The holiday season is here, which means winter weather is fast approaching. ‘Tis the season for slips and falls, burst pipes, and space heater fires. In fact, data released from Munich Re attributes an estimated $1 billion in insured losses to winter storms for 2016.
Use this handy winter checklist for landlords to protect your residents and your property in the cold months ahead.
Winter Checklist for Landlords
- Inspect and repair the roof. Check the roof for gaps or water damage, especially around vents and other openings. Caulk or seal openings, and clear drains of leaves and other debris.
- Fix sidewalk cracks. Now is also a good time to take care of sidewalk repairs. Damaged sidewalks create trip hazards. In addition, constant expansion and contraction, caused by water melting and freezing, can make existing damage considerably worse by the time spring arrives.
- Seal doors and windows. HPD may have increased the heat requirements, but you don’t have to heat the outdoors. Keep utility bills in check by installing (or repairing) weather stripping in doors and windows. Repair gaps around windows and cracks in walls with caulk or more permanent repairs, as needed.
- Clear gutters and downspouts. Blocked gutters can lead to water accumulation and ice dams, which can tear off gutters and result in interior leaks.
- Winterize pipes. Drain and insulate any exterior pipes to prevent the lines from freezing during the cold months.
- Check nearby trees. Inspect trees and have unsafe branches removed. Winter storms can snap limbs and topple entire trees.
- Arrange for snow removal. Make sure you have a plan for removing snow and ice from sidewalks in a timely manner. New York City has strict guidelines for snow removal.
- Replace air filters. The start of the winter season is an excellent time to change HVAC air filters. Clogged filters not only increase energy usage, but they also shorten the life of your equipment.
- Assess entry mats. Position high-quality mats inside and outside the building to reduce slip and fall hazards. Keep warning signs on hand to alert tenants and visitors to wet surfaces.
- Test smoke, fire and carbon monoxide detectors. Winter is the prime season for home fires, a leading cause of building insurance claims. Make sure these early-warning systems are fully functional.
- Educate tenants. Share holiday safety tips with your tenants. Thanksgiving and Christmas both see a high number of residential fires caused by cooking. Also, provide guidelines for space heater usage, which need at least three feet of space.
- Plug leaks in electrical outlets. Once a year, remove outlet covers and fill in any gaps around the outlet boxes. While tedious, this step can prevent heat loss. A bit of foam solves the problem quickly.
We hope you found this winter checklist for landlords helpful. Please share any tips that we’ve missed. And if you have any questions about your property insurance, call our office at 877-576-5200.