Winter in Oregon can be hell on your park if you aren’t prepared. While many parks are filled with older, knowledgeable owners, some tenants are first-timers in mobile home parks. They might not know about the specific things they need to do to protect their homes—and your park—when winter sets in.
When my tenants are getting their homes ready, I’m getting my drainage systems ready. Keeping the water flowing is the biggest part of getting through an Oregon winter. This is the time to incentivize mobile park residents to do some home maintenance. Let your tenants know what to do and your infrastructure will take care of itself – with a few extra steps on your part.
Getting Your Tenants to Weatherize Their Homes
The biggest winter issue we run into in the mobile home parks business is cracked and frozen pipes. That can disrupt your tenants and back up your entire water connection. A small crack can spider out over time and make its way deep into your pipes. It can even cause water contamination, which will drain your mobile home park’s value. Every year before winter, usually in early September, I have my managers send out information on how to prepare pipes for winter. Specifically, they are instructed to:
- Disconnect outside hoses: People forget about this, but it’s an easy fix. Offer hose covers—usually available for a few cents—at the office, so your tenants can disconnect gardening hoses and cover pipes.
- Wrap pipes: Give tenants instructions to wrap pipes that are likely to freeze, like pipes near exterior walls and in crawl spaces, with heating tape. That tape will protect pipes from freezing and potentially cracking.
- Keep the temperature around 68: Keeping the temperature up inside a home is the best defense against freezing pipes. Remind tenants to leave heaters running constantly even if they’re not going to be at home.
- Provide instructions for fixing a frozen pipe: Really, it’s a matter of applying heat to the pipe. Usually, this can be done with hot towels or a hairdryer. Once the water is unfrozen, it will start flowing again on its own. Catching and fixing a frozen pipe fast limits the damage.
These are good ways to help your tenants protect their pipes through winter in Oregon. I’ve found it goes a long way if you provide the supplies, like hose covers or heating tape. That way, you can concentrate on getting your entire park prepared for cold weather.
The Landlord’s Duties As the Weather Gets Colder
While your tenants are wrapping pipes, you need to make sure your manager is taking care of the park infrastructure. This includes covering a few basic maintenance tasks, as well as getting bids for ongoing work. Some of the things you may want to consider:
- Final pruning: It’s better to cut shrubs and trees when they’re not growing, so planning to cut in fall is a good option. Plus, it will save you a mess of broken branches after winter is over.
- Clear out drainage systems: Make sure that all your drainage systems are clear so they can keep up with the snow and rain.
- Get plowing quotes: You don’t want to wait until a big storm to start getting quotes on plowing, salting and sanding services. Cold weather can lead to slip-and-falls, which set you up for legal problems. Winter is one of those times when Oregon ADA requirements for mobile parks increase, as your likelihood of obstructions to things like wheelchair ramps and fire exits goes up.
- Set up a schedule and buy supplies now: You don’t want to have to do it the day of the storm. The same goes for shovels and salt bins for smaller on-site maintenance.
- Shut down the sprinklers: If you use sprinklers to water your property, then you’ll want to get around to disconnecting or emptying them in mid to late October.
- Consider sealing your asphalt: Winter does a lot of damage to the ground, as water gets into cracks, freezes, thaws and makes the cracks bigger. Sealing the lot will keep small cracks from becoming big potholes come spring.
Taking all these steps will help your park stay protected in winter while minimizing your work come spring. Most of these steps only require a bit of time investment that could save you in the long run. However, there are a few extra safety precautions you can take to prepare for major storms.
Preventive Measures For Bad Weather
Another thing that my management companies like to do prior to winter is to get updated tenant contact information. That means getting any phone number changes, as well as emergency contacts. I make sure to do this in wintertime, so we can get hold of someone if we need to. For example, say a tenant is at work and you think their pipes have burst. If you don’t have updated contact info, that could be a serious delay in mitigating the damage.
When you send out the information on winterizing their homes, also ask tenants to fill out an updated contact form. That way, if winter weather hits, you’ll be able to get hold of them if you need to. It’s the final step to protecting your park in winter.
For some, the idea of managing a mobile home park through another Oregon winter might seem like a winter too much. If you feel like that, I might be able to assist by taking over your park and keeping it running through winter. For more information, give me a call or shoot me an email.