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Winter Property Checklist For Landlords

By Louise Ciurpita

Winter has well and truly arrived in Sydney, bringing specific considerations and challenges for local investment properties. We’ve put together a winter checklist for homeowners to keep your property at its best throughout the colder months. 

Take Care Of Winter Maintenance And Protect Against Storm Damage

At Ray White Lower North Shore, we’re big advocates for the importance of year-round proactive maintenance, and this only becomes more important in winter when the weather can cause more problems. Some of the basic areas to address before winter are: 

Get any trees on the property pruned if they’re at risk of falling on your property or power lines, and contact your council if you’re concerned about one of the trees on the street

Check any outdoor structures like decks, fences, balconies and stairs, to make sure they’re in good condition to withstand any woolly winter weather and storms

  • Fix any damage to windows and doors – from cracked window panes to gaps and locks.
  • Check all outdoor tiling and paving for large cracks that could cause a trip hazard if damaged – it’s also worth giving them a good clean with a pressure hose to get rid of any slippery moss and grime.
  • Clean leaves out of gutters.
  • Check that the roof drainage system is working and that the downpipes aren’t blocked or gutters leaking.
  • Make sure all smoke alarms and heating systems are working properly.

If you need recommendations from reliable local tradespeople, get in touch with your property manager now. Keep in mind that tradies are often busy in the lead-up to the end of financial year, so book them in as soon as you can. 

Make Winter-Specific Improvements  

If you’ve kept on top of your repairs and maintenance, there’s a good chance you won’t have essential renovations in the lead-up to winter, but it’s wise to take a look at areas that would add value to your tenants and help reduce the need for post-winter maintenance. 

Ventilation and climate control are two of these important areas: the first affects the mould that is common at this time of year, especially in bathrooms, laundries and wardrobes; while the second becomes more important as tenants start needing the heater.  

Remember that it doesn’t take a big budget to make a big difference. To take care of ventilation issues, make sure there’s an exhaust fan in the worst areas and check that all doors and windows can be easily opened to reduce a build-up of humidity. Then for effective heating systems, there are some simple ways to minimise draft so your tenants won’t be hit with big energy bills – just replace the weather stripping around doors and windows, and replace worn doorstops. 

Reduce Long Vacancies In Winter 

Winter is a quieter time in the rental market, so you could be up for a longer vacancy period if your tenant decides to leave. Sometimes, it’s unavoidable, but there are ways you can increase the likelihood that your tenant will want to stay on. These are our top tips: 

  1. Make sure the rent is competitive. If rental prices have dropped in the area, there’s a good chance your tenant will be looking for a better deal. When you consider that a vacant property can lead to significant financial loss, it’s often better to cut the rent by $10 or $20 a week if it means your tenant will stay. Your property manager can advise on the current market rate.
  2. Consider ways to add value. No heating or air-con in your property? Adding one can be cost-effective and a big drawcard for renters. If you were considering a rent drop, adding value is another way to make the property desirable. You can also add services like basic gardening or taking out the bins as part of the rent.
  3. Keep up-to-date with maintenance and repairs. We talk about it a lot, but dropping the ball with repairs is a sure-fire way to make tenants feel insecure and unappreciated in the home. Our property managers take a proactive approach so you’re always on top of maintenance. 
  4. Treat your tenants well. Being respectful and communicating well are simple, but they make a big difference to how tenants feel in the property. Find a property management team who knows the value of these relationships and you’ll find your tenants will be more likely to re-sign. 

Review Your Insurance Policies 

More storm activity means a higher likelihood of storm and water damage, so now’s the time to make sure your insurance policies adequately cover your needs. If you have a standalone house, make sure your building insurance has good coverage for natural events like storms. If you’re in a strata scheme for an apartment, you’ll need to check with the owners’ corporation. Then, we strongly recommend landlord’s insurance to protect against other types of damage.

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