Winter is here and high time to assess your investment property for any potential or existing issues before they worsen. Conducting a basic winter maintenance check will not only protect your tenant, it’ll also safeguard your property and finances.
Here are some rental property maintenance precautions that landlords and tenants alike should consider as we move into the colder winter months.
Test smoke detectors
House fires are more common in winter. Some of the causes of these fires are faulty electric blankets, heaters and appliances. While tenants must check the condition of their heating and electrical appliances before use, a smoke alarm is necessary (and required by law) to ensure the safety of the occupants in case of a fire.
Tenants are responsible for replacing the batteries and testing the device, but they must not interfere with or remove smoke alarms, without a reasonable excuse. We suggest landlords schedule annual smoke alarm maintenance checks to ensure they are operating effectively and notify the tenants. Fire and rescue NSW recommend you:
- Test your property’s smoke alarm batteries monthly
- Remove dust from the smoke alarm every six months
- Replace the batteries once a year
- Remove and fit a new smoke alarm unit every 10 years.
If you have one or more installed in your investment property, you should make a point to clean or replace filters at the beginning of each season. Filters may need more upkeep if tenants have pets, such as dogs or cats, allow dust and dirt build up, or are big air-con users.
The most common cause of indoor house mould is moisture. Warm, damp rooms such as the bathroom and laundry are particularly prone to mould, especially in winter. During the colder months, tenants may open windows less frequently, especially after taking a shower or using the clothes dryer. Windows and walls become wet with condensation. Conversely, leaving windows and doors open in the early mornings and evenings brings the cool, moist air inside.
The best way to tackle mould is to ensure there’s adequate ventilation available. Make sure windows and doors can be opened easily – preferably during the warmer, sunnier parts of the day – and consider installing an exhaust fan. Let tenants know what to look for and how they can also prevent mould.
It tends to rain more in winter. One of the most common winter household maintenance issues is blocked gutters and downpipes. These issues can cause all sorts of damage to your property, including leaking, rotting, rising damp, water damage, mould and in severe cases, affect the property’s foundations. If untreated, a minor issue can quickly escalate.
But it’s easy to prevent by making sure your gutters are free from leaves, twigs and other debris, especially before winter. If you don’t trust yourself on a ladder, you may prefer to hire a handyman to do the job.
Moss, mildew and algae can build up in damp, shady areas, particularly in winter. This can make driveways, paths and outdoor patios slippery and dangerous. While tenants are responsible for maintaining these areas, you should make sure they know what to do before winter and check they’re doing this at each inspection.
While there are many off-the-shelf products available to prevent moss and algae build up the issue can be easily managed by:
- keeping the areas clean and free from leaves and debris and anything that causes the accumulation of moisture and
- occasionally brushing and sweeping the surface.
Ongoing, proactive maintenance of your investment property, particularly during the winter months will protect your asset in the long-term.
Need more information?
Stills Properties has been managing investment properties for Sydney landlords for over 30 years, contact us to discuss your investment property management needs.