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A Multifamily Manager’s Guide to the Winter Months

December 16, 2016 Elizabeth Francisco
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‘Tis the season! The holiday months are among us, which means colder weather, residents heading home for the holidays, and maintenance teams dealing with the unexpected. While you can’t plan for everything, it’s best to get ahead on the things you can plan for. We’ve previously shared How to Manage Your Property Management Team During Busy Season, now we’re outlining a few tips to help property managers keep up with the winter season!

 

Maintenance Checklist

As winter rolls around be sure maintenance teams are on top of preventative items and timely maintenance requests. Repairs will cost more than the preemptive maintenance.

  • Check all lights around the property’s exterior. Odds are, some trees have grown in and over exterior lights. With darker hours of the winter months, it’s important to keep your residents feeling safe and have adequate exterior lighting around the property.
  • Clear out gutters of any debris that has found its way into the drains to avoid leaks or dangerous accumulation of snow and ice.
  • Double check furnaces and boilers to ensure everything’s in good condition in order to avoid a system failure during dire times. 
  • Trim the trees around the property to avoid branches falling down due to snow, ice, and high winds. 
  • Stock up on ice melts for those unexpected winter blizzards that leave your complex covered in dangerous ice or snow. With plenty of de-icing chemicals in stock, you’ll never panic when a wintery storm blows through. 
  • Insulate pipes in common areas that at run through exterior walls or are exposed to the air and colder parts of the building. Visit your local hardware store to find some self-sealing foam tubes or insulative tape that can be used to wrap pipes. 
  • Clear outdoor storm drains so melting snow or sleeting rain has a place to drain 

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Check gutters before they become unmanageable! Here’s 5 things you didn’t know about clogged gutters.

Resident Updates

By getting ahead on maintenance prevention, you’ll have more time and sanity to deal with the unsuspecting resident issues that are bound to arise. But take advantage of a few techniques to keep that number down.

Empower your residents to keep their units in working order over the holidays and winter months by sending around reminders through a door flier, your online portal, or an email. Advise residents on best practices for freeze guarding apartment units while out of town. Provide an online or print-out checklist that highlights all the necessary steps to ensuring no damage is done to their apartment during the winter. Add items like: Don’t forget to open cabinets, leave the heaters on, keep all faucets slowly dripping, call maintenance as soon as you experience something damaging or concerning within your apartment unit.

 

Holiday Packages

Holiday-related concerns aren’t always weather related. Some of the great source of chaos comes from holiday packages flooding into apartment buildings. This can bring a few issues to surface, especially if a property doesn’t have an organized method for package delivery and distribution to residents.

Crime naturally increases over the holiday season. So in order to keep residents feeling secure, double check that entrance gates are always working properly. Monitor resident portals or reports and address any issues immediately, possibly by either adding extra security over the holidays or researching how to make mailboxes more secure.

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Holidays bring an increase in packages to multifamily properties. Challenges properties face on Cyber Monday and beyond via Bisnow.

Another option is to encourage residents to schedule their delivery through the FedEx (www.fedex.com/us/delivery) & UPS (www.ups.com/mychoice) websites or a number of private delivery services.  

Alert residents on how to handle mail fraud or package theft. Urge them to report issues directly to the Postal Inspectors through their website, www.postalinspectors.uspis.gov and ‘File A Complaint’ to immediately notify an inspector.

 

Regional differences

Just because your region isn’t prone to snow, doesn’t mean it won’t happen. But, it also doesn’t mean you should put winter maintenance prevention on the back burner. Yes, even Texas, Florida, and California experience nights in the freezing digits and properties can suffer. When it does snow, properties are often not prepared to handle a worst-case scenario winter storm.

Keep a close on weather changes, and act fast. Send around an email blast that notifies residents of freezing conditions and safety procedures — remember, this doesn’t just have to relate to your property. Advise on general safety tips, such as avoiding driving when black ice is present.

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Balcony holiday decorating inspiration for apartment properties to share with residents via DIY Home.

Holiday lighting

Holidays are a great time to bring attention back to the exterior of the apartment community. You spent all those landscaping dollars on trimming trees, planting flowers, and creating expert curb appeal and now leaves have fallen and the sun now goes down just after work, which makes it harder to give the same vibrant curb appeal.

Spruce up the building exteriors with some festive holiday lighting. Daily commuters will take notice to the change, attracting new eyes to the property and possibly even to prospective renters. Take the extra step to light up the trees around your complex or decorate the entrance to the community clubhouse. For those resident facing the streets, challenge them with a decorating contest for best holiday patio and reward them with a prize (i.e., a month subscription to Blue Apron, gift card to a local restaurant, or whatever your team deems fitting!).

Best of luck making the holidays fun, festive, and safe! Let us know what great ideas you have for your property this season!

 

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