Fall Maintenance and Preparation for Your Home Rental

As we "fall" back into the routines of autumn, it's easy to feel pressed for time while managing your job, family, health and home. While we often feel like bunkering down with a good book rather than heading outside to rake the leaves, there are several things homeowners, investors and renters alike need to do to prepare their home for another Central Oregon winter.

If your winter preparation "to-do" list feels a little overwhelming, don't let that prevent you from neglecting your seasonal responsibilities. This can lead to fines, damage and overdue maintenance that could be costly, jeopardize your deposit, affect the livability of your rental and gradually increase monthly rent prices upon lease renewal due to rising landlord costs. 

As the famous saying goes, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time," we have created a condensed, "cliff note" version of the items in your rental home that need to be addressed this fall, three items at a time. Take on three tasks a day, week, or weekend and handle your fall maintenance one bite at a time. 


Fall Maintenance To-Do List, Three Tasks at a Time

Three Things to Prepare for: Cold Weather

1. Even if you go on vacation, your heat should never be below 50 degrees to prevent frozen or burst pipes. Set your thermostat no lower than 55-60 degrees at any time (if you are going to be gone for a long period of time, give our property managers a call to make cold weather arrangements).

2. Do a seasonal filter change. Change your furnace filter to improve air quality and furnace function in your home. Even if you just changed it, smoke from the summer fires have likely clogged it up again. This will prevent costly heater malfunctions caused by a dirty filter, and prevent charge backs to the renter for damage caused by a dirty filter, or the expenses to reset the furnace due to a blocked filter. 

For cadet heaters (non-ducted systems), vacuum out dust in lieu of changing the filter.

3. Clear out and keep the fireplace area clean (for wood burning units). For gas units, light the pilot lights and inspect the unit. If you suspect any malfunction, contact Lava Ridge Property Management to have a technician come out. Our offices will work with the owners to conduct annual fireplace maintenance to keep tenants safe and fireplaces up to code. 

Three Things to Remember About: Snow Removal

1. Snow removal is the responsibility of the tenant and can be a costly thing to neglect! Snow removal citations are ticketed by the City of Bend for $165 per violation. To be in compliance, you must remove snow from walkways within 6 hours of daylight after the snow has fallen. 

2. Tenant snow removal includes all the following:  driveways, walkways (public and private) porches, patios etc. When removing snow, renters may NOT shovel the snow into the streets, sidewalks or gutters.  

3. Ice melt and chemicals can be effective for snow removal, but must be swept up after use to prevent damage to the concrete walkways, sidewalks and driveways. If snow melt causes damage to these surfaces, the tenant will be responsible for the repair, resulting in costly fees or a loss of deposit. 

Three Things to Know About: Winter Preparation of the Yards

1. Landscaping, even in the winter months, is a tenant responsibility unless otherwise stated in your lease agreement. Lava Ridge Rentals conducts monthly property checks on the exterior of each rental home to make sure the lawns are properly maintained and will note any neglected yard maintenance.

2. Generally, Lava Ridge Property Management will schedule and conduct annual sprinkler blowouts and winterization due to the cold Central Oregon winter conditions. Please make sure there are no obstacles preventing us from accessing the systems, and once blown out, unplug the timers.

3. By early October, one good yard service and clean up should be conducted in preparation for winter. This means mowing, edging, trimming, pruning and removal of garbage, pet messes, and non-outdoor furniture. Water fixtures should be covered with insulating covers. 

Three Maintenance Items For: Your Safety

1. Now is the time to change your smoke detector batteries. This basic step keeps you safe from winter's many fire hazards. Lava Ridge Property Management has these units replaced regularly to keep them compliant with safety code and keep our tenants safe. 

2. Inspect your exterior for any safety issues such as loose railings, loose boards, irrigation leaks, and trees that look like they could fall or need the attention of an arborist. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Be sure to report any required maintenance to your property manager immediately. 

3. Did you know water damage is the most common kind of reported damage to insurance companies? Prevent water damage, mold and other issues by inspecting your rental for leaks, drips, and worn out caulking. Let us know of the issue by submitting a maintenance request using our convenience online maintenance form so we can arrange to get it fixed.

Again, these simple guidelines and helpful hints for fall maintenance and winter preparation of your rental are here to ensure a smooth and easy transition between fall and winter and keeps your rental safe, maintained and protected from damage. Addressing the seasonal maintenance between summer, fall, winter and spring, helps ensure the protection of your home, whether you are the investor, or the renter.