A Landlord’s Guide to Winter Maintenance for Boston Real Estate
With Thanksgiving in the rear-view mirror, it’s time for landlords and property managers to get serious about winter maintenance for their Boston real estate. Cold, wet weather can take its toll on a property. It’s important to be proactive because repair costs can mount quickly!
Here are a few maintenance tips that will give landlords peace of mind in the months ahead.
Clear Gutters and Ensure Proper Drainage
By now, the trees in Boston have shed most of their leaves. Leaves, twigs and other debris can clog gutters. If water begins to pool on the roof as well, it can cause blockages that result in costly roof damage. If you want to clean your gutters properly, here’s some advice: make sure you have a sturdy ladder and dress appropriately; then, use a scraper or trowel to clean rain gutters of leaves and other debris. Then rinse your gutters to ensure everything flows to the downspouts freely. Make sure you are prepared to take on the task, or hire a professional to do it for you.
This is also a good time to check the drainage around your Boston rental property. Be sure that all drains have been graded properly around the perimeter of the property so water doesn’t collect around the foundation. Otherwise, you could be faced with erosion or leaks in the basement.
Prep the Yard for Harsh Winter Weather
Now is a good time to prepare the yard for harsh winter weather before it arrives. Rake leaves and trim hedges one last time. Take down weaker branches that may come down under the weight of snow. Fertilize the grass and remove plants or roots that may impact siding, outdoor patios, or brick walkways.
If you haven’t done so already, be sure to clean and store any outdoor furniture, grills, etc. Remind tenants to do the same if they have their personal belongings outside! Finally, be sure to disconnect hoses and drain sprinkler systems. Otherwise, the cold weather could cause the pipes to freeze and your hoses and other water lines could burst.
If you have plants, keep in mind they don’t need to be watered as often in the winter. When you do water them, make sure it’s during daylight hours on a warmer day.
Check Insulation Around Windows and Doors
The seams and weather stripping around doors and windows can leak hot air and drive up heating costs. This is a big problem for landlords who foot the heating bill- especially as National Grid estimates a 64% increase in customers’ monthly bills. The price of natural gas is significantly higher this year, primarily due to inflation and the lack of comprehensive domestic energy production. In order to mitigate their financial damage, landlords would do well to make sure their properties are well insulated!
To check for possible leakage, turn on any exhaust fans in the home (such as bathroom fans or oven hoods), and then carefully move a lit candle around the seams of the doors and windows. If the flame flickers or the smoke shifts, then air is leaking (either in or out). Depending on how severe the leakage is, you might consider sealing cracks with caulk or you might want to replace windows entirely. Remember that new windows, when necessary, can add value to your rental property.
Finally, be sure to cover up or store AC units for the winter. The gaps between window and units are often overlooked as potential insulation issues!
Get Heating Systems Warm and Ready
Make sure vents are clear, filters are in good condition, and your heating systems are in good working order. If your rental property has a gas-fired water heater, cut costs by insulating the tank to keep water warmer for longer. Insulating wraps can be found at most home stores and come with installation instructions. While you’re at it, consider draining hot water heaters. Flushing the system once a year removes sediment from the tank that can cause it to work harder.
Make Fire Prevention a Priority
Did you know: more home fires happen during winter months than any other time of year? It’s true! Fires are often caused by residents who light candles, stoke ovens, and use space heaters to stay warm. Avoid fires at your rental property by testing all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace batteries as needed. Consider giving residents new fire extinguishers as well.
Last but not least, if any of your apartments have a working fireplace or wood stove, now is a good time for a good old-fashioned chimney sweep. Make sure all vents and flues are working properly so that smoke can escape properly. Clear and consider re-caulking chimney caps to prevent obstructions. Birds love to make their nests by chimney caps!
Enlist the Support of a Pro
If all of this fall and winter maintenance seems daunting, consider enlisting the support of a property manager, landscaping company or other professional. DIY landlords often fall behind on these important tasks and over time, put their investment properties at risk of needing costly repairs that could otherwise be avoided. In the end, it’s a smaller investment to hire a professional than it is to have to deal with a major repair.
Protect Your Boston Real Estate Investments
Peace of mind is the most important thing, and we want to help you not worry about a thing. It’s important to stay on top of maintenance for your Boston real estate, and we want to help you every step of the way. Please visit the Boston Pads Real Estate Portal for more valuable information- we have more tips and resources for Boston landlords than anyone else. We look forward to working with you!