Landlords: Winter Is Coming

With snow, wind, and freezing temperatures, winter can be especially hard on houses and apartments. Before the chilly weather hits, it’s time to prepare your rental properties for the season.

Here are some items that should be on every landlord’s winter checklist.


Check all of your properties’ roofs for signs of damage, such as cracks, missing shingles, or loose flashing around chimneys. Pay close attention to high-wear areas.

Windows and Doors

Take a look at the caulking and weather-stripping surrounding doors and windows. Re-caulk any deteriorating caulk and consider adding door sweeps under entrance doors. Make sure all of the windows close properly on the top and the bottom. If there’s any cracked glass, replace it. If you have storm windows, now’s the time to install them.


Check the walls for cracks and openings, particularly ones big enough that animals can crawl inside. In cold weather, mice and other pets start moving indoors in search of warmer shelter. Look for gaps around any pipes that lead into the structure, as well as around entrance doors. (While you’re at it, check any exposed foundation walls for deterioration.)

Thermostats and Heating Systems

You should already be performing monthly maintenance on your rental’s heating system—replacing the air filters is especially important to help the overall system work more efficiently. If the thermostat runs on batteries, make sure to replace them at the beginning of the season. Service your boilers and furnaces—do the work yourself if you’re comfortable with it, or work with a heating contractor.


When the wind blows and snow starts piling up, tree branches can be the first to snap. Check for any low-hanging branches near roofs or power lines—especially on older trees. Cut dangerous overhanging branches away—or consider removing troublesome trees entirely.


Clean and inspect your gutters, downspouts, and eaves for blockage and leakage. Pay attention to any loose or rotted areas and split seams.

Other tips for a stress-free winter for you and your tenants:

Tell tenants to keep the heat on. Frozen water pipes aren’t just an inconvenience to your tenants—they can lead to major damage to your property. To help avoid this, advise your tenants to keep the heat in their home at a predetermined minimum (for example, 65 degrees Fahrenheit). You may also want to ask your tenants to leave a faucet dripping on nights when the weather is expected to plunge below freezing.

Prepare to remove snow and ice. When the first snowfalls come, will you be able to keep the steps and walkways on your property clear? Get your supplies now—make sure you have snow shovels, ice melter, or sand and salt to apply to the areas where your tenants walk.

Neglected maintenance is one of the biggest causes of tenant complaints. But no matter how well prepared you are in any season, accidents may still happen. Representation by a qualified Maryland landlord law attorney can be an invaluable tool in a weather-related crisis. Contact Lusk Law for a consultation.

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