Property Management in Winter: Guide for Landlords and Property Managers in Canada

Managing rental properties in Canada during the winter can be rigorous due to the harsh weather conditions. This article will provide a all inclusive guide to help landlords manage their rental properties during the winter season, ensuring tenant satisfaction and property preservation.

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    Pre-Winter Maintenance Checklist for Landlords and Property Managers in Canada

    Inspection of the Property’s Exterior

    As the days get shorter in winter, check out the outdoor lighting and motion lights so that the occupants do not have any accidents, such as slip and fall and can see their way through the ice.

    Check out the brickwork in the walls, doors and windows of the house to see any damaged bricks and repair them to avoid leaks and further damage. If there are any gaps or cracks in doors or windows, it could let cold air in. Use weather stripping or caulking to secure the gaps.

    Inspection and Maintainance of the Roof, Chimney and Gutters

    Check out whether there are any missing or loose shingles or any weak spots to avoid leaking roofs in winter or roof collapse due to heavy snowfall. Clean out the Chimney before the fireplace is used.Inspect your gutter and clean out any leaves or debris to prevent ice dam formation, and so everything drains properly in Spring. Jammed gutters can cause water damage to the house if the water is overflowing or not draining properly.

    Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) System

    Ensure that the heating system is in top condition. Regular maintenance can prevent sudden problems. Set the thermostat to a reasonable temperature and educate tenants on its proper use. Insulate The pipes and ductwork should be well to prevent heat loss and risk of frozen pipes.
    You can inform the tenants to keep the heat on, especially if they are leaving the property for some time, to prevent pipes from freezing.

    Insulation and Weatherproofing

    Proper insulation and weatherproofing are essential to keep the property warm and energy-efficient. Inspect the doors and windows for any drafts and seal any gaps appropriately. You can consider adding insulation to the attic and walls. Use Caulking, weather-stripping, and draft snakes to make the property as much draft-proof as possible.

    This will not only keep the property warm but also save on energy costs of heating up to 30%, according to research. Learn more about insulating and weatherproofing your home by clicking here.

    Plumbing and Irrigation Systems

    Frozen pipes, burst pipes and flooding are common issues in winter. Insulate the pipes in unheated areas such as basements and attics. Advise tenants to let faucets in the Kitchen or the Toilets drip during extremely cold weather to prevent freezing. Check for cracks, leaks or any wear and tear and fix them promptly.

    For sprinkler systems, winterizing is the only option. This is to drain the system and then blow out the remaining water with compressed air.

    Insurance Review

    As a landlord, review your insurance coverage. Make sure you have adequate protection against winter-related damage, such as burst pipes or roof leaks.

    Emergency Preparedness

    Prepare for emergencies by having an emergency kit ready, including flashlights, extra blankets, and non-perishable food items. Share emergency contact information with your tenants, and ensure they know how to turn off utilities in case of a problem.

    Challenges Faced with Rental Properties in Winter in Canada

    Snow Removal from Roofs and Sidewalks

    Snow accumulation on roofs and sidewalks can pose significant risks. Heavy, wet snow can strain a roof’s structural integrity, potentially leading to damage or collapse. Tenants have a high chance of getting injured due to icy and slippery sidewalks in the winter. The outdoor stairs or emergency exits might get blocked after a heavy snowfall, obstructing quick evacuation in an emergency.


    Additionally, ice dams, formed when snow melts and refreezes at the roof’s edge, can cause leaks and water damage inside the property.

    Solutions

    ● Hire professional snow removal services to clear roofs and sidewalks after snowfall.

    ● Invest in heated gutter systems to prevent ice dams and snow buildup on roofs.

    ● Provide ample salt and snow shovels for tenants to clear sidewalks and walkways.

    ● Schedule regular inspections after snowstorms to identify and address potential issues.

    ● Develop a snow removal plan in advance, specifying responsibilities and timelines.

    Heat Pump Maintenance and Repair

    Heating systems, like heat pumps, often work harder during the winter. Regular maintenance and repairs are necessary to keep properties warm and energy-efficient.

    Solutions

    ● Schedule annual maintenance for heat pumps before the winter season.

    ● Encourage tenants to replace air filters regularly to maintain system efficiency.

    ● Have a list of reliable HVAC technicians on hand for prompt repairs.

    ● Educate tenants on properly using thermostats to optimize heating and reduce energy consumption.

    Frozen Pipes

    Frozen pipes can result in water damage, burst pipes, and costly repairs. Preventing freezing is vital for the well-being of your property.

    Solutions

    ● Insulate pipes in vulnerable areas, such as basements and attics.

    ● Encourage tenants to let faucets drip during extreme cold to keep water flowing.

    ● Provide tenants with guidelines on what to do if they suspect frozen pipes.

    ● Have a list of plumbers ready to respond to emergencies quickly.

    By addressing these common winter challenges proactively, property managers and landlords can ensure the safety, comfort, and preservation of their properties throughout the winter season in Canada.

