Seasonal Property Maintenance Tips From Charleston Property Managers

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Winter is here; while some states brace for snow storms, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts warmer than average temperatures for the Southeast. Meanwhile, the Farmer’s Almanac is predicting more rain than snow.

Extended forecasts, however, are wrong almost 50% of the time. As Charleston property managers, we know that while the weather can be unpredictable, the list of routine maintenance tasks that keep your rental property successful is not.

Rental property maintenance can be either sporadic and reactionary or planned and precautionary. Armed with a proper checklist for each season, rental property owners can and should do as much as possible to stay ahead of the weather when it comes to their rental homes.

Snow may not be as much of a concern here in South Carolina, but mold certainly is—and it doesn't take frozen water to cause problems for investors.

When addressing your seasonal maintenance in the Charleston area, your checklists can typically be broken down into four sections (if applicable):

  • Interior of Buildings
  • Exterior of Buildings
  • Groundskeeping
  • Amenities.

Carolina Christmas

Winter Checklist

Winters can be brutal to building exteriors and cause utility systems to fail. Extreme weather conditions can also create safety hazards. It's not all that often that we see the sight of snowfall here in the Charleston area (or even dip below freezing for that matter).

However, we know as Charleston property managers that if you're prepared for this possibility in advance, you'll weather even the most random of winter storms.

Interior of Buildings

  • Monitor plumbing in under-utilized buildings and vacant properties for leaking.
  • Check HVAC systems and replace filters, or confirm that your renters have been keeping up with this crucial quarterly task.
  • Check for pest infestations regularly, especially in vacant units or buildings that are closed for the winter.
  • Notify residents of the minimum temperature they need to maintain to prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Reverse ceiling fans so that cool air pushes warm air downward.
  • Flush and inspect water heaters.

Exterior of Buildings

  • Inspect gutters for blockages regularly. 
  • Check any foundations for cracks, and make sure winter runoff is directed away from foundations in anticipation of spring storms.

Groundskeeping

  • Keep walkways clear and salted (if applicable) to reduce ice buildup.
  • Ensure fire hydrants are always clear.

Amenities

  • Do you own a multi-family rental home? Be sure to keep sanitizing stations in common areas well-stocked.
  • Take the time to remind your residents about fire safety as they continue burning all those gifted holiday candles well into the new year!

Spring Checklist

Spring is all about cleaning up after winter and preparing for summer. As an investor, it's time to get a head start on your 'spring cleaning'! Some of these tasks won't apply to single-family homes, but we throw them in for the multi-family investor.

If you're wondering what your responsibilities are as a property owner, you can always talk to Charleston property managers to get a better understanding of your duties!

Interior of Buildings

  • Deep-clean carpeting, tile, and wood in halls and common spaces, especially where moisture (and possibly mud) were tracked in.
  • Inspect for leaks, seepage, or the signs of mold due to heavy rains.
  • Check HVAC systems and replace filters, or confirm that your renters have been keeping up with this crucial quarterly task.

Exterior of Buildings

  • Inspect your roofs for damage (or work with someone who can). Besides loose shingles, winter weather can cause cracks and leaks.
  • Inspect gutters for damage and clean out debris.
  • Do a visual check of your rental property's foundation for cracks, leaks, or moisture seepage.
  • Inspect stucco and masonry for damage or crumbling where pointing or mortar may need to be repaired.
  • Clean the exterior of windows and replace or repair screens.
  • Clean out laundry vents and any other external venting registers.

Groundskeeping

  • Clean up debris—especially in common spaces.
  • Check for damage to irrigation systems.
  • Inspect fences, curbs, and sidewalks for needed repairs.
  • Check exterior lighting and change timers for summer hours if applicable.
  • Communicate with lawn care or grounds maintenance vendors in preparation for the change of season.

Amenities

  • If applicable, schedule the pool, community garden, and other outdoor reopening timelines and notify residents. 
  • Inspect pools (particularly above-ground models) for damage.
  • Reset thermostats in common areas in accommodation of warmer temperatures.
  • Check for damage to playground equipment, outdoor fitness equipment, and other outdoor amenities.

Tree Lined Plantation Entrance

Summer Checklist

Summer is the time to 'make hay while the sun shines.' Good weather and longer days make it the ideal time to accomplish the bulk of your routine maintenance.

As a caution, though, families may also be spending more time at home and outdoors, so too much rental property maintenance may be seen as invasive. Good planning and communication can help to avoid undue complaints, so talk with your property management services provider about creating a mutually beneficial schedule.

Interior of Buildings

  • Monitor and maintain HVAC systems (including checking those filters) for cooler indoor temperatures and energy efficiency.
  • Inspect for any signs of mold or water damage from spring rains, and if you see any red flags, act on them immediately.
  • In late summer, contact residents to schedule any necessary fall inspections and maintenance services.

Exterior of Buildings

  • Plan painting and resurfacing of walls or parking areas.
  • Plan repairs to sidewalks, curbs, outdoor buildings such as gazebos and decks.

Groundskeeping

  • Prune back dry and dead trees and plants.
  • Cut lawns and prune bushes and hedges regularly. Keep lawns and gardens well-watered, using a sprinkler or irrigation system. 
  • Inspect for pests that could damage landscaping. Apply preventative treatments or call a humane pest-control agency.
  • Program fall cleanups with your landscaping vendors.

Amenities

  • In early summer, start pool maintenance, opening pools, and scheduling regular cleaning and chemical tests.
  • Inspect playground and outdoor exercise equipment regularly to confirm safe use and operation.

Fall Checklist

It’s time to prepare for winter once again. No matter how unpredictable the forecasts are, it’s time to make sure your Charleston rental home will weather the winter and provide a comfortable space for your renters.

Interior of Buildings

  • Inspect all carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, and replace batteries as needed.
  • Notify residents of winter fire hazards where applicable, such as curtains near radiators or stand-alone heaters. Post the rules for stand-alone heaters in the Resident Center for all to see.
  • Inspect weather-stripping, seals, and caulking to ensure economical use of heating systems.
    • Inspect and clean the HVAC systems and furnaces (don't forget to replace the filters or ensure your residents have been doing so).
  • Protect or remove window AC units.
  • Inspect and clean chimneys and fireplaces.
  • Lay down protective mats in entryways of residential buildings to collect anything that’s tracked in.

Exterior of Buildings

  • Clean out gutters and inspect roofs for loose shingles.
  • Ensure that chimney and vent boots and seals are in good condition, and no gaps will let moisture in. 
  • Power-wash decks and patios, repair loose boards and stones, and add a moisture sealant as needed to winterize outdoor traffic surfaces.
  • Make sure pests looking for shelter cannot enter your rental property! Don’t forget to check outdoor buildings or common areas that may be closed for the winter.
  • Winterize outdoor plumbing and close valves which isolate unused portions.

Groundskeeping

  • Inspect exterior lighting and reset timers for shorter daylight hours if applicable.
  • Inspect and drain irrigation systems to prevent the possibility of freezing and cracking.
  • Clean up debris and weeds from gardens. Apply mulch to winterize flower beds.

Amenities

  • Put grills and outdoor furniture into storage or cover them appropriately.
  • Close pool houses and clubhouses for the winter.
  • Winterize and close pools.
  • Reset thermostats in common areas to compensate for cooler weather.
  • Make sure indoor amenity spaces are set up for proper social distancing and that sanitizing products are available since more people will be spending time inside.
  • Schedule regular cleaning for all common areas.

Property owners will save abundant time and resources contracting these responsibilities to a competent property management company in Charleston rather than trying to juggle it all themselves—and this is just a brief list of the tasks you may need to face in any given year!

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