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Keep Those Gutters Flowing

One of the ways to increase the profitability of rental properties is to keep your costs down. Often this means not doing things on rental houses that you would do on your own home. This is usually seen in the difference in rehab estimates between preparing a property for rental as opposed to sale to an owner occupant. Of course, this is understandable as renters are not quite as particular about some of the details since many do not look at the rental situation as long term and buyers usually have the mindset of staying put for a while.

As property owners, most of us would like to have the tenants look at their stay as a longer term situation as well. While new tenants present the opportunity to bump the rent up – in most markets – they also lead to gaps in rental income as well as clean up, paint up and fix up costs. On balance, it is generally better to have longer term tenants than to have frequent turnover.

An evidence of the shorter term thinking of tenants is the way the property is maintained. Usually they are not quite as conscientious as the home owning counterparts. Most don't trash the place but neither do they go out and perform periodic maintenance around the house.

One of the neglected tasks is keeping the gutters free from leaves. It is not necessarily a bad thing if Joe Tenant does not get up on a ladder to scoop out the leaves. You can't fall off a ladder if you don't get up on a ladder. Falling off a ladder is one way to hinder Joe Tenant's quiet enjoyment of the property and most assuredly some litigation happy shyster lawyer will find some way to put the financial blame on the property owner. This is particularly bad if that property owner happens to be me.

Injured tenants are not the only bad things that come about from unmaintained gutters. They can overflow and direct the water into roofing supports. rotting the wood that keeps the tenant and your property protected from the rain, wind, sleet and hail. Although here in the Tampa Bay area of Florida, sleet and hale are not major concerns – but rain is.

All this can be avoided with some sort of cover or screen over the gutters. You do have gutters, don't you? They protect the foundation and landscaping, help keep water from penetrating gaps on the siding, and direct water away from sidewalks and driveways. This last item is especially important in the frozen north where the rain can freeze and give the tenants an additional opportunity to fall and hit the jackpot with the help of the aforementioned shyster lawyer.

Trees are great to have on your property. They are nice to look at while they provide shade... and leaves that clog your gutters. There are many approaches to keeping these leaves out of the gutters and downspouts. Just as there is a variety of methods there is a corresponding variety of prices – ranging from simple styrofoam wedges to sophisticated held in place with screws. Let's look at a few of them.

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These units are made of premium domestic aluminum and come in a variety of colors although they cannot be seen from the ground. They are held in place by stainless steel fasteners to help them stand up to the tropical storms we are too familiar with. They are easy to install and feature contractor pricing.

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Easier to install, these covers simply snap into place – and just as easily snap out for maintenance. They are made of heavy-duty expanded aluminum that won't rust or rot. The tight mesh keep out debris but very small pieces like pine needles may pass through. The spring tensions keep them in place through most of what mother nature can dish out. Oh yes, they are also made in the USA.

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Then there is the ultimate in simplicity in keeping the gunk from clogging your gutters. This style foam wedge slides into place and seals out leaves and debris while permitting water to flows smoothly. Like the others this cannot be seen from the ground as it sets down in the gutter. It is about the simplest and easiest way to get the job done.

Whichever way you go, keeping the gutters working without periodically paying your handyman to do the job or risking the neck of a rent paying tenant is a worthwhile project. For me, I chose the spring loaded covers as a good combination of quick installation, function and expected life span. You may make another choice. That is why we have so many choices in the land of the free.

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