Over the years Texas weather has become the brunt of many jokes!
From the severe heat during the summer months to the volatility of the fall and winter, our weather is quite nonsensical and, while this lends quite a bit of humor to our lives, it can make planning quite difficult.
Preparing your rental property for Fall should be a joint effort between you and your tenant.
You should be sending out seasonal letters with instructions on steps the tenant should take to prepare themselves and the property that they occupy for the season.
However, the onus is not entirely on your tenant to maintain and prepare the property. Make sure you are doing your part to keep the property safe and protect your investment.
One of the most important preparations is to ensure that your HVAC or heating system has been maintained and serviced. Heating is simply a necessity and in the eyes of the legal system, it is a requirement for the health and safety of tenants. Having the heating system checked out yearly before cooler or cold weather hits could avoid bigger maintenance problems and making necessary repairs can prolong the life of the heating system.
Here are some quick tips for fall preparation!
- Check siding to ensure that it is stable and secure
- Have the roof checked for weak spots
- Insulate doors and windows
- Search the property for areas that may need to be caulked to improve heating efficiency
- Cut back any overgrow vegetation (especially if it is hanging over any part of the property)
- Clean out the gutters before fall leaves have had the chance to settle in. (Bonus Tip! placing a gutter guard into the shaft will make future cleanings much easier!)
- Have the chimney swept to remove any blockages
- Check all carbon monoxide and smoke detectors
- Ensure the weather stripping on exterior doors and windows are functional
- Check your attic insulation for gaps
As the first days of fall approach, you will need to ensure your property is ready. This will mean coordinating multiple vendors, admittance to the property, and updating/educating your tenant on their duties. You will certainly have your work cut out for you!
Interested in letting a professional take care of these tasks for you? Contact Frontline Property Management today! We have the experience to handle your investments through any season, and protect your frontline to protect your bottom line!
Have a property that you need help with? Just fill out this form and we will reach out to see how we can help!
Summertime Tips for Landlords
You should be sending out seasonal letters, communicating with your tenants what is expected to care for the property. A gentle reminder can go a long way to protecting your property against the damaging effects of summer – especially here in Texas! If you are wondering what exactly you should be requesting of your tenants, we have some ideas listed below!
After the bursting blooms of spring have faded, trees, grass and bushes are in full growth! It should be clear in the lease you have with your tenant who exactly is responsible for keeping everything trim and tidy. Grass lawns will need to be mown, trees and bushes will need to be kept in check and it’s the time of year where weeds will spring up in the side yards if left unattended. While a property “gone wild” is not exactly physically damaging, it could violate local HOA and City statutes, which can result in fiscal damages in the form of fines. Some creeping vines are as aggressive as they are attractive, and can split picket fencing, collapse chain link fencing, compromise the mortar of brick houses and force their way into cracks – which will damage the property! It’s much easier to maintain landscaping than it is to repair its damages.
Lock Up for Vacation
Many of us haven’t been on vacation in a while, so it’s only natural that a few precautions may have been forgotten! Remind tenants that they will need to protect the property if they decide to leave for a trip. Locking all windows and doors is the first step in preventing a break-in, but also making sure their security system is in order and that the property doesn’t seem unoccupied. Whether that’s leaving a light on, having a relative drop by the home, or parking a car in the driveway – every tip helps!
Not every property can accommodate a barbeque, most often due to space. But when the sun’s out, the grills come out so you’ll want to have established the rules for your property. When, where, and how a grill can be operated (if allowed) will best inform the tenant on how to reduce injury to themselves, overhanging trees, and the property itself. Many HOAs have rules regarding how a grill can be stored on the property (out of sight!) in order to maintain a neat appearance to anyone driving through the neighborhood.
Be Aware of HVAC Issues
When the first hot day of summer rolls around, your phone will be ringing with tenants reporting that their A/C doesn’t work. Regular inspections, as well as regular maintenance, will prevent most of these calls. However, reaching out to your tenant lets them know that you are aware that it could be an issue, and are proactive in seeking a solution! Inform your tenants that cranking the A/C may do more harm than good, and that a moderately cool temperature will help their air conditioning last all summer long. A summertime inspection is a great opportunity to address not only HVAC issues, but anything to do with pests, insulation, wiring, the integrity of decks and fencing and other damages.
All of the above are true of both single family homes and multifamily, but there are special considerations for multifamily residents! Common areas and pools are going to see an influx of resident traffic. Quiet hours may need to be established in order to keep the peace during long, hot nights. Pool rules will need to be enforced for the benefit and safety of all residents and visitors. Communicating consistently with your residents will assure them that their health and safety are being taken into consideration, and that shared amenities are available for all residents to use safely and without issue.
Have a property you need help with? Just fill out this form and we will reach out to you!
How to Prepare for Severe Weather: Tenant Communication
When it comes to property management, you have to be proactive and not reactive. As we touched on briefly in our previous blog, you should be sending notifications to your tenants at least quarterly, as the seasons change.
Communicating with your tenant is your first line of defense!
Although it may seem obvious to a local what the weather patterns are, we live in an ever-increasingly globalized world. Which means your tenants could be from out of state – or from another continent! Protect your property by informing your tenants diligently about upcoming weather expectations and how they relate to property management.
1) Draft a Seasonal Letter
You’re in the property management business, not comedy – you don’t have to keep your material fresh! Draft a letter to send out to your tenants that is applicable to the region your property is located in.
2) Do Your Part
The onus is not entirely on the tenant to maintain the property that they occupy. Sending an informational letter does not remove your responsibility as the property owner. Make sure that you are doing your part to keep the property safe via regular inspections, necessary updates, and repairs. You should see it as giving the tenant all the information and tools necessary to protect the property from severe weather.
3) Set Your Expectations
In your letter, make it clear that there are certain issues that you expect to occur, both to the property and the region at large. A common cold-weather issue (here in Texas) is that after months of disuse during our blisteringly dry summers, heaters that are being turned on for the first time sometimes emit burning smells that cause great concern to tenants. Informing your tenants will cut down on the phone calls to your maintenance team (or you, if you are managing your own property) and will give them a clear “next step” to take.
4) Create Actionable Steps
No one likes vague instructions. Inform your tenants in detail how they should be responding to shifting weather conditions. A simple to-do list will get the job done, so long as the items are specific and actionable, not just informative. “Water the foundation every week during the summer in accordance with your local grass watering ordinances” is much more specific than the guideless “Dry ground may cause foundation to shift”.
5) Put it in the Lease
It’s not only in your tenant’s best interest to have these seasonal letters written and sent or emailed to them – it’s in your best interest, as well! You should be keeping records of all tenant communications. This sets up clear expectations for both parties. If one side fails to meet the expectation, it will make it more clear who is liable for the costs of damages, should any occur. A letter or notice, however, is not a legally binding contract. The lease is. For this reason, it is advisable that the lease include language pertaining to the maintenance of property in regards to weather conditions. In a hot and dry region such as ours in Texas, watering the foundation is necessary property maintenance that prevents shifting foundations and all the trouble that comes with it. Including that specific action as a rider or in the main body of the lease obligates the tenant to comply.
Communicating with tenants is a priority on every landlord’s plate! Property Managers at Frontline Property Management, Inc. are in constant communication with tenants and have the support of multiple departments to streamline the process- so you don’t have to! If you aren’t sure what to expect in the Dallas / Fort Worth and surrounding areas – whether it’s the weather or market values – contact us today to find out!