The Biggest Holiday Risks Your Tenants Should Watch For

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When your tenants head out for the holidays there are some holiday risks to consider for both you the landlord and for the tenants.

Many people will be vacating their homes as the holidays arrive, and apartment residents are no exception. Before tenants head out for sunny weather or snow-filled fun, landlords might want to give them a run-down of what to expect and prepare for in their homes.

Many landlords include terms in their leases that cover proper procedures for leaving a rental for a period of time. However, for those whose contracts don’t include this, property managers may be wondering how to advise renters on holiday preparation.

Giving tenants a heads-up is relatively straightforward — an email or a similar form of written communication will suffice. Most cold-weather safety tips are common sense and easy to enact, reducing the stress of doing time-consuming prep before a vacation. Here are some areas of concern landlords can advise tenants on.

1. Holiday risks and fire hazards

A marvelous Christmas tree can turn into a fire hazard if the lights are left unattended. Candles and string lights create wistful holiday cheer, but they can be dangerous if improperly used. Similarly, renters should never switch on a space heater and leave it unattended.

The Biggest Holiday Risks Your Tenants Should Watch For

Renters can avoid many holiday fire hazards by being diligent about fire safety and noting potential risks. Tenants should test the smoke and carbon-monoxide alarms regularly to ensure they are working. If the devices don’t operate correctly, landlords can inform tenants about replacing the batteries or take care of this issue promptly.

In many cases, this is the landlord’s responsibility, meaning they’ll need to pay a visit and inspect everyone’s detectors.

2. Break-ins and holiday risks

Residents should close and lock all doors and windows to reduce holiday risks. Locking up securely can spell the difference between a unit remaining undisturbed or being broken into. Landlords can also set up security systems or simply post signs about surveillance cameras to deter unwanted activity.

Landlords often encourage their residents to buy renter’s insurance to protect their belongings. It’s a requirement for many properties, though if tenants are reluctant to sign on, landlords can review the benefits of it with them. Most insurance companies offer it for affordable rates, and it covers aspects like temporary living expenses and personal property.

Finally, anyone who’s heading off for vacation should avoid broadcasting their whereabouts on social media. That is a holiday risk easy to avoid. Landlords can give renters a nudge about this by reminding them to keep their location known to only a few — including the property owner.

3. Energy waste

Tenants should shut off and unplug all unnecessary appliances before they head out for the festivities. Leaving the lights on isn’t the best idea, either, with 40 percent of all energy usage in buildings attributed to lighting costs.

It’s essential to set the HVAC on a lower temperature, too. It’s tempting to keep the heating running high throughout the chilly days to have a toasty home to return to. However, cranking the heat up while no one’s home wastes energy and makes utility bills costlier than they need to be.

Property managers can do their part by inspecting the building envelope of their rental property for gaps; even small cracks can lead to major energy loss. The building envelope is the barrier between the rental’s interior and the exterior setting.

4. Frozen pipes

Every landlord will do their best to help tenants prevent frozen pipes. The interior temperature shouldn’t be so high that it makes a dent in the energy bill, though. Energy waste is a significant issue for both renters and homeowners, as described above. The apartment only needs to be warm enough to keep the water flowing. A preferable temperature is above 50 degrees but below 70.

If there is a sink on an outside wall, open the under-sink cabinets to keep the pipes warm. Letting the faucets drip can also keep the pipes from freezing, preventing residents from coming back to a wet rental. Burst pipes are messy and expensive to fix, and tenants can be liable if they don’t have renter’s insurance.

The Biggest Holiday Risks Your Tenants Should Watch For

Make sure the heat is on and any under sink cabinet doors open if tenants are away and the weather is freezing.

5. Lonely pets

If renters aren’t taking their pets with them on vacation, they’ll benefit from hiring a sitter to watch their furry friends. A bored pet can do a lot of damage to a home, especially with absences of more than a couple days. Tenants may have to forfeit their deposits if their beloved pet destroys the interior while they’re gone.

Hiring a pet sitter has the added advantage of having someone to check on the apartment — or maintain it if they plan to stay there. Someone can feed the pets, check the mail and keep an eye out for suspicious happenings. It’s a three-in-one win.

The Biggest Holiday Risks Your Tenants Should Watch For

Hiring a pet sitter while away lowers the risks for tenants and landlords.

Celebrate a disaster-free holiday

The holiday season poses unique concerns for renters, but they can avoid these issues by preparing their homes ahead of time. Landlord-tenant communications should be clear and concise to prevent misunderstandings or larger problems later on.

With some helpful maintenance tips, everyone can enjoy their holidays without stress or mess.

5 To-Do’s For Property Managers As Tenants Head Out For Vacations

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Holly Welles writes about real estate market trends from a millennial perspective. She is the editor behind The Estate Update, a residential real estate blog, and keeps up with the industry over on Twitter @HollyAWelles

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