Old Man Winter is ready to descend upon sunny Southern California. That means that the temperatures will go from “quite pleasant” to “a little chilly.” Tongue-in-cheek aside, the Santa Clarita Valley still receives a fair share of winter weather in the form of rain and wind. From a landlord perspective I wanted to bring a few basic winterization items to mind.
If your rental property is in a homeowner’s association (HOA) such as a condominium or town home complex then you are probably already familiar with the idea of reserves. Part of your HOA dues go to a reserve fund which is earmarked for painting, repaving, and other general repair and improvement items.
But very few of us as homeowners have such a reserve fund for our rentals. More typically we address a problem when it becomes a problem and not before. I sometimes call this the ostrich approach. We put our heads in the sand and figure if we cannot see the problem then the problem will not occur.
Here is an item you might wish to address at your rental property prior to the winter season arriving in full force.
Every year we see gutters overflow. This can cause damage to the gutters themselves, to the fascia board or rafter tails holding up the gutter, and to the landscape areas adversely affected by the overflow. Not to mention the inconvenience to the occupant of the property. Especially if the overflow occurs over the area where the tenant enters and exits the property.
The first step is to unclog the gutters. Most gutters are cleaned out earlier in the season, but leaves can always fall later than expected. If your gutters are clogged and water flow is restricted by leaves, water will build up and then freeze once the temperature drops. Frozen water in your gutters is very likely to weigh them down and cause cracking which may require repair or replacement of the gutter system.
If unclogging your gutters is a chore you would rather skip, consider a seamless gutter system. These systems are overlays on your existing gutters and act as a leaf block.
Make sure gutters are tightly secured. If a few nails or panels are loose, you could be left with a gutter hanging sideways off of your roof.
Make sure downspouts are aligned. If your downspouts are not functioning properly, the water that your gutters worked so hard to corral and drive away will not end up going very far at all. Water will leak down the side of your house causing possible damage to the house, the landscape, or the occupants.
Imagine water flowing across a sidewalk from a mis-aligned gutter one evening. Overnight the temperature drops and freezes the water. In the morning your tenant walks across the icy sidewalk and slips causing an injury to themselves. Where do you suspect that claim is going to end up?
Remove branches from overhanging trees. Tree branches that hang over the roof of your house pose a threat should they ever fall down. It would be wise to take them down on your own terms by hiring a landscaping company to get rid of the branches.
And finally, and this is the old soils engineer in me coming out, ensure that water flows away from foundations. In my former life I made a nice living from homeowners who allowed water to drain towards their home instead of away from their home.
Preventative maintenance can save you money. Preventative maintenance can make you money. Do not be like so many landlords out there who suffer from the ostrich syndrome. Start the winterization process of your rental property today. Keep your head out of the sand, look around, and address a situation before it becomes a problem.