Preparing your rentals for an extended vacancy is important any time of year, but if they are going to be left empty for more than a couple of days during the winter months, you should be extra cautious due to freezing weather. Getting things taken care is not difficult, but missing steps can create serious problems later.
Unplug all unnecessary electrical devices. There probably aren’t toasters, computers, TVs, tablets and clocks, but anything plugged in can draw power and ad to the electric bill and creating a small risk of fire. Nevertheless, leave the refrigerator on and, for security, consider using timers on a light or two. Turn off and unplug everything else.
Have the moving tenants clean out the refrigerator, freezer, sink traps and garbage disposal to minimize the creation of offensive odors from rotting bits of food. If they don’t, then you can charge them for failing to do so.
Turn down the heat. When no one is in the house, a setting of around 50 degrees is sufficient to keep the pipes from bursting. You can always turn it up a bit if you are going to be showing the apartment to people later that day.
If you are concerned, you can turn off the water supply to your home and open all faucets to drain them. Leave one faucet open on the lowest level of the house to allow air and excess water to drain.
Lower the water temperature on your water heater to save money while it is vacant.
Talk to your neighbors. Ask them to keep an eye out for suspicious activity. Ensure that your neighbor has your contact information and basic knowledge of the house.