The Winter Maintenance Checklist for Rental Property Owners

Anna Talamo
Dec 20, 2023

Winter wonderlands might be magical in a holiday song, but in reality, snow and cold can cause a lot of challenges for rental property owners. As the seasons change from fall to winter, it’s time to start thinking about performing seasonal maintenance to keep your rental property operational while minimizing potential damage. 

Depending on where your rental property is located, there are different issues that can arise during the winter months. Snow, ice, low temperatures, and increased fireplace usage can all lead to problems for your property and its tenants. Even if your property isn’t located somewhere with freezing temperatures, or is vacant, seasonal maintenance is still an important part of owning and operating a rental property. 

In this article, you’ll discover winter home maintenance tips for winterizing your rental property. 

Winterizing the Outside of Your Rental Property 

Freezing temperatures, snow, and ice can all take a toll on your rental property’s exterior. By completing some preventative maintenance, you can help limit the amount of damage these outdoor elements can cause. 

Conduct an Exterior Inspection 

You can start winterizing your rental property by inspecting the following:

  • Foundation: When inspecting the foundation, look for cracks, gaps, or signs of water damage. Freezing temperatures can exacerbate these problems and lead to foundational issues. 
  • Roof: It’s recommended for property owners to inspect their roof twice a year to spot any potential problems, like damaged or missing shingles, cracked flashing, or deteriorated sealant. Inspecting the roof yourself or hiring a professional to do it can help ensure that small issues don’t turn into bigger and more expensive problems down the road. 
  • Doorways: Exterior doors should be checked to ensure they are in good condition and properly sealed. Gaps between the door and frame could impact the energy efficiency of the property. Installing weatherstripping around the edges or using a door draft blocker can help keep heat from escaping the unit. 
  • Windows: Cracked or broken glass, loose frames, or damaged seals on windows can allow cold air into the rental property and result in a higher energy bill. You can apply caulk around the window trim to seal off drafts or install weatherstripping around the edges to create a tight seal. 

Clean the Gutters

Clogged gutters can lead to a variety of issues, including water damage, loosened gutters, ice dams, and insect and rodent problems. Clearing gutters and downspouts of leaves, sticks, and other debris at least twice a year can help prevent these issues and ensure proper water flow.

Landscape Trees and Shrubs 

Pruning trees and trimming shrubs can help minimize potential damage caused by winter storms. Heavy snowfall, ice, and high winds could cause branches to fall on the property, or scrape the roof or siding. When landscaping, be sure to trim down branches hanging over the property, driveway, sidewalks, and power lines. Dying or dead plants should also be removed. 

Store Outdoor Furniture

Wicker, plastic, resin, and wood furniture can suffer if kept outside during the cold and snowy months. Before putting furniture away for the winter, be sure to clean it, cover it, and store any cushions or umbrellas.  

Test Outdoor Equipment

As winter approaches, it’s a good time to inspect and service any outdoor equipment you might use during the season. Snow blowers, shovels, and ice melt spreaders can help remove snow and ice from the property. If you don’t live near your rental property, contract snow-clearing services before the first snowstorm. If snow removal is the tenant’s responsibility, make sure that is communicated clearly in your rental agreement.

Winterizing the Inside of Your Rental Property

Keeping the inside of your rental property in good condition is just as important as making sure the outside is properly protected. Taking the time to check and inspect the interior can help ensure the property remains safe during the winter months. 

Check the Furnace, Boilers, and HVAC Systems

During colder months, tenants are dependent on the property’s heating system to run smoothly. Be sure to check the property’s furnace, boiler, and HVAC filters and change them if they haven’t been replaced in the last year. Inspect all systems for damaged or aging parts that need to be replaced, and consider replacing the entire unit if it’s getting too old to function properly. 

Inspect and Clean the Fireplace and Chimney

If your rental property features a fireplace, it’s important to ensure that it is in good working order before tenants use it. Cleaning the chimney and inspecting the flue can prevent blockages and limit potential fire hazards

Insulate the Pipes

As temperatures dip low in the winter, exposed or uninsulated pipes can freeze and burst, resulting in water damage. Look for small cracks or signs of corrosion as indicators of where a breach is most likely to happen. Insulation sleeves or heating tape can offer added protection to these areas. You should also emphasize the importance of keeping the heat on and allowing faucets to drip slightly during the winter to tenants. 

Seal Electrical Outlets

Electrical outlets can let cold air into the rental property and result in higher energy bills. Foam gaskets or caulk are fire-retardant ways to insulate electrical outlets. 

Winterizing a Vacant Rental Property

There might be a time when your rental property isn’t occupied by tenants. In that case, there are additional maintenance items you can complete to help protect your rental property from the risks of being vacant during the winter. 

Turn Off the Water Supply

If your rental property is vacant during the winter, leaving the water line on when the lines aren’t going to be used could lead to water damage if a pipe leaks or bursts. You can limit the risk of water damage by shutting the water off at the main valve. Once the water is shut off, drain the water by opening each faucet and flushing each toilet. If you don’t want to shut off the water supply completely, be sure to leave some water running through the pipes by turning on a steady trickle on the fixtures closest to where water enters the unit. 

Keep the Property Warm

The property’s furnace should be kept on to make sure the pipes don’t freeze. Keeping the property’s temperature at 60 degrees or higher can help keep the interior of the floor and wall cavities above freezing temperatures. You can also leave room and cabinet doors open to allow heat to circulate more easily. 

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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Conducting seasonal maintenance can ensure that your rental property remains in good working order during the winter months and that your tenants remain safe and warm. 

In addition to winterizing your rental property, getting your finances in order before the end of the year can bring you peace of mind as a real estate investor. Finally, even if you take every precaution to limit damage to your rental property this winter, it’s always a good idea to have coverage in place to provide you and your investment with additional protection. Getting a quote from Obie today can help ensure you have the right insurance for your unique needs.