Dealing with winter maintenance issues

By Michael Mata | 09 Apr 2018

With the winter months just around the corner, it’s important for landlords and property managers to ensure that their investment properties are in tiptop condition.

All kinds of dangers lurk in poorly maintained investment properties—and storms, hail stones, and water damage only exacerbate these dangers, according to Carolyn Parrella, executive manager at landlord insurance specialist Terri Scheer Insurance.

“Prevention is much better – and often cheaper – than [a] cure. At this time of year landlords and property managers should take the time to assess any potential or existing issues at their investment properties,” Parrella said.

“Winter’s seasonal conditions could escalate maintenance issues and cause damage which is expensive to repair, and put a tenant’s safety at risk, creating potential for the landlord to be legally liable.”

When undertaking winter-related property maintenance, landlords and property managers should consider prioritising the following:

1. Clear clogged gutters.

One of the most commonplace winter maintenance issues is clogged gutters. If left unaddressed, this can lead to severe leaking and water damage, as well as severe damage to the home’s exterior, landscaping, and foundation.

“Landlords should ensure that gutters are free from leaves, twigs and other debris,” Parrella said.

2. Inspect and repair fences.

Ensure that footings are stable, and that fence panels, regardless of material, are in great condition. 

“Landlords should check with neighbouring property owners if shared or boundary fences are in need of repair, as they may be a joint responsibility,” Parrella added.

3. Check for cracked/loose roof panels and tiles.

Poorly-maintained roof panels and tiles could cause leaking and water damage, which can spread quickly to other areas of the property. 

“Look for rotting or water damaged eaves, as they can lead to salt damp on interior and exterior walls,” Parrella said.

4. Prune loose or dead tree branches.

Hanging or dead tree branches could injure tenants if they fall during strong winds.

“Check if there are any branches that overhang the building and consider pruning,” Parrella said. “This maintenance can be dangerous, and while it may incur a nominal cost, it could be worthwhile bringing in the professional to ensure both your safety and that of your tenants.”

5. Get rid of condensation and mould.

Mould isn’t just unsightly as it could also pose a health risk to tenants if let unaddressed.

“Pay close attention to wet areas during property inspections and act quickly if mould appears to be forming,” Parrella said.

Damp and mould tends to worsen during the winter months. “This is due to condensation, often caused by heated roofs with poor or no ventilation and wet clothes drying on a clothes airer.”

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