How to Winterize Your Rental Property

How to Winterize Your Rental Property

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Regardless of which part of the country we live in, the vast majority of Canadians cannot ignore the onset of winter. The sharply declining temperatures, the howling wind and falling snow can wreak havoc on any home. That goes double for a rental property, which may not get the same love and attention afforded to other properties. As the landlord, you must prepare your rental property for the onset of winter to keep your tenants and your investment safe.

Table of Contents - How to Winterize Your Rental Property

It's time to winterize.

What is winterizing?

Traditionally speaking, winterizing comes in two primary forms. The first type of winterizing helps you prep your property for winter, even as tenants are occupying it. You'll still need to do some preliminary preparation, but you can rely on your tenants to handle the day-to-day tasks involved in protecting your home.

If, however, you intend to keep your rental property vacant through the winter, you'll need to take extra precautions to ensure that you're not shelling out big bucks on repairs and cleaning when spring rolls around.

Talk your tenants through the process

You must keep your tenants informed on the steps you're taking to winterize your home. Not only will this minimize surprises and discomfort on the part of both parties, but it will offer you an opportunity to remind them of precautions they can take to stay safe, warm and dry during the winter. They’ll likely feel grateful that you’re taking precautions to keep them protected and will be eager to follow instructions to avoid a winter disaster.

Start with the pipes

The first (and likely most important) step you can take to winterize your home is to address the possibility of freezing water pipes. When icy winter weather causes the water in your pipes to freeze, the pipes can burst and flood parts of your property. Even if you don't find yourself standing in ankle-deep water after a place floods, fixing a burst pipe near your home is no picnic.

Make sure to shut off any faucets on the exterior of your property and then cover them with simple Styrofoam covers. Exposed pipes should be wrapped in insulated sleeves. Consider running your faucets with dripping lukewarm water. This simple step allows water to continue flowing even in the dead of winter.

Safety is essential

More than any other time of the year, it's crucial to preserve the safety of your rental property in the winter, even if it’s vacant. Start by inspecting your home's exterior walkways and make any repairs necessary to ensure that you, your tenants or anyone on the property aren't prone to slips when navigating the property.

In addition to protecting against icy walkways, you'll also want to combat the extra hours of darkness. Make an effort to visit your rental property after dark to ensure that there is enough outdoor lighting to provide maximum visibility during the darkest time of the year.

Keep the heat running

Even if you're planning on leaving your home vacant for the duration of the season, it's essential to keep the interior temperature of your rental property at a minimum of 13 degrees Celsius. If the property is too cold, vital components in your home could freeze and cause damage, particularly kitchen and bathroom pipes. These pipes typically aren’t insulated. Keep the cabinets open to allow heat to circulate the pipes.

If you’ll be away all winter, consider investing in a smart thermostat that you can control remotely. As outside temperatures change throughout the season, you can update the heat inside your property.

Inspect the HVAC system and the roof

Before your rental property is forced to endure the harshest weather of the year, you should have two basic features inspected: the HVAC system and the roof. You'll need the HVAC system in good working order to keep your house from freezing, and you'll need your roof ready to keep your home warm and dry when the snow starts to fall.

What's more, you will find that HVAC issues, and roofing issues, in particular, are especially tricky to fix when the weather is at its worst. The sooner you can address any problems the better. It's worthwhile to call in a pro for a visual inspection, especially if you're planning on keeping your rental property vacant.

Order a fireplace inspection

If you have a fireplace or stove designed to burn wood or pellets, it's important to have a professional inspect and sweep your chimney. Regardless of whether or not you plan to have tenants in your rental property throughout the winter, an annual chimney cleaning can prolong the life of your chimney. More importantly, it will keep your tenants and your property safe from potential fire hazards.

Defend against rodents and bugs

For the most part, rodents and other pests don't want to be in your home any more than you want them there. They prefer to hunt outside. However, when the temperature drops and their natural food sources diminish, several animals turn their attention to the food sources readily available in your home.

To mitigate the chances of your rental property becoming the winter home for a family of rodents, start by taking a visual inspection of your property's exterior and sealing any openings big enough for a rodent to sneak through. If your property will be vacant, remove as much food as possible and leave the rest sealed in air-tight containers. If you have tenants, ask them to make sure to keep an eye out for the telltale signs of infestation: holes chewed in food packages, droppings on the floor, etc.

Keep your vacant rental property in shape

When you're leaving your rental property empty during the winter, you'll still need to check on the property. Small issues that arise on your rental property over the winter can turn into big problems if left untended for long stretches. Consider turning off the water to your home in addition to the other precautions you've taken. Finally, check the integrity of your rental property's window and door locks to keep out unwanted visitors.

Canada’s winters are harsh, but trained real estate investors plan for the worst to properly winterize their properties.

How To Winterize Your Home


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Scott Dillingham

Scott Dillingham

I have been investing and lending to real estate investors for nearly 10 years now. After thousands of successful deals between flips, rent to owns, student properties and commercial assets I have developed a deep knowledge of real estate investments and have a passion of sharing this information with the world! If your looking for a lender who specializes in rental property financing you're going to want to connect with me at team@lendcity.ca.