As winter approaches, tenants and landlords are looking forward to the most wonderful time of the year—the holiday festive season. But when it comes to rentals, it’s not all magic and celebrations. At least not until the rental property is prepared for the upcoming holidays.
Landlords and property owners are generally responsible for maintaining the outside of the building, but your tenants are responsible for the interiors. You all need to work together during the holiday season to keep the building safe and secure from harsh weather and holiday mishaps.
If you are a landlord or property manager, here are some tips you can pass on to your tenants to keep the holiday plans on track and the rental property safe.
Fire Prevention Tips
The National Fire Prevention Association estimates that more than 50% of house fires begin in the kitchen. Thanksgiving and Christmas are peak times for cooking, with lots of family members arriving for big meals. These tips can help you and your tenants enjoy a fire-free holiday season.
- Make sure smoke detectors are in good working order.
- Be sure your fire extinguisher is functioning and in a convenient space.
- Check the batteries in your smoke alarms and replace them if needed.
- Inspect electrical cords and make sure they are not frayed.
- Keep the stove and oven clean and free of debris or cooking utensils that can easily catch fire. Don’t forget that even convection stovetops get hot enough to start fires.
- Don’t leave cooking food unattended.
- Keep a box of baking soda available for putting out a grease fire. Remember that water cannot be used on a grease fire, and flour is combustible.
- If you will be deep-frying a turkey, keep the deep fryer away from overhangs and awnings. Be sure the turkey is completely thawed before frying.
Kitchens are the number-one source of fires during the holidays, but a little care can make them safe for holiday meal preparation.
Holiday Decoration Tips
Everyone loves to decorate for the holiday season. Now is a good time to check if your lease has an open flame policy and gently remind tenants if you don’t permit candles in the unit.
Below are some other holiday decoration tips to help keep your property safe during this season.
- Opt for a display of flameless candles instead of the usual ones.
- Check all electrical decorations for worn or damaged cords before use. Replace any broken plugs.
- Do not leave electrical decorations on at night, when sleeping, or when no one is home.
- Artificial Christmas trees should be labeled fire-resistant. Don’t use artificial trees outside unless the tree is labeled for both indoor and outdoor use.
- If you get a live tree, keep it away from heat sources. Make sure it has enough water, and clip dry branches before decorating. Never leave the lights plugged in when nobody is home.
- When putting up exterior decorations, use a reliable ladder. Don’t stand on a chair or other item. Have another person there to help you place decorations and string lights. Be sure to properly ground all exterior cords and double-check that they’re rated for outdoor use.
- Consider inflatable decorations to ensure minimal damage to walls and decks. They should either be battery-operated or properly plugged in. Be sure inflatables do not come in direct contact with any heat sources or open flames once inflated.
Holiday decorations announce a happy holiday season, but they can also become a property damage hazard. These basic safety guidelines will help keep properties safe.
Travel Plans Tips
Some lease agreements require tenants to notify landlords or property managers if they will be away for the holidays and to provide a point of contact in case of emergencies. Below are some other travel tips to keep you and your rental properties safe.
- Give your tenants an emergency contact number. If you will be unavailable, prepare a contact list for emergency repairs, security, and a family member or friend that can contact you in due time.
- Tenants should give you their contact information so you can notify them if you need to enter their units in case of emergencies, such as water intrusion, flood, or fire.
- Be alert for unusual activity in and around your properties, especially if you know tenants are away for the holidays.
- Drop your tenants a friendly reminder about parking or guests if you have lease restrictions.
- If you allow holiday subletting, be sure to remind tenants to let their guests know the rules about sidewalk and patio clearance, driveway maintenance, and other winter rules. If your lease does not allow subleases, a polite reminder is a good idea.
- Consider extra security for the holidays. If you have on-site security, inquire about extra patrols for the holiday period.
Vacations can be stressful, but a little forethought will keep them from becoming overwhelming in an emergency.
If you are renting your property during the holiday season, use our Short-Term Rental Agreement to outline the conditions of the stay.
Safety Tips in Case of Burglaries
It comes as no surprise that burglars and thieves love the holidays. Gifts are abundant, and people may be too busy merry-making to pay attention to furtive passers-by. Protect your property and tenants with a few precautions during this time of year—especially if you plan to be out of town for an extended period of time.
- Lock your doors. According to security professionals, 35% of burglars enter simply by opening your front door. Another 25% come in through the back door. Never leave your doors open while you run down the street for “just a second.”
- Leave the lights on. Burglars prefer empty homes, so making your home seem occupied is the best deterrence after locking the doors. You can even add lights on timers or holding mail in order to keep burglars away.
- Secure your windows. Sliding doors and windows can be reinforced with a metal rod or dowel in the track or with screw-on latches. Windows should not open more than two to three inches.
- Watch out for porch pirates. Amazon has made everyone’s lives easier, including crooks. If you are expecting holiday deliveries, keep track of when they will arrive, and remove them from your porch promptly.
- Mind your trash. Tossing out lots of boxes that used to contain electronics, wide-screen TVs, gaming equipment, and other high-end items lets burglars know your house is filled with tempting loot.
- Monitor your social media. Avoid telling all your Facebook friends that you’ll be away for Christmas or posting Instagram reels of your new computer setup. If you must do these things, try to scrub your location tags and keep your privacy settings as high as possible.
Nothing ruins your holiday cheer like being the victim of a crime. Practice these defensive techniques to avoid theft on your property.
Maintenance Tips for Extreme Temperatures
No property is safe from winter weather. In the East and North, snow, ice, and wind are winter hazards. In the west, winter can mean wildfire or mudslide season, depending on how much rain has fallen.
Warn your maintenance staff and your tenants to keep their eyes open for extreme temperature hazards. The following are some specific tips on how to manage your property during risky weather periods.
- Repair loose gutters, shingles, or siding. These items can come loose in high winds or heavy rain and should be repaired before winter sets in.
- Check roofs for leaks and drainage and remove debris. Flat roofs may have cracks that developed over the summer, while pitched roofs may be weighed down with leaves and branches.
- In very cold climates, wrap or bury all exterior pipes. Cover outside faucets and bring exterior hoses inside.
- Let any recent arrivals from warmer locations know about the risks of frozen pipes and how to prevent pipes from freezing.
- Be aware of the unique winter hazards of your region and provide your tenants with a tip sheet accordingly. Your local power company or city hall may have a winterization checklist on their website.
- Ask your regular maintenance person if they will be available over the holidays. Inquire about emergency holiday rates as well.
Hopefully, none of these dire weather emergencies will come to pass. However, preparing for them thoroughly is well worth the investment. No one wants roof leaks or pipe bursts during the holiday season, but planning ahead allows you to repair it quickly before anyone’s holiday is ruined, including yours.
Ringing in a Happy New Year for Your Tenants
The holidays should be the best time of year for you and your tenants. Planning ahead and making a few common sense preparations can keep everyone safe and secure once the celebrations are in full swing—from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day.
Once you have made it through the holidays, you can sit back and enjoy life during the remainder of your winter. After all, you’ve gotten through the toughest part of the year intact. All that’s left is shoveling out the driveway and waiting for the spring and summer months.
Managing or renting a property during the holidays may take a bit more work and consideration than at other times of the year. But it’s important to plan ahead in order to protect your tenants, property, and yourself. As long as that’s done, you can safely get into the holiday spirit knowing you’ve done everything right.