Property management companies must always be looking for ways to keep their premises safe for residents, both to prevent accidents and the lawsuits that so often follow them. They also must find the most cost-effective ways to manage property maintenance and repairs. Preventative maintenance and winterization of their properties will incur some upfront expenses, but they will save money in the long run, as well as keep residents more satisfied.
Here are 10 pieces of advice that every property manager should be aware of and seek to implement before the first snow falls.
1. Prepare for Parking Lot Snow Removal Early
To obtain a competitive contract and to have time to prearrange all the details of how--and how often--you want your parking lots plowed, you cannot afford to wait till the last minute. If your renters are trapped in their residences too often or are forced to drive over dangerous snow and ice, you may see them move out before next winter comes along.
2. Be Ready to Deice Walkways and Entryways
Deicing and anti-icing sidewalks and entry areas is non-negotiable if you wish to avoid slip-and-fall accidents. Stockpile rocks salt, salt brine, and calcium chloride, and consider using snow-melting mats for the heavy-traffic zones.
3. Conduct a Thorough Roof Inspection
One of winter's worst threats is a leaking or caved-in roof, and unless you do a pre-winter inspection, leakage points and ice dam prone areas will not be corrected. Be ready with ladders, shovels, and roof rakes to remove snow from the roof when necessary, but never walk on an unsafe roof.
4. Trim and Prune the Trees
Dead tree branches and limbs that overhang the roof should be trimmed off. Otherwise, a severe winters storm may crash them into the building and cause major damage.
5. Inspect the Chimney
One likely leakage point in a commercial property is through cracked tar around the chimney, so be sure to inspect and re-tar it. Also repair any damage to the chimney itself, especially targeting any loose bricks.
6. Clean Out Gutters and Downspouts
To avoid sagging gutters, knocked-down ice-filled downspouts, and a major risk of ice damming, it is crucial to clean out gutter troughs and downspouts before winter begins.
7. Look for Paint-Peel on Exterior Walls
If you see paint peeling off of exterior walls, you may need to repaint before winter to avoid serious damage to your siding that will ultimately incur a steep cost, even if years into the future.
8. Service or Replace Heating Systems
If your units have a forced air heating system, make sure the filter is changed every month or two to minimize energy bills. If you have an oil or gas furnace, be sure to have it inspected, repaired, or replaced before the cold season when it will be used the most.
9. Cover or Remove Window-Set AC Units
Winter weather will not be kind to window-installed air conditioners that jut outside the building, so it is best to remove them or to cover them with a protective tarp for the season.
10. Service or Replace Water Heaters
Nothing will upset renters more than the lack of hot water in the dead of winter. Flush out water heaters to remove mineral build-up and improve efficiency, and have the unit inspected. If it is an old model that is on its last leg, it will make more sense to upgrade to a more energy-efficient model.
Property management companies face three obstacles every winter: keeping their residents safe, keeping them content, and minimizing expenses. The above tips can help them achieve these goals.