Although the holiday season may seem months away, right now, family gatherings, office parties, and extended shopping hours will soon be upon us! One thing to watch out for during the winter months is the possibility of dicey weather conditions and additional demands on your time and resources. While Austin landlords rarely need to concern themselves with problems like freezing water pipes and snow accumulations, it is essential to prepare yourself and your rental properties for unexpected winter storms and chilly temperatures.
When it gets down to the low forties, which is typical for the months of December, January, and February, you and your tenants will be glad you took a few basic steps to prevent heating problems, plumbing emergencies, and safety issues. Few Austinites will forget the impact of last February’s Arctic cold front, dubbed the “Great Plains Arctic Blast,” which walloped many parts of Texas with snow, sleet, freezing temperature, power outages, road closures, and a host of other weather-related problems. Austin got hit with a record low temperature of 8 degrees on February 15th, which caused landlords a variety of maintenance calls, heating complaints, and unexpected expenses. According to the Texas Tribune, the snowstorm affected all 254 counties in Texas.
Annual furnace maintenance pays off. There’s a direct correlation between a well-maintained HVAC system (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) and happy tenants. Your life will also be less hectic when you’re getting fewer emergency calls for things like inadequate heat or a malfunctioning furnace or boiler. To help prevent problems, it’s a good policy to have HVAC systems professionally checked, oiled, and cleaned on a seasonal basis or at least annually. One useful thing you can easily do yourself is to change the air filter every few months, depending on how much dust gets drawn into the system and whether the previous or current tenant owns pets – especially breeds that shed. Keeping your HVAC systems well maintained can help them last longer, reduce repair costs, and minimize tenant complaints. It’s the old “ounce of prevention” principle!
Cleaning out rain gutters: Clogged and overflowing rain gutters can cause a variety of problems, including damage to your building’s foundation, fascia boards, and roof soffits. Rainwater that’s not strategically routed away from your rental units and landscaping features, like flower gardens, bushes, and retaining walls, can also cause soil erosion, plant damage, and concrete cracking.
Winterizing windows and doors: Simple things like putting up storm windows in the late fall, caulking poorly sealed windows, and attaching vinyl or aluminum door sweeps at the bottom of doors can help ensure energy-efficient rental properties and happy tenants.
Winter weather readiness: Thankfully, snow and icy conditions are rare in Austin, but they have been known to sneak up on us when we least expect it! For that reason, it’s advisable to have a “snow emergency plan” in place, which could include having a property management company handle weather related emergencies. Tenants generally expect landlords to clear away snow and ice from driveways, parking lots, and walkways, but since it happens so infrequently in Austin, it’s easy to be caught off guard!
If seasonal maintenance and other landlord responsibilities are proving to be overwhelming for you, give us a call at PMI Austin. Our professional property management services, which cover nearly everything from tenant screening and rent collection to handling maintenance requests and repairs, can make your life easier and help you avoid the pitfalls of rental property ownership. We can also provide you and your tenants with the convenience of a 24/7 online portal, and assist with property marketing, financial reporting, and move-in/move-out inspections. If you have any questions, we’d be happy to schedule a free consultation!