With an average of 1 cm of snow on the ground 53 days of the year, landlords in Windsor and around Essex County need to be on top of snow removal for their properties as soon as the weather gets colder. In Essex County, snow has been known to show up as early as October, although it’s typically November before the snow really starts accumulating on the ground.
According to Ontario residential tenancy law, landlords are 100% responsible for snow removal and other outdoor maintenance on their properties. Even if you have a lease with tenants saying that they are responsible for snow removal, this type of clause is actually illegal and would void any agreement made by the landlord and tenant.
This ruling was upheld in an Ontario Court of Appeal in 2009, in a ruling that stated that unless there was a separate agreement that would compensate the tenant for this task, removing snow and doing other outdoor maintenance must remain the responsibility of the landlord.
The Best Tools and Equipment for Shoveling Snow
Unless you want to hire a Windsor property management company, you’ll likely be doing a decent amount of shoveling snow if you’re a landlord in Windsor. This is easier if you live close to your rental property, or if you only have a small amount of snow to clear.
Here are some of the best tools we’ve found to make shoveling snow and clearing ice much easier.
1. Shovels – lots of shovels
A snow shovel should be at the top of your list once you become a landlord. If you want to save your back, make sure the shovel is well-designed and can last through more than one season of heavy use. Make sure to look for a wide shovel, but not one that’s so big that a full load of snow will hurt your back.
Our favourites are light shovels that have been designed with ergonomics in mind. Some of the best features we’ve seen include a curved shaft to make moving hefty loads easier, and a second handle lower down to make raising and lowering heavy snow safer and more secure. Make sure you’ve stocked up on more than one, in case you have a breakage in the middle of a storm.
If the weather has dropped a mixture of rain and snow, it can freeze and cause dangerously slippery conditions. To break up ice or densely packed snow, consider buying an ice scraper. This tool is made with a thick blade (usually steel or another metal) which attacks and breaks up ice much better than a plastic snow shovel. You may not need it often, but when you do, you’ll be glad you have it.
3. Snow Broom
If you just got a few centimetres of snow and it’s still laying lightly on the ground, you may not need a shovel. In those situations, it’s nice to have a snow broom. Unlike the type of snow broom you’d use for your car, an outdoor snow broom looks a lot like a regular household broom.
Just make sure to pick one with sturdy bristles made of either plastic, or a natural material like straw, hay, or twigs. If you choose a natural broom, make sure to knock all remaining snow off it before it goes back into storage, otherwise it may start to rot.
4. Roof Rake
If you want to safeguard your roof from snow and ice-related damage, make sure you buy a telescoping roof rake. This light but sturdy tool looks like a tall, narrow shovel, and can easily scrape accumulating snow and ice off your roof before it causes an ice dam.
Have a big driveway or multiple houses to cover? You may want to invest in a snowblower. These machines are designed to pull in and toss huge piles of snow out of the way in minutes. It’s a great way to avoid hours and hours of backbreaking shoveling.
Depending on your needs, you can buy a cheaper corded model for under $300, or a more expensive, high-performing gas-powered model for closer to $1,000. Try and make the decision based on your space, rather than budget. Some of the smaller models are better for pathways or anything paved in gravel, while the larger models are more suited to wider paved areas like a parking lot or driveway.
6. Sand or Salt Spreader
Once all the snow is gone, you need to make sure there are no icy patches that could cause falls or other accidents. That’s when it’s helpful to put down sand or salt, which helps inhibit the development of ice and gives shoes something rough to grip on to. If you’re working with a small area, you can throw down sand or salt manually, but to get a nice, even spread over a larger area you need a spreader.
You can buy one that’s made specifically for that purpose, or put your summertime seed spreader to work – it can easily broadcast an even spray of sand or salt.
Don’t Want to Shovel All Winter? You Need a Property Manager
Typically, snow removal, de-icing, and general outdoor maintenance are just some of the tasks that a responsible property manager can take off your plate. If you’re reading this and dreading the first snowfall of the year, you may want to look into hiring a property manager for your Windsor real estate investments.
At Goldmar Property Management, we specialize in taking these responsibilities off your plate, so you can reap the benefits of your investments without worrying about the mundane details. Give us a call today to learn more about the services we offer to Windsor landlords.