Maintenance plans are not all created equal. People in each region of the the U.S. have to adjust to their needs according to their environment.
For instance, maintenance plans in Bangor, Maine will be drastically different from those in Anaheim, California. The weather is different in both regions throughout the year. The United States is made of five major climate regions:
- Northeast has bitterly cold winters and semi-humid summers.
- Southeast could best be described as sub-tropical, with pretty warm winters and sweltering summers.
- Midwest has rough winters, beautiful spring and fall, while the summer tends to be hot and humid.
- Southwest has mild temperatures during the winter, but temperatures drop at night. The summers tend to be very hot and dry.
- Northwest has a robust rainy season from October to March.
Preparing Your Property for Harsh Winters
If you live in a region that tends to get frigid winters, like in the Northeast and Midwest, you can take many preventative maintenance measures to keep everything running smoothly at your property. During the fall, before it gets too cold, make sure to have your boilers or furnaces serviced and ready for the winter. Under landlord-tenant law, access to heating during the winter months is a fundamental right of every tenant, which means you can be fined if your heating units don’t work properly.
Fall is a great time to prepare for winter conditions. To reduce heating bills, make sure the property is adequately insulated, and seal up all cracks and openings. Here’s a list of maintenance tasks to run through before the cold really hits:
- Check insulation, cracks and openings. Doing so will reduce heating bills and keep small rodents out.
- Inspect trees during the fall to assess whether they have the potential to fall due to snow and ice.
- Clean gutters to ensure that melting snow can drain properly.
As soon as winter hits, advise your tenants to keep the heat on — once the temperature hits freezing, pipes have the potential to freeze. Remind them to keep their heat on throughout the winter, even if they’re away.
Spring Cleaning Your Property
Spring is the perfect season to inspect your property from any winter damage as well as prepare for the summer heat. With snow and ice melting, moisture may have worked its way into your foundation. After winter has passed, inspect your foundation and look for any signs of weakness, like cracks and heaving.
Summer is air conditioning season, so remember to change your AC filters. This is a great time to schedule your annual HVAC inspections as well.
Getting Ready for the Rainy Season
If you live in a region that gets a lot of rain, such as the Pacific Northwest, there are certain measure you need to take to avoid storm damage. Run a hose through your gutters to make sure they’re clear and won’t be clogged during a storm.
Check for signs of leakage. Look for peeling paint and watermarks on your ceilings and walls. Don’t forget to check the roof for loose, curled or missing shingles. When it comes to doors and windows, check for proper sealing. Make sure they all shut properly, and inspect the caulking around windows, reapplying when necessary.
Handling the Humidity
If your property is in a high humidity zone such as the South, be aware that humidity can actually cause damage to your homes. The moisture often calls for concern in basements and crawl spaces, which should be covered with polyethylene or another thick, solid vapor barrier that can guard against moisture from the ground. Otherwise, the moisture can create more significant problems.
Humidity may also develop condensation on toilet tanks and water pipes, which may lead to mildew and mold problems. Consider installing waterproof insulation inside toilet tanks, and wrap insulation around your water pipes to reduce condensation.
Whether your property is in a humid area or a region with high temperatures but a dry heat, be sure to invest in a good air conditioning unit this summer. Air conditioning can help prevent damage that humidity causes and keep your tenants cool and happy.
Adapting Your Property Maintenance Plan to Your Environment
One of the most important tasks you have before you as a landlord is to keep up with your maintenance plan according to your area’s seasons. As long as you consider what your property and tenants might face throughout the seasons, you’ll be met with smiling faces and renewed leases on a regular basis.
Holly Welles is a real estate writer who covers property management and investing advice for publishers across the web. She also runs her own blog, The Estate Update, where she publishes market trends and tips.
Kathleen Richards, is the owner of LandlordSource and The Property Management Coach. With her 12 years as a broker/owner of a property management company she speaks from experience. Kathleen authored, Property Management A-Z and teaches regularly at community colleges and conferences on property management topics. She is active in her field and holds professional designations as Master Property Manager (MPM®) and Residential Management Professional (RMP®) and her company held the coveted, Certified Residential Management Company (CRMC®) designation from NARPM®. She is currently a National Instructor for NARPM® and is honored to be sharing best practices with other NARPM® professionals. Kathleen has served at the local and state level on the boards for NARPM® (National Association of Residential Property Managers). LandlordSource provides products and systems to simplify your life and The Property Management Coach (aka: me) provides the support to help you achieve your goals.
Disclaimer: LandlordSource does not represent the article content in this newsletter as legal advice. It is shared information only and up to the reader to use this information responsibly, seeking legal advice as necessary to their business.