How to manage a winter vacancy
Having a vacant apartment any time of year can be a challenge. When you live in a cold climate a winter vacancy can be even more challenging. This past year we had an apartment, where the old tenant moved out and there was a 30 day delay until the new tenant moved in.
In the warmer months, you still need to check on and maintain your property on a regular basis, however, the following are some of the extra cold winter challenges:
Heat – you must remember to leave the heat on. You can get away with it turned down low, however, do not turn it off. The main reason you will require heat is to make sure your water pipes do not freeze. Another reason you should have your heat on is to reduce the amount of humidity in the air. The heat will keep the unit dry.
Water shut off valves turned off – This is a good thing to do all year round. Your toilet, sinks and hot water tanks should have water shutoff valves. If they do not, It is a really good idea to have shut off valves installed. That way if for some reason the toilet or a tap starts to leak, you do not have to worry about a flood.
Shovelling and salting – It is very important to make sure the walkways and driveway is shovelled and salted. It will make the unit looked lived in, and lesson your risk of somebody having a slip and fall accident on your property.
More frequent checks – If you have a vacant property you will need to check on it a lot, well you will need to check on your vacant property even more in the winter time. If something bad happens, the insurance company will be asking how often you checked on the property. It is very important to take a quick walk through the property on a very regular basis (everyday would be ideal). The main reason is that you can have equipment failure that can result in a lot of damage. Some examples would be a furnace breaking down, an electric baseboard radiator failure, or a hot water heater leaking.
Bad weather can strike at any moment in the winter, so it is really important to be ready. We cannot eliminate winter, however, by following the above steps, you can significantly reduce your risk of costly repairs due to a winter vacancy.
Michael P Currie