Renting and managing your own property means taking care of it, and with winter conditions, there’s a lot to do to keep the home or homes livable and in good repair. This is especially important in Washington, where high precipitation and winds usually mean a lot of damage to homes and roofs. Bellevue also has high standards for home repair and appearance, and you’ll have to keep those up despite the wear and tear of winter weather.
The following checklist will help you get your rental property ready for cold and icy weather, so you won’t have as many emergencies or problems to worry about.
Check the Pipes – Pipes and water supplies are the first place to damage when it starts to get cold. An inspection to ensure that everything is in order, that the pipes are sufficiently insulated, and that there are no leaks will prevent costly repair bills if a pipe splits, or pipes freeze and tenants don’t have any water. You can call the city (Bellevue) at 425-452-6973 to have water, sewer, and storm and surface water services turned on or off for the building.
Service the Furnace – A biannual inspection and servicing of the furnace or HVAC system is crucial to tenant safety. Ensuring that everything is in order, moving items away from the furnace, and cleaning or clearing ventilation shafts ensures that your furnace doesn’t become a fire hazard.
Clear Gutters – Gutters quickly become clogged at the end of the year, so having them cleaned after the leaves finish falling is important for draining water away from the roof and from the foundation.
Check Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms – Cold weather means that tenants use the furnace, possibly use an electric heater, electric blankets, light candles, and use the stove for longer, which all results in a higher risk of fire. Checking smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and installing new batteries is always a good idea.
Inspect the Roof – Cracks, loose or missing pieces, and wear can all build up over the winter to create severe problem. Replacing small broken pieces or fixing issues before they become a huge problem, (for example if the wind tears at a small loose shingle and rips up a large portion of the roof), will save you a lot of money in the future.
Trimming Trees and Shrubs – Trees can cause a lot of damage in the winter if they fall during a storm, a branch breaks and falls on property, or causes someone to trip. Paying for an inspection of any trees on your property, and for an annual trimming of trees and shrubs is a good way to prevent this type of damage. If trees and shrubs are in the street or the right of way, they are the responsibility of the city of Bellevue and it is illegal to cut them, but you can contact Bellevue Operations and maintenance at 425-452-7840 if there is a problem.
Check Walkways and Paths – If walkways and paths are in an area where they either hold water or are not shielded from the rain or other elements, you will have to make provisions to have them salted and kept clear of ice and snow throughout the winter. This is important for safety because it could prevent someone from slipping and falling. Again, if the walkways or paths are in the street or right of way, then they belong to the city.
Create an Information Packet for Tenants – Tenants are in charge of your property while they live there, so informing them of safety measures and dos and don’ts is a great way to help protect your property and their safety. An information packet should include fire safety in the winter, local resources (for example the city of Bellevue offers fire safety bulletins including Christmas tree fire safety here), and a list of contacts including emergency numbers.
Preparing your property for winter is relatively easy, and you can save a lot in terms of preventing future damage. If you’re working with a local Bellevue property management company, they should handle all of this for you, but if you’re doing it on your own, keeping up with your property maintenance is important for the winter months.
If you don’t have the time to handle details like winter preparation work, consider contacting SJA Property Management for information or a free quote.
Request a Storm Debris Landscape Container (after a storm only): 425-452-4762
Drainage or Flooding Problems: 425-452-7840
Report a Power Outage: 1-888-225-5773
Residential Garbage Collection: 425-452-4762
Bellevue Recycling Drive: 425-452-6932
Code Violations: 425-452-4570
The discussion herein is of a general nature only and is not to be construed as specific legal advice, which requires the establishment of an attorney-client relationship and fee agreement. SJA Property Management does not provide legal services.