For landlords who manage properties in cooler climates, the threat of a winter storm is always a possibility. Of course, as winter nears, unexpected weather patterns and snowstorms can also impact nearly any climate, causing havoc for those who are not used to dealing with such weather.
Residential property managers have a duty to their tenants and to the property owners to be prepared for such events. Actions can be taken to help better equip you in handling such an emergency. Here are some tips and advice to prepare for a winter storm.
Track the Weather
Make sure you are always up to date on the weather patterns in your area. You should make it a habit of checking your local weather forecast every morning and night. The more advanced notice you have, the better your opportunity to prepare.
There are many different ways to access the weather forecast, so you should choose the one that best fits your daily routine. Three of the best and easiest methods for tracking weather patterns are the watching the Weather Channel, going online, or using an app for your phone or other mobile device. There are also numerous apps available for your mobile devices which provide you with up to the minute weather forecasts and severe weather alerts. There are numerous options to choose from, including apps from The Weather Channel and the NOAA.
Inspect Every Property & Winterize
You will want to winterize your property well before the winter season actually begins. Making sure your property is ready for cold conditions and potentially heavy snow can help prevent problems down the line.
- Inspect Trees and Branches: You will want to inspect the perimeter of your property for any trees or tree branches that may not be able to survive a winter storm. Strong winds or the weight of snow or freezing rain can cause trees and branches to fall. Before the storm hits, you should have dead branches removed and, if time permits, have especially dangerous trees removed. It may be a large expense, but it certainly outweighs the alternative of having the tree fall and damage your property, someone else’s property or worse yet, fall on a person.
- Make Sure All Furnaces or Boilers Are Functioning: A winter storm involves snow, sleet or freezing rain, which are created by very cold temperatures. To have snow, for example, the temperature must usually be below 32 degrees Fahrenheit or 0 degrees Celsius. Anticipating frigid temperatures such as these, and potentially being unable to get to your property because of the bad weather, it is imperative that you make sure the boilers or furnaces at your properties are working properly before the storm hits. You would not want your tenants to be without heat in these adverse conditions.
- Insulate the Property: Having the proper insulation in walls and attic space can help keep out the cold. You should also caulk or add weather-stripping to windows and doors.
- Insulate the Pipes: Pipes freezing and ultimately bursting are a concern in colder temperatures. You should make sure all pipes are properly insulated. Another tip for avoiding freezing pipes is to allow faucets to have a small drip so that there is constantly running water in the pipes.
Alert Your Tenants
When you are aware that a winter storm will be hitting your area, it is important to notify your tenants. You should alert them to stay indoors if possible and minimize travel to reduce the risk of accident or injury. Advise them to stock up on supplies such as food and water in case they are not able to leave the property for a period of time. You should also advise them to have warm blankets and flashlights in case the property loses electricity.
Make sure that you have a subcontractor that is responsible for snow removal and de-icing possibly treacherous areas like stairways and common areas in the event you cannot make it to the property. You may even be able to offer a tenant a reduction in their monthly rent if they agree to put down salt and shovel regularly during a storm.
Have the Appropriate Materials on Hand
As a property manager you should take extra steps to make sure all of your properties are equipped with the essentials for handling a winter storm. You will want to make sure each property has at least one shovel that is readily accessible and a medium which will melt snow or ice. There are many options to choose from depending on your preferences. These include rock salt, calcium chloride and even cat litter. Keep your tenants safe and your property owners/investors protected and happy during the winter months. You will see the benefit of your efforts reflected over time in your growing portfolio.