential leaks.
Clean out the gutters at your property and look 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 not a problem you want to solve later.
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 may be causing a concern to the building or to the safety of your residents.
Look for air leaks, which can be almost as damaging as water leaks, especially when you’re trying to keep cold or warm air inside the home. Warm air rises, and it can easily escape through any crack or opening that it finds. This includes the chimney of a fireplace, old windows, doors, plumbing penetrations under sinks, and even outlets. Replace old weather stripping around your doors. Caulk the windows if necessary. This will keep your air cleaner and it will circulate more efficiently. Tenants will appreciate it.
After you’ve had the gutters cleaned out and you’ve checked the insulation, make sure your roof is in good condition. You don’t need your roof falling apart. Make sure there isn’t a lot of debris, and look for water intrusion. Make sure there aren’t any holes or missing shingles.
Make Safety a Seasonal Issue
This is an excellent 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
Another checklist item for winter maintenance is your outdoor space. Tenants will likely spend more time outdoors during the winter months, since it’s not so hot. If you are renting out a home with a yard or even a courtyard, you’ll want to make sure the outdoor space is safe, clean, and well-maintained.
If you have any grass in your outdoor space, you’ll want to pay attention to your irrigation system. Look for any evidence of leaks or rust. 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 Phoenix, check common areas for any pipes that might need attention and insulation.
Seasonal Maintenance Responsibilities and Partnerships
When you’re thinking about keeping your property well-maintained for the winter, be sure to invest in your seasonal maintenance partnerships. There is a lot to be gained when you’re working closely with your vendors and contractors, your tenants, and your local property managers. Maintenance is a team effort.
- Tenants. Your tenants can help you have a successful winter at your rental property, and they should be held accountable for keeping the property clean and in good condition throughout the season. 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 general 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. This should be in your lease agreement. Review emergency procedures and if appropriate, schedule a maintenance walk-through at the property with your tenants.
Most importantly, make sure your tenants understand that you want to be notified right away if there’s a maintenance problem at the property. 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. Reinforce your desire to hear about those maintenance requests immediately, no matter how minor.
- Vendors. You also need to partner with a team of professional, qualified, and affordable vendors. Unless you’re planning to take care of every repair with your own hands, you’ll need a list of excellent professionals you can call for repairs, replacements, and updates. 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. Your Phoenix property managers are a huge asset when it comes to seasonal maintenance. This is an easy way to ensure your investment property is seasonally maintained without having 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.
Is your rental property vacant? If so, you’ll want to check on it from time to time. Problems could arise, and you won’t know about them because no one is living there to report them.
With winter quickly approaching, you likely won’t have to worry about frozen pipes or slippery sidewalks at your rental property. Not in this market. However, it is important to take the necessary steps to prepare your rental properties and ensure they are safe for tenants. From checking the insulation around windows and doors to looking for leaks, you want to make sure your checklist is complete when it comes to maintaining your property over the winter.
Make sure your rental property is safe, habitable, and in good condition for the winter. If you’re not sure you have the capacity for this or you don’t have good relationships in place with vendors and contractors, you can benefit from the resources of a professional property manager. We’d be happy to talk with you and to make some customized maintenance recommendations based on the needs and conditions of your own property. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at TCT Property Management Services. We manage homes in the East Valley, including Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Scottsdale, and Phoenix.