Winter has officially arrived, and property managers know that preventative maintenance is the best way to avoid a burst pipe when tenants are decking the halls.

While protecting pipes from bursting is high on the list of preventative winter maintenance, other seasonal preemptive care can keep fixtures from falling apart, tenants from icy slips and falls, plants from dying, and furnaces from shutting down.

Below is a list of friendly reminders for property managers to share with tenants to keep winterize your rental property and make it a safe, cozy winter for everyone.

Prevent Frozen Pipes

  • Disconnect and drain garden hoses.
  • Cover outside faucets with insulating foam covers.
  • Turn off the sprinkler system.
  • If the temperature drops below 20 degrees, keep one or two faucets running gently and continuously. When water is kept running through the system it prevents the line from freezing.
  • Open the cabinet under the kitchen sink and keep it open to allow warm air to flow around the pipes.
  • Cover exposed pipes (indoors and out) with insulating foam covers.
  • Have tenants contact the property manager immediately for further instruction if they suspect a pipe has frozen.
  • Have a plan in place to de-thaw a frozen pipe before it bursts.  This may include installing heating tubes along exposed pipes, asking your renters to point a space heater at the frozen pipe or hiring a professional to assess the situation,

Prep the Inside of a Rental Home for Winter

  • Turn ceiling fans on low in reverse (clockwise when you’re looking up) to circulate warm air.
  • Cover or remove your window air conditioners.
  • Inspect fireplaces and chimneys before using them. Have them cleaned if needed.

Prep the outside of a rental home for winter

  • Bring potted plants inside.
  • Cover any outdoor plants with insulating materials. Remember to remove it when the temperature rises above freezing.
  • Use a broom to brush snow off trees and plants after each snowfall to prevent breakage due to heavy snow buildup.

Manage Snow and Ice at Your Rental Property

Property managers should remind tenants of the local snow and ice removal laws in your area. If your lease agreement stipulates that the tenant is responsible for clearing snow from the public sidewalk in front of the property, remind them of their responsibility to do so. In some areas, if snow is not cleared within the designated timeframe and the city has to clear it for them, the property owner will be fined.

View the Complete Guide to Snow Removal Laws by State to understand your requirements for removing snow and ice from your rental property.

Likewise, remind tenants about acceptable de-icing measures. If your community prohibits the use of salt, consider synthetic deicing material, sand or kitty litter as alternatives.

If your renter experiences an ice dam on the roof’s eaves, ask them to notify you right away. Damage from ice dams can be costly and needs to be managed in a timely manner.

Additional Winterizing Reminders

  • Check your car’s antifreeze.
  • Add freeze-resistant windshield wiper fluid and spray the windshield a few times to circulate fluid in the lines.
  • Offer tenants these tips for saving money on heating bills this winter.

Additional steps property managers should take to protect your rental property in winter:

  • Clear debris from gutters to prevent water from backing up, which can cause leaks and ice dams or damage to the roof and siding.
  • Inspect attic ventilation and insulation and upgrade if needed.
  • Stay off the roof during freezing weather. Once the ice and snow have melted, inspect your roof for damage.
  • Check the property’s furnace or heating system before it starts working overtime to keep your renters warm.
  • Check smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarm batteries to make sure they are working properly.
  • Consider installing storm windows as an extra layer of protection for renters against the outdoor chill.