How do you make your investment properties in Kansas City resistant to winter?
As we anticipate winter real quick, there’s no denying the fact that nature might have other ideas. As the leaves change color and eventually fall from the trees, our minds wander to warm and pleasant indoor activities.
With the changing of the seasons, Kansas City rental investment property owners‘ minds will turn to immediate property needs. These property owners should also be aware of the cold-weather management difficulties on their to-do list.
Whether their properties are unoccupied or leased to dependable tenants, property owners may find themselves financially accountable if they do not take the necessary steps to solve any maintenance issues.
According to Jason Jones, vice president of client experience at REInsurePro, knowing the ins and outs of liability coverage is critical for reducing possible costs if something bad happens with an investment or rental property.
“REInsurePro is a national program manager focused on providing insurance for property investors. So, if an investor may have a location that is vacant, occupied or under renovation, we support those investors by offering different types of insurance whether that is property, liability, or other ancillary options like the Tenant Protector Plan (TPP) service line coverage and earth movement,” Jones explained. “All of this is accessible to independent agents who service real estate investor clients.”
Jones stressed the importance of a rental or investment property owner being fully informed of the typical issues that come with insuring a property and ensuring that they have adequate insurance coverage.
What is the Major Cause of Loss During the Winter?
Frozen pipes are the leading cause of claims during the winter season, according to Jones. Failure to winterize or clean the water pipes of a vacant property, as well as failure to maintain the heat even if the property is idle, are two areas that a property owner should address to avoid potential property destruction and money spent on expensive repairs.
“With frozen pipes what tends to happen is that as outside temperatures drop, the temperature inside the house, wherever those water lines may be, is even colder and the water within the lines actually freezes. Then once the temperature rises, those pipes that were frozen, have been split or failed in some way and the water within is what causes the damage throughout the home,” Jones illustrated.
Jones added that property owners should “turn the water off and clear the water lines (if unoccupied), and maintaining the heat is very important (recommended to be set to at least 55 degrees). I would also recommend making sure that the insulation surrounding the property itself is appropriate.”
Another sometimes ignored issue that investment property owners must resolve for a vacant location is the inclusion of a biodegradable antifreeze to assist prevent any serious freezing inside the plumbing system if the water temperature decreases.
Investment Properties Tenant Maintenance Advice
Although the owner is usually responsible for losses on the premises, it is beneficial for tenants to be informed of locations that could pose a threat or cause property damage if left unattended.
It’s critical to ensure that tenants are doing their share to keep up with property maintenance. Jones also stated that it is the responsibility of property owners to maintain touch with tenants and talk over maintenance issues with them in order to reduce the chance of future difficulties arising down the rental line.
“The challenges that come about a lot of times are those that are preventable and things that the tenant may have noticed but didn’t understand could create an issue in the future,” Jones pointed out.
“So, for example, for properties with chimneys, we want to make sure the chimney flue, crown, and cap are cleaned and inspected annually. Also, before the tenant uses the fireplace, make sure that the tenants understand how to safely use it and eliminate obvious hazards during use,” Jones stated.
In the end, Jones wants to “bring home the fact that the renter may require some direction on goods or gadgets installed at the property, as well as general things to keep an eye on, on a daily basis.” Knowledge of basic maintenance methods, as well as the necessary documentation, can be quite beneficial.
The appropriate maintenance of smoke and CO2 detectors is one of the areas both tenants and owners should be aware of, according to Jones.
While tenants may easily cover the cost of replacing batteries, Jones cautioned that if there is an issue with the installation or performance of these units, the property owner may be held liable. Another reason for investment and rental property owners to ensure they have premises liability insurance is to protect themselves against lawsuits.
What Do You Think The Insurance Takeaway Is?
All real estate owners need insurance, but they also need to ensure that their investment properties are well-maintained in order to create a safe environment for potential or current renters.
“For properties in cold weather climates, agents should advise clients with investment properties that if their property policy is for Basic Form coverage (which can save them some money in premium), they will not have coverage for the water damage caused by a burst pipe,” Jones explained.
“Generally, property and liability insurance is the responsibility of the property owner, whereas the personal contents and other property of the tenants are the responsibility of the tenant to make sure renters’ insurance is in place if there was a loss affecting their personal property,” Jones added.
Jones wants property owners to understand what falls squarely on their lap when things go wrong to help limit liability risk. At the very least, having property and liability insurance coverage for their risk that is expressly designed for investment homes will help to mitigate any financial consequences.