    Holiday Safety in the Winters in Canada

    Winter Holidays brings its own set of safety concerns, not only outside but also within your property. While you may have already done your part by sending out a holiday safety reminder in a newsletter to your tenants, it’s essential to maintain active vigilance.

    Assess the Decorations

    Ensure that the festive adornments on your property are non-conductive, non-combustible, and flame retardant. If holiday lights are not under supervision, they should be switched off. Moreover, be cautious with decorative plants like poinsettias and mistletoe, keeping them out of the reach of children and pets due to their potential toxicity and choking hazards.

    Keep an Eye on Tree Disposal

    Not all tenants will handle their Christmas trees properly. Continuously monitor the garbage and recycling areas for any scattered trees or tree branches that could pose safety risks to pedestrians or vehicles.

    While you can’t directly oversee the safety of a tenant’s holiday decorations inside their unit, it’s a wise move to conduct an informative session in early December.

    Follow up with a written summary highlighting crucial safety points. This ensures that safety guidelines remain fresh in the minds of your tenants as they set up their decorations, reinforcing the fact that you’ve taken the necessary steps to protect them.

    Why is Remote Property Management Important in the Cold Season?

    Property management becomes crucially demanding during the cold season in Canada. Remote property management, which involves using technology and efficient processes to oversee properties from a distance, is significant during the winter months. Here are some reasons why remote property management is vital in the cold season:

    Tenant Comfort and Satisfaction

    Tenants appreciate responsive property management, especially during the cold season. Remote property management allows for swift responses to maintenance requests, increasing tenant satisfaction and retention.

    Reduced Operational Costs

    Remote property management can save costs by reducing the need for on-site property managers and staff. By efficiently monitoring and addressing issues from a remote location, property managers can streamline operations and cut labour costs for their residential and commercial properties.

    Minimizing Property Damage

    Regular property inspections are necessary to identify issues like roof damage or frozen pipes. Remote property management allows property managers to schedule and conduct inspections without physical presence. Identifying and addressing problems earlier can prevent extensive property damage.

    Efficient Snow and Ice Removal

    Snow and ice accumulation are common challenges in the cold season. Remote property management enables property managers to coordinate and monitor snow removal and salting services efficiently. This ensures that walkways and driveways are cleared promptly, reducing the risk of accidents and tenant complaints.

    Immediate Response to Winter Emergencies

    During winter, emergencies can occur at anytime, from burst pipes to heating system failures. Remote property management allows property managers and landlords to monitor alarms and receive real-time alerts, ensuring swift response to urgent situations. This can prevent extensive damage and inconvenience to tenants.

    Compliance with Regulations

    During the cold season, property managers must adhere to specific regulations, such as snow removal ordinances and heating system requirements. Remote property management systems can help property managers stay informed about local regulations and ensure compliance.

    MiPropertyPortal (MIPP) is a Canadian Property Management Software made exclusively for Canadian Landlords and Property Managers to manage rental properties in any season remotely. Mipp can help with tracking maintenance, scheduling snow removal services, and facilitating communication with tenants.

    Property Maintenance Tracking Features:

    ● Automated Ticket Routing

    ● Service Request Reports

    ● Maintenance Watchlists

    ● Status Update Notifications

    ● Create Work/Purchase orders

    ● Create Service Categories

    With the services offered by MIPP, you can easily request any repairs or service with some clicks. Click here to get a free demo of the best property management tool in Canada.

    Conclusion

    Being a successful property manager or landlord during the Canadian winter requires planning, regular maintenance, and staying informed about the latest regulations and best practices. By doing so, you not only protect your investment but also create a comfortable and safe environment for your tenants.

    Remember, winter in Canada can be harsh, but it can also be an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to your properties and your tenants. Stay proactive, communicate effectively, and always be prepared for whatever the winter season may bring.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    Yes, landlords are typically responsible for snow removal on walkways and driveways to ensure tenant safety.

    Arrange for immediate repairs to the heating system to ensure your tenant's comfort and safety.

    Insulate pipes in unheated areas and advise tenants to let faucets drip during extremely cold weather to prevent freezing.

    Landlords are legally obligated to provide heating, maintain the property, and address repairs promptly during the winter months.

    It's advisable to have the heating system serviced annually before the winter season begins.

    An emergency kit should include flashlights, extra blankets, non-perishable food items, and a list of emergency contacts.

    Yes, you can include heating costs in the rent, or you can specify it as a separate utility cost in the lease agreement.

    Communicate the importance of the inspection for safety and property preservation. If the tenant still refuses, consult local landlord-tenant laws for guidance on how to proceed.

    Contact the local utility company to report the outage and inform your tenants. Provide them with safety tips and an estimate of when the power will be restored.

    Proper insulation and ventilation in the attic can help prevent ice dams. Ensure the roof is well-maintained to avoid leaks and structural damage.

    Common winter hazards include slip and fall accidents due to icy walkways, frozen pipes, heating system failures, and roof damage from snow and ice.

    While not mandatory, having an emergency evacuation plan is a wise safety precaution. Share the plan with your tenants so they know what to do in case of a fire or other emergencies.

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