October 25, 2016

Fall is a beautiful season. Crisp days and vibrant-colored leaves combine with the anticipation of Halloween, Thanksgiving and the winter holidays to make it one of the most exciting times of the year.

It’s an exciting time for property management, as well! With fall, property management duties go into a higher gear. Maintenance becomes both ongoing, with regular tasks, and proactive, with tasks to prepare for colder weather. Protecting tenants, grounds and buildings from cold and even from accidents like slipping and falling become more necessary than in the Spring and Summer.

Here are eight tips for managing your property in the Fall.

1. Clear Leaves

Falling leaves are synonymous with the Fall season. That means one of the primary maintenance duties of the season is making sure the property is kept free of masses of fallen leaves. Yes, we know that some fallen leaves look wonderful on the property. But leaves left fallen can be dangerous to people walking in them — if wet, they’re a prime candidate for causing slips.

They can also damage the turf beneath. Sunlight is blocked from the grass, which needs sun to continue healthy growing. Leaves left on the ground can also foster the development of fungus in the grass.

2. Check and Clear Gutters

Blowing leaves can also clog gutters. That’s one of the reasons a Fall check of the gutters is a great idea. But it isn’t the only one! Moss, dirt, detritus and even small animals can clog or damage your gutters.

If you don’t check, you won’t know the gutters are clogged or damaged until the they don’t fulfill their function. And if they don’t, water could damage your property. Even if the gutters were clear last year, check them again this year.

3. Service Furnaces

Sooner or later, even the sturdiest furnace is going to need maintenance or give out entirely. You don’t want that to happen on the first cold day of the year, when your tenants all hit the thermostats. So make an appointment to have them professionally serviced and inspected every year, either late in the Summer or early in the Fall.

Annual maintenance will increase their longevity and save you expensive repair costs in the long-run.

4. Prepare for Snowy/Icy Outdoor Areas

Just as your tenants will reach for the thermostat, they will eventually be walking across cold parking lots. If the parking lots or other outdoor areas have snow, they will need to be cleared. It’s a good idea to prepare for that now.

When snow or ice storms hit, demand for services such as salt, shovels and snow plows will be fierce. Make sure you don’t have to wait in line. Buy salt and shovels now. Purchase a snow plow to keep your apartment lot clear.

5. Clean and Inspect Chimneys

Inspecting and cleaning chimneys is imperative for tenant safety. Clogged or unsafe fireplace flues and chimneys are one of the leading causes of residential fires. In the last period for which statistics are available, fireplaces and chimneys caused 22,300 fires annually — roughly half of all residential fires.

A blocked flue can be deadly even without a fire, and even if a fireplace wasn’t used in a previous year, animal nests can block them for use this year.

6. Monitor Doors and Windows

Doors and windows are often responsible for heat loss during the Fall and Winter. If you or your tenants feel cold coming through, or hear wind whistling, it’s often an indication that weather stripping or caulking are needed. It’s a good idea to have doors and windows monitored professionally every several years. Both can warp, and improper fit is a chief reason why they may be less weather-tight than usual.

7. Check Trees and Bushes

Wind is a hazard in winter, just like the cold is. It’s a good idea to check the health of your trees and bushes before winter fully sets in, as dead trees are often not visibly dead. Dead trees or bushes need to be removed. A wind storm can cause dead branches to blow through an apartment’s windows and even doors. Flying branches are dangerous to passersby, pets and vehicles.

Sleet or ice can make branches break under the weight. You can avoid dead branches blowing or breaking by performing a preventive check of your trees before winter sets in.

8. Inspect the Roof

If your apartment complex is more than 15 years old, it’s time to add an annual roof maintenance inspection to the list! Roofs need to be replaced every 15 to 30 years. A roof will not necessarily announce when it needs to be fixed, however. An inspection may find missing shingles and spots where repair is necessary, or reveal a need for replacement. Again, don’t wait until a roof leaks or is severely damaged in a storm.

Despite the beauty of Fall, it steps up the need for maintenance and inspection. Follow these tips to have a lovely, well-maintained complex that’s safe for tenants and can handle any winter emergency.

About the Author: This article was written exclusively for Rentometer by Megan WildMegan Wild is a real estate and home improvement blogger who writes about easy ways that you can fix-up rentals or your home. When she’s not sanding her next project, she’s found walking her dog, Tucker.

If you liked this article, subscribe to Rentometer's email newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest trends in rental housing.