The Scrooge Effect: Common Winter Complaints and How to Address Them
The holidays are the most wonderful time of year until they aren’t. Along with cold weather, wintertime can bring on an array of emotions and feelings. It’s important to be mindful of the wide realm of needs when addressing tenant concerns. Here are common issues tenants may bring to a landlord or property manager’s attention along with suggested approaches to take in response:
Snow removal – “Am I going to be able to park in my usual spot?” “Am I responsible for shoveling my own spot/sidewalk?” “What time are you going to clear the lot?” To calm concerned tenants, the person in charge must be proactive. If winter weather is in the forecast, send out an alert reiterating your snow removal policy. Even if your policy or related information is clearly marked in your rental agreement, it’s still a good idea to remind your tenants where to find that information when inclement weather rolls around. Communication is key. Your tenants want to know the protocol before the event of a snowstorm, not during.
Electricity – The power’s out, now what? This is a tricky issue to address as a timely resolution is typically out of your hands. The optimal course of action is to be in contact with your electric company often to ensure you’re getting the latest updates. If the power is out for an extended period, you may need to consider offering rent deductions and or hotel stay reimbursements. To avoid power outages completely investing in backup generators may be your safest bet. The upfront cost may be intimidating but it could save you money in the long run.
Dirty and slushy floors – This may seem like a minor issue but for some renters, this is the icing on the cake. A good way to reduce the slush is by doubling up on your doormats. Place a doormat outside your door to stomp off snow then place another immediately inside your doorway. Don’t forget to remind your tenants of basic housekeeping like wiping their feet before entering the building.
Reduced indoor air quality – It’s not just the weather outside that can be frightful, the air quality inside may be equally concerning. Colder and drier air traps pollutants making the air quality noticeably lower. HVAC inspections and regular heater and AC tune-ups can help you stay on top of your indoor air quality. While it doesn’t eliminate stale air, the circulation of air provided by ceiling fans can help dilute pollutants throughout a space for a short-term fix. It’s important to take air quality concerns seriously as they can lead to severe health issues if not addressed properly.
Heating issue – Temperatures may lower, but a tenant’s expectations will not. Legally, you must provide adequate heat in your tenants’ living spaces. Exact temperature requirements may depend on the local property maintenance codes. It’s important for both you and your tenants to understand and comply with your state’s heating regulations to best ensure a safe and habitable living environment. A simple step to take is to remind your tenants to not block heating vents. If you still come across a heating issue, make sure to reassure your tenant a solution is in the works and be ready to offer short-term solutions such as space heaters or alternative housing options.
Keep in mind each of these issues could quickly turn dire if not handled properly and may require legal advice to be dealt with. You don’t need to overwhelm your tenants with unnecessary updates however keeping them in the loop is crucial. Hopefully, these tips will make winter less frightful and more delightful for you and your tenants!