Preparing Your Rental Property for Fall

As with every season, Fall is an important time to conduct preventative maintenance on your rental property. This article summarizes what to do, and why, as the cooler months approach.

Summer has passed (ūüėĘ) and fall is in full force. October presents itself as the perfect time to ensure your rental property is ready for the upcoming colder months. Don't underestimate the power of preventative maintenance; it's an important element of owning real estate. Ultimately it will save you both time and money. Here, we'll explore a few key maintenance items to keep your property in tip-top shape and, of course, keep your tenants happy.

Sealing Windows and Doors

Why It's Important: 

Drafty windows and doors aren't just uncomfortable for your tenants; they can also lead to substantial heat loss, translating into higher energy bills. No one enjoys that. Maintaining proper insulation is critical for an energy-efficient and comfort-optimized rental.

What to Do:

  • Inspect the caulking around your windows and doors carefully.
  • Look for cracks, gaps, or any deteriorating caulk.
  • Re-seal any problematic areas using weatherstripping or fresh caulk.
  • If it‚Äôs time for new windows and doors, consider energy-efficient options.

Pro Tip: On top of being good for the environment and saving money on utility bills, energy-efficient windows and doors can also increase the value of your property, making it more appealing to potential tenants.

Deck and Patio Maintenance

Why It's Important: 

Decks and patios battle the elements year-round, but the winter months can be particularly rough. Neglected wood can rot, loose boards can become safety hazards, and extending the life of your deck and patio will save you thousands.

What to Do:

  • Inspect your deck and patio for signs of wear and tear.
  • Tighten any loose screws and/or hammer in fresh nails to secure boards.
  • Replace damaged or rotting boards as needed.
  • Sealing the wood is always recommended to protect it from moisture during the rainy and snowy months.

Pro Tip: Like energy-efficient windows, a well-maintained outdoor space can significantly increase the appeal of your rental property (as well as the rent you collect).

Inspect Insulation

Why It's Important: 

Proper insulation is key to maintaining a comfortable indoor temperature and reducing energy consumption. Poor insulation can result in heat loss, higher energy costs for your tenants, and headaches for everyone.

What to Do:

  • Thoroughly check the insulation in your attic and walls.
  • If it's inadequate or damaged, add more insulation.
  • Foam boards or loose-fill insulation are excellent options for improving your property's thermal envelope.

Pro Tip: Conduct an energy audit to identify areas where insulation improvements can yield the most significant energy savings. Stay tuned for a separate blog post on how to perform one.

Pest Control

Why It's Important: 

As the weather cools, pests (rodents, insects, etc.) seek warm places to take refuge, and your rental property could become their winter vacation spot. Pest infestations lead to unhappy tenants and potential damage which can be costly.

What to Do:

  • Seal any cracks or holes in your property's exterior to prevent pests from entering.
  • Consider applying a perimeter spray around your property to deter pests from approaching.
  • Encourage your tenants to keep the kitchen and common areas clean to avoid attracting ants and roaches - keep the food in the fridge and pantry!

Pro Tip: Putting pest control on a regular cadence can help a lot - whether you do it yourself or hire a pest company. Regular oversight goes a long way.

Trimming Trees and Shrubs

Why It's Important: 

Overgrown trees and shrubs can pose a significant risk during windy or snowy conditions. Branches can break off and damage your property, creating potential safety hazards for your tenants.

What to Do:

  • Inspect your property for any overgrown branches that are too close to your home, or power lines, or pose a risk of falling.
  • Prune back branches to a safe distance from the property and utility lines.
  • Remove dead or diseased branches to improve the health and safety of trees and shrubs on your property.
  • Tree limbs and shrubs that are too close to the property can also be a superhighway for pests - it‚Äôs best to keep vegetation at least 3 feet from any part of the building.

Pro Tip: Regular tree and shrub maintenance not only safeguards your property and tenants but also enhances its curb appeal.

Insulate Exterior Plumbing

Why It's Important: 

Frozen pipes can lead to extensive water damage and costly repairs. As temperatures drop during the winter, uninsulated exterior plumbing and pipes are particularly vulnerable to freezing.

What to Do:

  • Identify all exterior plumbing and pipes, including those in attics, crawl spaces, basements, and outdoor areas.
  • Insulate these pipes using pipe insulation sleeves or wrap them with heat tape.
  • Pay special attention to areas where pipes are exposed to the cold, such as outdoor faucets and hoses.
  • Additionally, ensure that outdoor faucets are turned off and drained to prevent water from freezing inside.

Pro Tip: Never let the heat in your property drop below 55 degrees in the winter. If you (or your tenants) head out of town, it’s important to keep the heat running to prevent frozen pipes.

Inspect the Roof (visually)

Why It's Important:

Your property's roof plays a vital role in protecting it from the elements. Regular roof inspections can help you identify and address issues before you have a problem on your hands.

What to Do:

  • Carefully inspect the roof for missing or damaged shingles, cracks, or signs of wear and tear.
  • Check for loose or damaged flashing around chimneys, vents, and skylights.
  • Clear debris from gutters and downspouts to ensure proper drainage.
  • Consider hiring a professional roofing contractor for a more thorough inspection and any necessary repairs.

Pro Tip: If you notice a lot of shingle granules (tiny bits of crushed stone) in the gutters, this is another sign you may need a new roof.

By following these few steps, you can ensure that your property will remain in top-notch condition, your tenants will be happy, and you’ll minimize costly repairs down the road. Additionally, these proactive measures can enhance your property's energy efficiency and overall appeal, making it more attractive to prospective tenants and increasing your rental income.

Remember that regular maintenance is not just a one-time effort but an ongoing commitment to safeguarding your investment and providing a comfortable and appealing living space for your tenants. Happy landlording!