As a landlord, keeping your tenants and your property safe and secure should be your top priority.
While property security is incredibly important all year round, the cover of winter darkness and icy winter weather presents a greater challenge for landlords and their tenants.
Earlier in the year, Hamilton Fraser Total Landlord Insurance’s 10 years of claims report found that insurance claims are more likely to occur during the winter months than in summer. The rise in the number of claims during this time of year is partly due to the harsher weather, and also the increased cover of darkness that helps to embolden opportunistic criminals.
Luckily, there are a number of precautions that you can take as a landlord to secure your property, and provide peace of mind for both you and your tenants this winter.
Winter weather conditions
Weather conditions that accompany the winter season bring an increased risk of damage to your property. Snow, ice and damp weather can cause problems for unprepared or poorly maintained properties. Understanding and preparing for issues caused by severe weather can help to prevent unwanted damages and costs further down the line.
While the UK may not face as severe winter weather as some other countries, the UK is no stranger to certain severe weather events. Without adequate preparation, severe weather such as storms, flooding and snow, can cause major problems for your property and your tenants. Hamilton Fraser Total Landlord Insurance report that 15.5 per cent of all claims reported between January 2014 and January 2019 were for storm damage.
Property damage resulting from severe winter weather could include broken roof tiles, falling trees, extensive flooding, collapsed fencing and frozen and burst pipes, all of which could cost a small fortune to rectify.
It is therefore extremely important to understand the precautions you can take to secure your property; they don’t have to cost the earth. Some simple precautions include:
- Clearing your gutters of debris that could cause a blockage
- Inspecting the roof condition at regular intervals throughout the year
- Making sure that low hanging or loose tree branches are cut back to avoid property damage if they are dislodged during high winds
- If a storm is on the horizon advise tenants to secure outdoor furniture or pack away loose garden equipment
You can read more about how to protect your property from severe winter weather.
Broken boilers – a common winter issue
It is not just your property structure that may be at risk from the winter weather. After a period of warmer weather during spring and summer, many homes face boiler issues when it is finally time to turn them back on. A cold, icy property is neither pleasant nor terribly safe for your tenants.
Preparing your boiler for winter doesn’t have to be difficult; you can check your boiler health by:
- Carrying out a regular boiler inspection (both formal inspections from a professional once a year and an informal inspection yourself to look for any warning signs)
- Look for cracks and signs of leaks
- Check the pressure gauge
- Check and bleed your radiators
- Insulate your pipes
Rise in break-ins
Break-ins spike every year around December through to January, according to Hamilton Fraser Total Landlord Insurance’s 10 years of claims report. Most often this is caused by opportunistic thieves who can use the cover of darkness to their advantage when breaking into your property.
In addition, the allure of presents under the Christmas tree, or those left on the doorstep by the postman, can signal a potential bounty for a burglar that is hard to resist. Luckily there are a number of steps landlords can take and share with their tenants, in order to reduce the risk of their property being targeted this Christmas.
- Invest in good quality doors and windows with secure locks and fittings to make it harder for thieves to gain access
- Consider using frosted reinforced glass – not only is this more difficult to break but also limits visibility into the property
- Make sure all property entry points are covered by the same level of security
- Advise tenants to keep their valuables out of sight
- Invest in motion triggered lighting outside your property – nothing acts as more of a deterrent for a burglar than being illuminated in the act!
- If you have a driveway, consider using pebbles or gravel, which can help to signal when someone is approaching the property
- If you have a garden make sure that tools and equipment are securely stored out of sight, or they could be used to break into your property
- Consider installing a security system
- Ask tenants to advise you if they are going away over the festive period so that someone you trust can keep an eye on the property and collect any post
Keeping your tenants in the loop
Maintaining a good relationship with your tenants is a great way to make sure that your property remains safe and secure over the winter period. As a landlord it is incredibly important to ensure that you have a positive relationship with your tenants as they are your property’s eyes and ears. Having a good relationship means tenants will be more likely to approach you promptly if they notice an issue with the property, such as one caused by severe weather, enabling you to address the problem before it escalates. . In addition, being open with your tenants and sharing the above tips can help to prevent the property falling foul to break-ins and burglary during the darker winter months, as well as year round.
Despite taking precautions to protect your property, unfortunately problems can still occur that cause not only damage but also security issues. While tenants are responsible for protecting their own possessions, with their own contents insurance, it is important that landlords make sure they adequately protect their own contents and building. As a landlord, having a comprehensive landlord insurance policy, such as that provided by Hamilton Fraser Total Landlord Insurance’s, can also help to cover you for the added risks that accompany a buy to let property, helping to keep your property safe not just over the winter period but all year round. Find out more about how a comprehensive landlord insurance policy could help keep your property safe and secure.