The arrival of winter often highlights all the home maintenance jobs you didn’t manage to get to before the rain came — painting, restaining a deck, cleaning gutters or servicing your heating source. And if the house in question is a rental property you own, you may be the last to learn the work is needed.
Let this list of winter maintenance tasks serve as a reminder of what you may have missed (or not be aware needs doing) at your investment property. Attending to each task routinely can help you retain your tenants for longer (reducing turnover costs) and avoid costly repair bills.
Servicing your heat source
Whether your rental property is equipped with a wood-burning fireplace, heat pump(s), or stand-alone heaters, there is likely some level of servicing or upkeep required for the heat source.
Fireplaces need an annual chimney sweep, ideally during drier months for ease of roof access. This removes built-up creosote deposits from the flue, reducing the risk of a chimney fire and allowing the fireplace to operate as it should with unencumbered airflow for a better draw.
Heat pumps need servicing by trained air conditioning technicians. Professionals recommend regular cleaning by the unit owner and an annual professional service. This keeps the warranty valid for any issues that may present themselves, it keeps the heat pump working efficiently, smelling right, and reduces the risk of failure and the need for repairs.
If your tenants depend on fixed electric heaters, having these plug-in devices tested and tagged can offer peace of mind that you’ve done all you can to reduce fire risk. If you think it’s a step too far, read this.
How to minimise mould in your rental property
Mould does nothing to retain tenants and left unchecked it can wage war on window fittings, carpets, and furniture. Landlords and tenants need to work together to fight mould.
While ensuring they’re meeting their Healthy Homes obligations, landlords can make the fight against mould easier for tenants with the likes of kitchen and bathroom extractor fans to improve ventilation. Tenants can play a large day-to-day role, while landlords must be realistic in their expectations (e.g., windows cannot be left open while tenants are at work if there are no safety locks on them, etc).
Here are some measures tenants can take to fend off mould:
- Keeping windows and doors open as much as possible to allow the home to dry out
- Condensation on windows can be removed with a window vacuum or wiped away
- Where possible, leave a gap between furniture and walls to allow airflow, especially beds
- Leave mould-prone wardrobes, drawers, and cupboards slightly ajar
- If washing must be dried inside, leave a window open so moisture can escape
- Open curtains to let the sunlight in
- Pots should be covered on the stove and extractor fans used or windows opened where possible
- Bathroom extractor fans should be left on for a few minutes after bathing to remove as much moisture as possible
Clear the gutters and trim any branches overhanging your roof
Gutters are usually out of site and out of mind until they are clogged with leaves and start overflowing. The idea of gutters is to obviously carry the water off the roof and away to the stormwater drain. But when blocked gutters overflow the water can sometimes penetrate soffits and behind exterior cladding which may lead to rot, mould, and the depths of despair for you and your tenants.
Get your ladder, bucket and gutter scoop out and safely remove the organic matter yourself, or find someone else to do the job for you. The verdict on cat’s whiskers and similar devices is still out — some swear by them while others think they only exacerbate the problem.
Staying on top of property maintenance is encouraged by communication
Preventative maintenance isn’t always as easy as it sounds and relying on tenants to stay abreast of necessary repairs isn’t a sure thing. A professional property management service can help you stay on top of your property and take the stress out of finding and maintaining good tenancies.
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