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  • Writer's pictureKeith Wood

How to Prep Your Rental for Fall

The heat and sun haven’t gone anywhere so it’s hard to believe fall or winter will arrive anytime soon. We’ve had many years with a few days of fall weather in late October or early November and a few cold days in January. Fall doesn’t really mean anything here on the Emerald Coast other than it’s the time between summer tourists leaving and winter vacationers arriving.

As a landlord, seasonal changes are a good time to get your home ready for the next big temperature change and make sure everything's running smoothly for your tenants. When you stay on top of property maintenance, you reduce unnecessary late-night phone calls and potential damage later. We might not have a typical fall around here, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to think about fall prep for your rental.

Inspect the Property

Give your tenants plenty of notice and let them know what you’ll be looking at during your inspection. When you don’t communicate with your tenants, they can and often will imagine the worst or worry needlessly. Let them know you’re not there to snoop, only to make sure there are no issues that you need to address. Ask them for a list of any problems they’ve noticed, big or small, so you can add it to your maintenance list to get it fixed.

For the season change coming up, pay special attention to a few things:

● Gutters and downspouts - who in the lease is responsible for cleaning them?

● Roof

● Fireplace and chimney, if applicable

● Safety features like locks, smoke detectors, etc.

● Pool - is it time to winterize it, and according to the lease, who’s responsible for this?

Perform Necessary Maintenance

Some of your maintenance will be based on your inspection. Have necessary repairs made to the roof, gutters, chimney, and any other parts of the home that could easily be damaged or create problems in winter weather. The last thing you want to do is worry about a leak or other problem during the cold rainy weather in January or February.

Other maintenance that should be part of your fall prep:

HVAC maintenance: After heavy use during the summer, have a service company check out the air conditioning/heating system and make sure it’s running well for the coming winter.

Fireplace maintenance: Make sure the chimney is cleaned and well-maintained in case tenants decide to use the fireplace during the winter.

Insulation and weather-stripping: Keeping drafts and cold air out of the home doesn’t just help tenants save on their energy costs and keep them comfortable, it keeps pests, bugs, and wet weather out of the property.

Pest service: Spraying for pests, inspecting the property for termites and other problems, and preventative measures help maintain your property and reduce calls from tenants dealing with pests.

Yard and Landscaping

Prepping the yard and lawn for fall will either be the responsibility of your tenant or you, depending on how the lease is written. If it’s up to the tenant, an inspection will help pinpoint the issues they need to focus on. Whether you’re going to get the yard and landscaping ready or your tenants will do it, here are a few items to focus on:

● Apply fresh mulch in the fall. This will help protect plants when the cold weather arrives.

● Trim trees and bushes to protect the exterior of the home in bad weather. You don’t want branches too close to windows or the roof.

● Reduce mowing as the weather cools off. Until the grass goes dormant, it will still need to be done periodically.

● Rake leaves and other debris from the lawn.

● Clean gutters and downspouts so rain can flow easily.

It doesn’t matter if your rental property is vacant or you’ve got long-term tenants, your rental needs to be prepped for upcoming seasonal changes. How much your tenants must do and what you take care of will be determined by your lease agreement and any other agreement you make with your tenants. If you make an agreement outside of the lease, get it in writing! Remember, your renters want a safe, warm place to live and with guidance, most will do what they can to get the property ready.

Ultimately, though, it’s your responsibility to make sure a home is habitable, safe, well-maintained, and able to handle the changing of the seasons. Make sure you take care of your rental properties before the cold weather arrives, and you’ll make life easier for you and your tenants during the winter.

Need help taking care of your rental property and dealing with tenants? Work with a reputable, knowledgeable property management company. ERA American Real Estate will take care of your home and tenants in any season. Contact us today.

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