Owning Portland rental property means preparing for Portland winters. In our part of the country, winter weather can be expected to arrive around the middle of November, and it sticks around until the middle of March. While we don’t have extreme periods of cold, snow, and ice, we do have to be ready for those things. Typically, our daytime temperatures will be in the 40s or the 50s. Rarely does the temperature dip below the freezing mark, but it will happen at least a handful of times during a typical winter. The freezing weather can even last for a few days.
In this blog, we’re going to cover some of the preventative maintenance issues you’ll need to prepare for as the winter approaches.
Portland Property Management: Inspect and Service Heating Units
Your Portland residents will certainly need heat throughout the fall and the winter, so make sure your furnace and heating units are working the way they should be. We are big proponents of having your entire HVAC system serviced twice a year. If you do it before the season’s change, you can be sure the heating unit is ready for winter.
Schedule your local HVAC technician to come out to your rental properties to inspect, clean, and service the furnace, vents, and full heating unit. This will prevent a problem during the winter. You don’t want to be fielding phone calls from freezing tenants who are complaining about their lack of heat. Get ahead of that potential problem.
When you’re scheduling, try to get someone out in September or October so you can be sure your system will be all set for the cold season.
Check for Water Intrusion and Shore Up Insulation
Water will damage a rental property faster than anything else. Before winter sets in, check and clean the gutters at your property. You’re looking for any debris that might have gathered. If your gutters are clogged, you run the risk of attracting pests and pushing water into the property. That’s going to lead to bigger and more expensive problems.
After you’ve had the gutters cleaned out, check the roof as well. You want to make sure there isn’t a lot of debris, and you also want to look for water intrusion indications. Make sure there aren’t any holes or missing shingles.
You also want to make sure your rental property or your building is well-insulated. Inspect the windows and doors. Trim back any tree branches or bushes that might break windows during a winter storm.
Local Property Management Safety Systems
Before winter arrives, take the time to check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. You want to be sure the batteries are changed and that these detectors are functional. Check your fire extinguishers as well and make sure your tenants are aware of safety procedures and evacuation routes in the event of a major weather event. You’ll want them to understand the process of reporting problems, and if they lose power, make sure to have a plan in place. You want to keep your property habitable. Give your tenants all the information and resources they need to feel safe and comfortable throughout the winter. Make sure they know what to do if the pipes freeze, for example.
Landscaping and Lawn Care for the Winter
If you’re renting out a single-family home or if you have a multi-unit property with a lot of outdoor space, make sure you prepare the landscaping for colder weather. You probably won’t need to water the lawn as much, and mowing will not have to be done nearly as frequently as during the spring and summer months. This is a good time to add fertilizer to your grass to prepare it for growth in the spring. Trim back any dead leaves or branches and bring in any flowers or plants that cannot survive colder temperatures.
Your irrigation system is one of the most likely places for a pipe to burst or freeze. Before the temperatures begin to drop, make sure you’ve drained all the water out of your lawn sprinklers. While you’re taking care of the exterior sprinklers, make sure you winterize any of your plumbing and pipes in unheated parts of the building. If you’re renting out a multi-family building in Portland, check common areas such as pools and clubhouses and consider covering any pipes that might be at risk with insulation. It’s fairly inexpensive and will provide extra peace of mind.
Outdoor pools should be covered and off-limits as soon as the fall weather sets in. Start by giving the pool a good cleaning and remove any floating or loose accessories. Flush the filter and lower the water level. You’ll want to make sure you drain the filter, the pump, and any heater you might use as well as the equipment that delivers chlorine to the water. Empty the chemical feeder and apply the cover. Make sure it’s secure and that any gates or fences leading to the pool are locked.
You’ll need to take a few additional steps outside if you’re renting out an apartment building or a series of units in a complex. For example, the winter will require some cleaning and upkeep in terms of outdoor furniture, grills, and community areas like tennis courts or basketball courts. Don’t leave anything outside that could be damaged. Inspect the surrounding area for weak tree limbs and potential hazards.
Snow is unlikely. In the Portland metropolitan area, we get an average of four or five inches of the fluffy stuff every year. Typically, we’ll have wet slush and rain rather than snow. But, you want to be prepared. Make sure you have contractors or staff in place to handle the removal of snow and ice. You have to think about the liability that comes with an untreated surface in or around your property. If a tenant or a tenant’s guest falls and gets hurt, you could be liable. Make sure all surfaces are treated with salt, sand, or something that will make paths and steps less dangerous.
Budget for Heating Costs and Maintenance
If you’re a multi-family landlord who pays for the utilities and includes that in the rent or bills the amount back to tenants, you’ll have to decide what this means for winter bills. Heating costs will go up during the winter months. Make sure your property is well-insulated so you don’t lose money. Talk to your tenants about keeping the heat on even if they’re not home. You want the thermostat to stay at 50 to 55 degrees to ensure pipes don’t freeze.
When you’re preparing to winterize, you have to think about your maintenance budget. There will not necessarily be more expenses during the winter, but the things you pay attention to will be a little bit different.
One of the best ways to protect your rental investments during the winter months is by working with a professional Portland property management company. We know what to expect from the winter months in Portland, and we know what your property and your residents will require to stay safe and comfortable. We’ll protect the condition of your home and keep it well-maintained. For more information, please contact us at PropM, Inc.