These tips will help you maintain your properties amidst spring weather changes.
For many of us, “springing forward” into Daylight Savings Time is when we leave winter behind.
This year, it arrives March 10. Whether you invest in areas that experience dramatic or moderate temperature shifts, the following tips will help you stay on top of routine maintenance and avoid major expenditures.
1. Examine your property’s exterior from top to bottom
Remove dead trees, trim bushes and clean up the yard.Removing hazardous trees and limbs will help you avoid a downed tree or costly roof puncture when spring storms arrive. Clean up the yard and fill in any small sinkholes to keep tenants or their guests from injury. The same goes for all driveways, walkways, stairs, and decks. Look for any trip hazards or signs of wear-and-tear and promptly remedy them. Make sure all guardrails are up-to-code and securely in place. Slip-and-falls are one of the most common liability claims we see for real estate investors.
After the yard is tidy, turn your attention to the property’s exterior. A solid roof and clean gutters are key in keeping spring rains from ruining paint and sheetrock on the inside. Downspouts should route water at least three feet into the yard, away from your foundation. Proper drainage can help you keep the right moisture level in the soil next to your foundation. It’s an easy fix that can save you a bundle in foundation repairs.
2. Make sure all fire protection devices are in working order
Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms should be tested monthly to make sure they are consistently working. Daylight Savings Time is an easy marker to remember for changing batteries and replacing alarms that are 10 years old or older. Lastly, fire extinguishers should be checked and maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
3. Survey the interior for maintenance items
Doing an interior inspection once a quarter encourages your tenants to keep the property in good shape and can help you uncover issues when they may be easier and less expensive to remedy. Regular maintenance can also help larger systems like your HVAC last longer, saving you money over time. Complete these maintenance tasks this spring:
- Check that all electrical outlets are operational to keep electrical hazards at bay.
- Clean the space under the dryer and dryer exhaust vents to prevent a fire.
- Check washer supply lines to be sure there are no leaks.
- Have the AC inspected and ducts cleaned by a professional.
- Check the water heater. It needs cleaning at least once a year to stay in top shape and extend its life.
- Test your sump pump to make sure it comes on when water is poured into the sump pit.
4. Take steps to lower your liability risk
With tenants likely to be outside and the potential for more frequent guests in the spring, it’s imperative to protect yourself from liability risks like:
- Slip-and-falls on uneven pavement damaged by winter weather
- Dog attacks
- Falling trees and limbs that damage others’ property and cause injuries
- Injuries on trampolines and play equipment
Take a walk around the exterior and interior of your property looking for potential problem areas and remedy them. Make sure tenants are following lease regulations, including pet policies. Foster open communication with tenants so they feel comfortable with you and see it as a priority to contact you if they discover a potential hazard in their living space.
5. Prepare for an increase in weather risks
Though you cannot stop a storm, a good mitigation plan can help alleviate the potential for mounting costs after a weather event. For example, mold is one of the most prevalent secondary forms of damage we see in the event of a water claim. Have fans on hand to dry out your property or a list of several pros to help you clean up amid a crisis. Make sure you have a good way to stay in touch with tenants during an emergency event, especially if someone is new to the area.
6. Shore up your insurance coverage
A periodic review with your insurance agent is always wise. Doing an insurance check-up can bring you greater peace of mind going into storm season and also help you better protect your property from risks that insurance may not cover. For example, certain types of coverage, like Flood coverage, will need to be purchased separately from your standard property coverage policy. Your agent should be happy to answer any coverage questions and deliver the best coverage solutions for your business model.