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Tips for winterizing your home or apartment

Tips for winterizing your home or apartment

In my part of the country, we have already had our first taste of snow. For a while now I’ve been observing my neighbors, industriously preparing for the white wonder. Homeowners know from experience that preparing their homes in advance for the cold season is a must, renters not so much. However, rentals need winter preparation as well, otherwise landlords will have to deal with water damage, frozen pipes, and other costly repairs.

There is also an educational aspect of this needed process — tenants will learn what they should do when they will own their own home, while ensuring that they are protecting the property from damage.

Communication is essential; if the landlord works together with the tenant to create a winter-ready home, both sides will have a careless season, and less to attend to when the snow melts.

Talk to the tenant

Meet and have a conversation with your tenant. Most probably you already know a series of things you need to look at, but your tenant may know more than you do–after all, they live there and are more familiar with the drafty windows and doors, as well as with issues with plumbing and drainage. This is a good time to talk to your tenant about which responsibilities are whose and this will keep you on the same page.

The To Do List

You can save this list year after year and update it as needed.

  • Turn off outdoor water faucets and drain pipes
  • Clean gutters
  • Insulate doors and windows
  • Clean up leaves and clear walkway and parking areas
  • Put away seasonal furniture
  • Replace furnace filter
  • Clean the chimney

A good tip to remember is that in older homes chances are that you’ll need to have your tenant use window insulation to raise the level of comfort and affordability during the long winter months.

Split responsibilities

Don’t fight over who needs to do what; instead, split them logically: tasks that are not required for comfort or quality of life should be cared for by the tenant; anything structural that needs repairs (not because of the tenant) should be fixed by the landlord, unless otherwise stated in the lease agreement.

Winterize inside and outside

Besides the insulation of doors and windows mentioned above, inspect the roof to make sure there are no weak spots, and make sure the siding is secure and stable. Remind your tenant to keep the yard and walkways clear of debris (and if they have a pet, remind them to clean after them so that there aren’t surprises when spring returns).

If it falls under your responsibility to provide salt, sand, shovels, and other seasonal provisions, get them early and let your tenant know where you’ve let them.

It’s the season of decorations so if your tenant plans to decorate for the holidays, let them know where it’s safe to put up lights and hand wreaths. Everyone is festive to some degree, but if they’re planning on using a staple gun on the eaves troughs or in the siding, they may cause damage that will cost you both.

Enjoy a cup of hot chocolate while discussing. Maybe even bring up renters insurance policy and its benefits, to add more serenity to your favorite season.