Working with Tenants to Weatherproof a Property
When you're responsible for a property, any breach in its ability to resist the elements is a potential problem. When the roof shingles need repair, you take care of it quickly, before leaks can happy. The same applies if the attic was leaking, the basement flooding, or a window cracked. Weatherproofing is no different, as it creates the necessary seal around doors and windows to keep the outside out of the properties you work hard to maintain. When it comes down to it, good weatherproofing is beneficial to everyone involved. While it keeps the house safe for you and the owner, it also lowers the power bill and increases the comfort of the tenants who live inside.
Tenants Want to Weatherproof
While not all tenants are active stewards of the homes they rent, a cold draft through the house is a great motivation to start worrying about cracks in the wall, the integrity of old weather stripping, and whether or not those double-paned windows are still sealed and gas-insulated. Those who live in climates that freeze every winter and have experienced the chilling mess of a frozen pipe also tend to take a personal interest in their plumbing as the temperature drops. This means that in many cases, your tenants are already looking into ways to weatherproof so if you want to be a part of that process, it's best to work together.
Your tenants live on the properties you manage, giving them a lot more chances to notice and hunt down a draft than you have in one or two winter inspections. Make sure you have a plan with your tenants on policy and acceptable methods for sealing up any drafts they find while living in and moving around their homes.
Some questions to answer include:
- Will you cover half, all, or specific weatherproofing expenses?
- Can they use caulk, and if so what kind?
- Can they install new weather stripping on windows and doors?
- Can they make permanent improvements or do they need to stick with temporary only solutions?
- Do you want to be there / perform the weatherproofing procedures?
- Should they call you before any weatherproofing action?
What to Look For in a Weatherproofing Inspection
Even if you encourage tenants to handle their own practical weatherproofing solutions, you may still want to do a cursory inspection for obvious risks. Loose windows, and double-paned windows with moisture inside are a sure sign that air can get through. Cracks in the walls or floor should also be addressed and weather stripping should be investigated to ensure that it forms a satisfactory seal. Help your tenant identify where their heating vents are and re-arrange furniture if they have been accidentally blocked during the warmer months. Finally, make sure to insulate all pipes that can be reached with inexpensive foam insulation, or even just a cut section of funnoodle.
Offer Further Weatherproofing Advice
While it's not your home, there are also a few things your tenants can do in terms of decor and actions that can significantly improve the energy efficiency and warmth of their home and you can at least offer your advice. Dark colored, heavy, and thermally lined curtains pulled closed at night and when it is especially cold will help stop the outside chill at the windows while rugs will keep it from seeping up through the floor. Draft guards, even on interior doors, will help each room maintain individual heat.
One final interesting note is that outlets often open directly, if through small holes, into the unheated space between the walls. Putting foam-tipped outlet covers into unused sockets will help keep the chill from sneaking in from an unexpected source.
Your tenants want to eliminate drafts as much or more than you do as the property manager. When you have an established plan in place, most will be more than happy to share the responsibility of weatherproofing the property in order to eliminate leaks, drafts, and the risk of burst pipes.