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August 31, 2017

Fall is an important time to update your property. With cold winter weather on the way, it’s critical that everything is working properly (think: hot water heater) and in good shape (think: no cracked windows or drafts). Use these tips and ideas to build your fall maintenance list and add anything specific for your property. Older homes may have a longer maintenance list than those that are newer, and you don’t want to forget anything important.

Security Updates

Security is critical for your rental property—not just to keep your tenants safe, but to ensure your property is both rentable and attractive to new potential renters. Not to mention, negligence on your part could lead to a break-in, which may cause tenants to break their lease and move out. If they no longer feel safe, you’ll have a hard time arguing lease restrictions with them.

Avoid these problems by updating the property’s security now. Here are a few areas to look at during your security assessment.

The Garage

Shockingly, 30 percent of burglars enter through an unlocked window or door, and the garage door can be one of those unlocked entrances if you’re not careful. Keep it secure by upgrading the garage door lock itself: ”In order to increase your garage door security, install a deadbolt lock or two to make sure thieves cannot easily break into your home,” explain experts at CSS Garage Doors. Bonus: deadbolts are inexpensive and easy to use.

Another easy way to increase security is to make it impossible for burglars to see inside the garage. The garage door experts continue, “A simple, easy deterrent is to frost or otherwise cover your garage windows. This prevents anyone from looking in and seeing if you have any valuables in there. In addition, it prevents them from seeing if you are home or not.”

It could cost anywhere from $385 to $655 to get news windows professionally installed. To save, check out the DIY ideas in this Garage Journal forum.

Front Door and Windows

A quick inspection will tell you what shape your windows and doors are in. As the easiest points of access into the home, these should lock effectively and be free of cracks or other vulnerabilities. Consider replacing what’s old, including the front door lock or window panes.

Better yet: update your front door with a smart lock, allowing tenants to get in and out with a code. When one tenant leaves, you simply change the code and give them the new one. Many smart locks also allow for remote locking and unlocking, in case tenants lock themselves out or forget the code.

Add New Security Features

Keep your property and tenants as safe as possible by installing a few small security features that will make all the difference. Here are a few to consider:

  • Outdoor lights: These will deter burglars, who prefer to work in the dark of night.
  • Security signs: Burglars like to break in when no one is around—one way to combat that is to show them you’re actively monitoring the property, even if you’re not there. You can get real signs from your security provider or buy fake ones—which are still effective. Stake them in the lawn or on the windows for maximum exposure.
  • Window and door alarms: Added protection for these vulnerable areas of the home.

Aesthetic Touch-Ups

If your property is empty, this fall maintenance is critical. People want to feel good about where they’re living and a “dumpy” house, with dirty siding, an unmowed lawn and cluttered patio won’t bode well for your curb appeal. Updating inside aesthetics is also a great way to keep current tenants in their lease. Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Power wash the siding and windows; it’s amazing how much grime can build up over just a few months. This will make the outside look like new.
  • Run a mower across the lawn to prepare for leaves and snowfall. Clean up any random items, or talk with tenants about keeping the outside space tidy.
  • Do a few small kitchen upgrades, like adding subway tile backsplash and installing new lighting and hardware.
  • Paint the walls with a fresh color, preferably not stark white. Bigger Pockets writer, Brandon Turner, suggests “Country White.”
  • Update blinds with something trendy and simple, like fake wood or bamboo.
  • Install a washer and dryer, update the laundry room, or install hook-ups so renters can buy their own if they want.

Don’t forget to add a new coat of paint on trim around rooms, doors and windows; peeling paint is not appealing and will only degrade further, by tenants or otherwise.

Full Winter-Prep Inspection

Winter is coming and your property needs to be ready. The fall is a great time to do a full inspection of your property. We boiled down Bob Villa’s extensive list to a few of the most important tasks:

  • Check all windows and doors for drafts. Replace and calk as necessary.
  • Trim overgrown branches around the home that could be dangerous when weighed down with snow and ice.
  • Provide tenants with covers for outdoor furniture, if the items are yours.
  • Drain water from outdoor pipes, sprinklers and valves to avoid bursting.
  • Move winter tools, like shovel, bag of salt, etc. to an accessible area.
  • Inspect firebox and flume, if the property has a fireplace.
  • Clean or replace the airfilter in the furnace.
  • Replace thermostat with a programmable one for maximum winter savings.
  • Flush your hot water heater tank to remove buildup and sediment, and check the pressure valve.
  • Inspect all gutters to ensure proper flow of snow melt and ice. 

Get Started

Add these tasks, and others that are specific to your property, to your fall maintenance list. Start tackling a few each week so when winter comes around, the property will be ready to sustain the snow and cold. With a little bit of time and work, you’ll make your property more rentable and keep current tenants happy.

Author Bio: Jessica Thiefels has been writing and editing for more than 10 years and is now a professional freelancer and consultant. She's worked with a variety of real estate clients and has written for Forbes, Inman, House Hunt Network, Homes.com and more. Follow her on Twitter @JThiefels

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