President's Message - March 2019

All this snow & sub-zero weather has contributed to what will probably be a record-setting February for snow fall and low temperatures in Great Falls. As Realtors, many of us manage and/or own rental properties.

When things go wrong at those properties it can cost thousands of dollars and a huge amount of time. Communicating with tenants about potential cold weather issues can help avert or lessen problems. I’ve put together the following list of friendly reminders to share with your tenants to keep both your property and your renters safe this winter.

Winter Maintenance - Tips to Remind Your Renters:

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

  • Disconnect and drain garden hoses.

  • Cover outside faucets with insulating foam covers.

  • Turn off the sprinkler system.

  • If the temperature drops below 20 degrees, keep one or two faucets running slowly at all times. Water running through the system will prevent the line from freezing.

  • Keep the cabinet under the kitchen sink open so warm air can flow around the pipes.

  • Cover exposed pipes (both indoors and out) with insulating foam covers.

  • Call your landlord or property manager immediately if you suspect a pipe has frozen for further instructions.

How to Prep the Inside of Your Home for Winter Weather

  • Cover or remove your window air conditioners.

  • Turn your ceiling fans on low in reverse (clockwise when looking up) to circulate warm air.

  • Inspect fireplaces, and chimneys before using, and have them cleaned if needed.

How to Prep the Outside of Your Home for Winter Weather

  • Bring in potted plants from outdoors.

  • Cover any outside plants with insulating materials, remember to remove it once the temperature pops above freezing.

  • Brush off snow after each snowfall from trees and plants with a broom to prevent them from breaking due to heavy snow buildup.

How to Manage Snow and Ice at your Rental Property

  • Remind your tenants of the local snow and ice removal laws in your town. If your lease agreement states that your tenant is responsible for clearing snow from the public sidewalk in front of the property, remind them of their responsibility to do so. In some areas, if snow is not cleared within the required timeframe the property owner will be fined if the city has to do it for them.

  • If your renter experiences an ice dam, ask them to notify you right away. House damage from ice dams can be costly and you need to manage it in a timely manner, hopefully preventing them altogether.

In addition to these winter reminders to your renters, don’t forget there are additional steps you should take as the homeowner to protect your property during this time of year.

  • Remove debris from gutters — water can back up, causing leaks and ice dams or damage to your roof and siding.

  • Inspect and upgrade attic insulation and ventilation.

  • Stay off your roof during freezing weather, but once the ice and snow have melted, inspect your roof for any damage.

  • Check the furnace or heating system to make sure it is in good condition before it starts working overtime to keep your renters warm.

  • Check the batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms to make sure they are working properly.

  • Consider installing storm windows to keep cold weather at bay for your tenants.

  • Have a plan in place for how to de-thaw a frozen pipe before it bursts. This might include installing heating tubes along exposed pipes, hiring a professional to visit the property, or asking your renters to point a space heater at the frozen pipe.

The good news is, most damage to a rental property (or your own residence) due to winter weather can be prevented with a little extra effort.

Josh Lind

2019 GFAR President

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