As much as we love autumn, we’re less thrilled about the extra fall maintenance that comes along with the leafy clutter. But no matter how you feel about it, there’s plenty of work to do at your properties! Here are nine important fall maintenance jobs for property managers to take care of before winter.
1. Let your residents know what to expect
It’s always a good idea to let your community know when extra noise and maintenance may be going on — the earlier, the better. And due to the pandemic, there’s a good chance you have more people working from home. That means they might be exposed to noises and distractions that usually go on while they’re away at work.
If you’re stepping up your fall maintenance, use Yardi Breeze to send an email to your residents. Let them know what’s going on, what days and times they can expect extra noise in the neighborhood and how long you think it will last.
Remember to build value when you’re communicating anything to a resident. In other words, explain why you’re doing maintenance and how the community will benefit. (Be specific!)
2. Rake leaves at least once per week
When there’s a lot of raking to be done, you have a few options:
- Hire a professional landscaper
- Put your renters in charge of cleaning around their units (put this in the lease)
- Do it yourself
If you have the time, only a few properties and want to save money, by all means do it yourself. However, this could easily be a weekly job. Plan your workload wisely.
3. Prune overgrown, loose & dangerous tree branches
Branch trimming may need to be done annually. As branches grow in the spring and summer, they can become hazards for residents:
- Snow buildup can make them heavy, causing them to fall
- They’re more likely to snap off in high wind
- Lightning may cause them to catch fire or shatter
- Any of the above can damage property and cause injury
This is not a job to take lightly or attempt to do by yourself, even if you know what you’re doing. Prune branches with at least two people, and let professionals handle larger branches.
4. Spray for bugs & patch holes to keep critters out
There’s nothing like waking up to insects on your stuff and signs of rodents on the floor. When the temperature drops, nature will try to find its way inside.
Time for a little fall maintenance to keep that under control.
A professional will know where to spray for insects and what to use. If you’re getting service requests for rodents, you may have holes that need to be patched up.
Here are some other cost-effective pest control options:
- Borax traps for ants
- Sticky fly paper
- Humane traps
Without seeing the culprit, it can be hard to tell the difference between a mouse and cockroach infestation. If there are any “leave-behinds,” ask tenants to snap a picture. They can send it via their tenant portal, and you can give it to a professional. Easy, breezy!
5. Inspect HVAC systems before it gets cold
HVAC systems tend to be used frequently in cold weather. That makes this is the perfect time of year to do some routine maintenance.
- Replace or clean any dirty filters
- Repair or replace parts that are showing signs of wear
- Schedule this maintenance in advance—don’t wait for a tenant to call about an issue
As managers of older properties know, some furnaces need to have their air bled out each year, which means loosening a release valve. It’s fast, easy and makes the room smell like rotten eggs for a few seconds. Email your tenants if they need to perform this task or if you need to set up a time to do it.
6. Clean chimneys & fireplaces
Over time, wood fires in home fireplaces produce a buildup of creosote, a tar-like substance that is highly flammable and dangerous. It’s important to clean chimneys on a regular basis, at least every other year.
Be sure you hire a chimney sweep professional or take a look yourself during your annual/official property inspection. The flue should be free of any serious buildup, and there should be no other obstructions. In other words, you should be able to open the damper and see the sky.
7. Get your mind in the gutter
Gutter cleaning may seem like routine fall maintenance, but it’s potentially dangerous. It’s easy to slip off a ladder, especially when your body is leaning, stretching and straining to push out leaves.
However, gutters need to be kept clean to avoid property water damage caused by heavy rain. Here are some simple ways to make this job safer:
- Use a high-quality gutter cleaning tool
- Hire a professional contractor
- Always use a ladder stabilizer
8. Ask residents to detach their garden hoses
If you do an annual inspection of your occupied units, this may be something you and your team can look out for and handle yourselves. Otherwise, you’ll have to remind your residents to unscrew their garden hoses and store them in a safe, dry location. Failure to do this could result in burst or damaged pipes, especially if you live in an area that experiences sudden, extreme drops in temperature.
9. Inspect smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
According to the CDC, carbon monoxide poisoning is most common during cold weather. Virtually all good detectors are now 2-in-1 smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Even though you rarely have to worry about replacing them (10-year, non-replaceable batteries are increasingly common), it’s important to inspect them once a month.
Pro tip: The best way to prevent monoxide poisoning and housefires is to maintain all appliances (both gas-burning and electric).
Fall maintenance is best done early
Don’t wait to get started on these jobs. While gutter cleaning and leaf raking may be routine tasks, tree branch trimming, pest control and HVAC inspections only need to be done once. The longer you wait to do your fall maintenance, the more likely you are to run into problems.