The winter months can be treacherous on homes and if a rental home isn’t properly prepared, landlords stand to lose a lot of money.

“Vacation owners or anybody who owns a second home has to give some thought to what might happen in the event of severe weather,” says Heather Bayer of VacationHomeRentals.com.  “The owner needs to think about what they can do in the case of an emergency, what could happen to the property and what impact any situation could have on guests.”

From having emergency plan in place to properly winterizing a home, here’s a look at four things rental owners need to do to protect their property from Old Man Winter.

Tip 1: Plan for Disaster

Homeowners have to be proactive against bad weather, and one of the best ways to do that, according to Bayer, is to brainstorm everything that could go wrong .

After identifying potential problems, create an action plan to get the problem fixed quickly.

“Once that is in place and something happens, they will know which plumber to call or who the best repair man is,” she says.

Tip 2:  Create a List of Verified Service Professionals

The middle of a crisis is not the time to start looking up and cold calling potential repair people.

HomeAway vacation rental owner Catherine Mettey recommends creating a list of nearby service providers including electricians, plumbers and even snow removers to have in case of an emergency.

She also says owners should have at least one person close by that can check in on a property to assess potential damage. “There's nothing worse for a renter to feel alone in a strange place when there are problems.”

Tip 3: Create and Share a Storm Recovery Plan

Just like companies create a disaster recovery plan, property owners need to create one and put it in writing and share it with guests.

“Because the winters can be so unpredictable, an owner needs to think ahead and supply the renter with a "What-If" action plan so if something does happen, the renter will know what to do or who to call,” says Mettey. “This gives peace-of-mind to both the renter and the owner. 

She recommends a plan that includes solutions to problems like:  what happens if the power goes out, the furnace shuts off, water stops running or the roads aren’t clear. She adds that owners should also stock the cupboards with emergency essentials like canned foods, batteries and medical supplies.

Tip 4: Prepare the Guests for Weather Hazards

Rental owners need to prepare their guests about the weather they may encounter at the property’s location.

“People booking may not have any knowledge about the conditions outside their urban environment,” says Bayer. “It’s important to let people know what it’s like even an hour out of the city.”

For instance, city dwellers might not be used to waiting days for roads to be cleared .Preparing the guests ahead of time will help create a hiccup-free stay and hopefully create repeat customers. “We encourage owners to write their winter documents and send it to people even before they book,” says Bayer. “You prepare them so there are no surprises.”

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