10 Things You Should Be Prepared for Becoming a Landlord or Homeowner

When you are getting ready to buy a home whether for yourself or as an investment property you should always be prepared for the unexpected.

Whether you can do things yourself or you have to hire someone it is always good to know what to do in a situation that requires maintenance or if something breaks.

What is important to keep in mind is even when you buy home insurance or landlord insurance, not everything can be covered under your policy. After all, insurance is for the sudden and unexpected and not the stuff which was bound to happen.

Have a quick look below at situations which can occur in your property – easy situations and ones not so much. See what can be done to fix or prevent it and most importantly to be prepared for the unexpected!

  1. Pipe Burst

Pipes bursting can be as result of many things – usually because of cold whether that freezes the pipes and causes it to expand which in turn breaks the pipe and water starts to burst out. What’s important to know here – is if this happens to you – where to turn off the main water in the house and to also make sure that the main shutoff is operable. If you have pipes freezing it is a good idea to consider more insulation to prevent this from happening. Pipes bursting can also happen because of poor installation or just old age – which is why it is important to know what kind of pipes your house has and if there are any concerns. Remember, water damage is not always covered under your insurance policy and you should ask your home insurance professional if it is included in your policy.

2. Damaged Drywall

Sounds simple right? Although it is not always a big deal you always want to make sure your walls look clean, holes are patched up and the drywall is even. This not only improves the general housekeeping of your house but it can also help the resale value if you ever plan to sell down the line. Drywall damage is usually not worth putting through insurance and it might not be covered if it was caused by vandalism of your tenants. DIY’ing drywall repairs will also help you keep the costs down – but if you don’t think you can do a clean and even job – hire a professional.

3. Clay Sewer Pipe Under Your Basement Slabs Breaks Down and Causing Water to Backup.

This is one of those things that happens quite often in older homes – and what is important to know is it is virtually never covered under home insurance. Clay pipes are old and susceptible to breaking down which is why it could be a good idea to replace it before something happens – especially before finishing a basement. Replacing the clay pipe includes cutting open the concrete, removing all the pipe and replacing it with modern plastic. This job is usually difficult and messy and should be done by a professional.

4. Breakers Keep Tripping or Fuses Pop When using appliances.

Circuit breakers tripping or fuses popping generally means there are too many devices connected to the same circuit. Consider having a professional electrician take look at installing a better service. Remember, not all insurance companies want to insure properties that have less than 100 AMP service or houses that still have fuses. Furthermore, problems with electrical can be very serious and the last thing you want is an electrical fire – so call a professional to take a look at the problem or upgrade the service.

5. Drafts Through Windows and Doors

Drafts might not sound like a big deal but it can get expensive for your heating bill and it can make living in your property uncomfortable. There are short term solutions such as adding special films or weather stripping. Better fixes include fixing redoing the caulking inside and outside windows and doors and fixing any trim. If the windows or doors are old you may just need to have them professionally replaced and caulked. Furthermore, you should consider fixing drafts right away – cold drafts can cause pipes to burst and also can cause long term damage causing mold and condensation which can rot the inside of your house. Mold and condensation rot is not covered under insurance.

6. Interlock is Popping Out or Steps are Uneven

First impressions are everything – and the last thing you want is you, your family, a tenant, a friend or a stranger tripping over an uneven step or interlock that’s popping out. Sometimes steps just need to be repositioned and other times a complete regrading is needed to do a proper job. In any case, whether you choose to do it yourself or hire a professional this will increase curb appeal and the safety of your property. From an insurance perspective this can be a liability claim under your home insurance. That being said the last thing you want is a letter from some snazzy sounding law firm that they are suing you for damages because their client slipped while on your property. A simple fix can solve a world of headaches later on!

7. Furnace Needs Cleaning or Replacing

Having a furnace run efficiently is not only good for your bills but also the air quality in your home. Filters should be changed on average every one to three months. If your furnace is over twenty years old you should consider replacing it. From an insurance perspective there is no coverage if a furnace simply breaks down due to wear and tear and an insurance company might not want to insure your property if the furnace is over twenty five years old.

8. Shower / Toilet / Sink is Leaking

Even small leaks can cause serious damage. Think about it – one faucet with a leak causing 3 droplets per minute is one liter of water per day. By letting water leak it can cause serious damage over the long term. What is worse is this kind of leaks are never covered under home insurance, for water damage to be covered you first need to have the coverage on your policy and it needs to be sudden and accidental. Slow leaks are usually maintenance issues. If you suspect anything leaking in your home, make sure you get a licensed plumber to check it out. It will also save you on your water bill – so the sooner the better.

9. Basement Wall is Leaking / Crack in Foundation

This could be a big one and usually it involves a lot of work. Most importantly you should know that this is never covered under insurance as it again relates to the foundation & maintenance of the home. Foundation cracks or waterproofing issues require experts with years of experience to properly waterproof your home and install the proper drainage. Waterproofing and crack repairs typically require digging from the outside of the home and inspecting the area, applying sealants to the crack and waterproofing the wall with a tar. Newer methods can involve simply sealing the crack and applying a special plastic adhesive. If outside access is not available – usually due to proximity of neighbors or other objects – you may need to consider interior waterproofing. In any case, contact an expert to look at this problem as soon as possible – as water can easily enter into your basement and cause a world of damage quickly or over time.

10. Shingles Flew Off the Roof

The roof over your head is not just a metaphor – it protects your home from the elements. Typically, windstorm damage to your roof is covered under a standard home insurance policy but if the roof is over twenty five years old you may receive a depreciated value for the damages to your roof. But keep in mind if the roof is old and a slow leak occurs causing damage, this would not be covered. Furthermore, a few shingles flying off your roof may not warrant an insurance claim, you should have a trusty roofer on speed dial just in case this situation ever happens to you. If you are just purchasing a property – the home inspection will typically tell you the condition of the roof and when it needs to be updated.

The above is only a short list of things that can happen to a typical property in Ontario, Canada – whether old or new. And that is why you want to make sure you are prepared to deal with surprises as they happen.

All the best!