You know how when you start talking about the weather it usually means you can’t think of anything to say? Well, not this time.
Two words could affect your rental business in 2016: El Niño.
… and no, we’re not talking about Chris Farley’s SNL adaptation.
Winter and spring of 2016 will be El Niño season, which means that the tropical Pacific Ocean will be even warmer. And believe it or not, this could cause some serious damage to your rental properties.
Why the Concern?
El Niño patterns can cause weather changes all around the world. If you lived in or owned property in California in 1997 and 1998, you might remember the flooding and landslides caused from heavier-than-normal rainfall.
While California is certainly hit hard, El Niño conditions affect more than just The Golden State. Here’s how they affect different parts of the country: Note that these are averages and that there are certainly other outliers.
- The Gulf Coast / Southern Mississippi Valley: Wetter than average
- Pacific Southwest: Might be wetter than average, depending on how strong an El Niño event it is
- Mid Atlantic: Drier conditions
- Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies: Might be drier
- Hawaii: Less than normal rainfall
Regarding snow, there is generally below-average snowfall in the northern states and more snow in the southern states in El Niño years.
If your rental property floods, and displaces your tenants, you might have to pay for a hotel while the repairs are made. Worst, they might terminate the lease, and leave you without rental income!
3 Precautions to Protect your Property
So how does El Niño relate to you as a property owner? It means you should be as prepared as possible, particularly in an area that might experience wetter or snowier conditions.
Here are the top industry-recommended prevention methods you might wish to consider for your properties.
1. Clear Roofs and Gutters
You don’t want a leaky roof, especially during a rainy season. Call a roofer to come out, and ask for a preventive maintenance inspection. If the roofer finds any problems, you can get them fixed before you have to deal with water damage.
If you haven’t cleaned out the gutters in a while, it’s time you did so. Even better, when you have the roofer out, have them clean the gutters and the downspouts.
If you’re in a colder climate or in the southern states that get snow, you might want to consider adding gutter heaters. They prevent ice dams and keep the gutters running clear.
2. Improve Poor Drainage
Ideally, the grounds surrounding your property should slope away from the house. Otherwise, you could have a lake where your lawn used to be, and water can seep into your basement or house. You’ll need to re-grade to achieve this.
You might be able to solve a water drainage problem by creating adequate drainage. One idea is to create a drainage swale, which acts as a drainage ditch to carry water away from your house. The water can go to a lower elevation, such as a wooded area, or it can drain into a pipe or a landscape drain.
If you already have a drainage system, check it to make sure it isn’t clogged, which prevents it from doing its job. If you find debris in there, clear it out. You might need to use a drain snake to clear everything. Then, run water through the drain to make sure it’s working properly. If there’s still a problem, you should probably call a plumber.
If you don’t, repairing water damage to your home could cost you more than a plumber would.
3. Windows and Doors
An easy way to prevent water from coming in through windows and doors is to use flashing membranes, also called flashing tape. You can use this material on many materials, such as vinyl, metal, and wood.
Note that this is a temporary solution to leaky windows and doors, but it’s better than letting water in.
Always Be Prepared
There’s no guarantee when predicting the weather. How often do TV weathermen get it wrong, after all? But during an El Niño year, you can count on some weather events that bring wetter weather. So knowing this, you have some time to batten down the hatches.
Good luck to you this winter and spring!