Spring Cleaning Checklist for Landlords

“I didn’t expect to see you again, Mr. Driveway Crack! Get out of here!” Mutter to yourself loudly while working. Your tenants will think you’re unbalanced, and will pay early and be extra courteous to try to avoid angering you.

For instance, landlords must have screens in place from April 1 through October 31.

It’s that time of year when if it snows, it doesn’t stick. Time to get our exteriors back into shape! Here is your spring cleaning checklist for landlords to stay ahead of maintenance issues.

  1. Remove and store snow supplies. Many landlords set out salt, sand, ice breaker mats, shovels, or stair treads to deal with ice. Don’t leave these out year-round because they reduce curb appeal and customer satisfaction. Rubber mats on wooden stairs can lead to rot underneath, and the mats themselves will last longer if dried and taken indoors.
  2. Did you have icicles or ice dams? If so, check that interior walls didn’t get water stained. You may need to replace, prime, and paint. Also, look outside at gutters to make sure they’re still attached to the roof, sloped properly, and not dripping.
  3. Do you have stone walls or a fieldstone foundation? Walk around and look for frost heave, masonry chips, or other ice damage. A tell-tale sign is sand at the base of a stone wall or foundation. This is where the mortar has fallen apart.
  4. Pick up and sweep up! Debris gets buried under the snow, and when it melts, landlords are left with a coating of sand sprinkled with garbage. Schedule time on a nice sunny day to go around with a push broom, latex gloves, and a trash bag.  Pick up and throw away the trash. If your community has spring street sweeping, sweep the sand into the street. Otherwise, collect usable sand in a barrel for use next winter, or throw away fine, dusty sand in small, light batches. Don’t sweep sand into your lawn or landscaping; it will worsen your soil quality each year you do this.
  5. Are your screens still intact? The Massachusetts state sanitary code requires landlords to have screens in place from April 1 through October 31 on all windows and doors used for ventilation. Sometimes falling icicles nick these. Some landlords take their screens off. If that’s you, put them back on ahead of the deadline.
  6. Are your heat pumps still in tip-top shape? Landlords with exterior heat pumps should get up close and examine that all piping is still sealed and insulated, nothing is dripping, the electrical connections are snug, and none of the hangers or supports are bent or damaged. This is a 60 second task that can save you a big headache later. Springtime is a good maintenance time between heating and air conditioning.
  7. Do you have driveway cracks? Box improvement stores sell a toxic smorgasbord of crack-fillers. Tiny tubes of asphalt caulk can seal micro holes. Big buckets of moisture-activated cold top can seal gashes from plows, shovels, ice chippers, and more. Plan to do this work on a hot day. Mark the areas with wet pavement using duct tape to help your tenants avoid tracking it indoors. Don’t use painter’s tape, it won’t stick to the ground. Fold over the end of each strip so you can grasp it and peel it back up.
  8. Are your exterior spigots still working? Some landlords disable these, but if you use spigots to water the lawn, turn the pressure back on and check that they are working. Remember that we are still in drought! Exterior watering is prohibited in many communities.
  9. Smoke alarms! This has nothing to do with spring, but remember that you are supposed to be upgrading everything to ten-year batteries. Now is as good a time as any!

Schedule a time to walk around your property and ask your tenants about what needs a spring touch-up. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

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