Winter is most definitely here, and the holidays are almost upon us. With the colder weather, there’s a higher chance of issues like burst pipes, leaks, and furnaces going out. It's also the season where lots has the potential to go wrong, and no doubt you will hear tenant concerns about winter issues.
Communication is key to helping your rental run to smoothly during the winter months, and making sure that essential tasks are not forgotten. Leverage an easy-to-use communication portal to talk with your tenants and discuss who will be responsible for which tasks during the winter months.
A good first step to winter proofing your property is to create a winter communications plan that addresses any tenant concerns about winter, and ensures that everyone knows what to do in case of a winter emergency.
Winter Communication Plan for Tenants
Address Possible Heating Concerns: If you are responsible for the heating of your rental units, send a note to let your tenants know to contact you immediately if the heating is not working in their unit. Tenants often complain of a unit being too cold. As a landlord, you have a responsibility to make sure the temperature is comfortable (check your municipality for guidelines), but you aren’t responsible for keeping it tropical. Usually, a space heater will suffice. If the tenant is responsible for heating, let them know that they must keep their apartment at an adequate temperature to prevent the pipes from bursting and damaging the unit.
Snow removal. In multi-family apartment buildings, the property management firm is responsible for removing snow and making sure ice is cleared from common walkways, either themselves or via a vendor. Communicate to your tenants before a storm when the parking lot will be cleared, and if you need them to move their cars. If you are renting a single home dwelling, the responsibility for snow removal must be spelled out in the lease. Keep your tenants updated on the local bylaws regarding snow clearing and offer safety tips to reduce the risk of injury during the winter months. To ensure regular shovelling of the property, you might want to provide your tenant with a shovel and the salt or sand needed to prevent anyone from slipping on your property shovelling.
Send Fire Safety Tips to Tenants: Every year at this time, fire and fire-related injuries increase. Common causes are kitchen fires, unattended candles, and electrical malfunctions. December is the perfect time to send your tenants a reminder on how they can reduce their risk of a fire, and what to do in case of a fire. Share tips on how to put out fires with baking soda or by smothering a pan fire with a lid to remove the oxygen. (Never use flour, which can explode or make the fire worse.) The tenant should ALWAYS call emergency services if the fire does not go out quickly or they are unsure about what to do.
Emergency Exit Reminders: Hope for the best, plan for the worst. Make sure your tenants are aware of all emergency exits in your building as well as fire drill procedures.
Parking: With parties and out-of-town guests, the holidays often bring an increased need for parking. When cars create makeshift spots and cram into the lot, it forces others to squeeze through, upping the risk of fender benders—especially when ice and snow are involved. Be sure your residents know where available guest parking spots are, and tell them it’s their responsibility to find alternative parking when the lot is full. You could also encourage renters to consider carpooling options for their visitors.
Property Safety: Also, let your tenants know that, sadly, the holidays are a time of increased theft and robbery. Even with the seasonal busy-ness, it’s important that residents stick to their usual precautions. Locked doors and windows go a long way toward discouraging burglars. If they are going away to visit relatives, they should leave a light on (on a timer), and stop mail or newspaper delivery. In your community update, advise renters not to announce their travel plans on social media.
How Property Vista Helps
Our tenant portal makes it a snap for you to post announcements online for tenants so they can stay up to date of the latest happenings around the property. You can create your communications ahead of time, and then simply program them to go out at specific times. At Property Vista we help you improve operations and build business value. See pricing and book a demo here.