We may have avoided the April showers this year, but May is more than making up for it. Many parts of the UK have already seen in excess of double their normal rainfall for the whole month as torrential rain has swept across the country. In the short term at least, the weather is stuck in an unsettled, turbulent pattern.
With more drenching downpours and thunderstorms forecast this week, the Government has issued a number of flood alerts and the Met Office has weather warnings in force for strong winds in the south and south west of England on Thursday and Friday.
Steve Barnes (pictured), Associate Director at Hamilton Fraser Total Landlord Insurance, is urging landlords to be prepared:
“During periods of unsettled weather like we are experiencing at the moment, with water levels already very high and more rainfall forecast, as well as strong winds, preparation is everything. If you take the right preventative measures and have comprehensive landlord insurance in place, you can be confident that you’re doing all you can to protect your tenants and your business. It’s also really important to communicate with your tenants.
Ask them to alert you to any repairs that might put your property at greater risk of damage, and make sure they know what to do if your property is affected by flooding or storm damage. Landlords with high-risk properties should prioritise investing in home improvements as well as increasing their insurance protection.”
Prepare for flooding by planning ahead
With river levels having risen in parts of the UK, such as on the River Wey, as a result of sustained heavy rainfall, flash floods are possible in certain areas. According to the most recent CCRA report, an estimated 1.8 million people are living in areas of the UK that are at significant risk of coastal, surface or river flooding.
But it’s important to realise that it’s not just properties in riverside or coastal areas that are susceptible to flooding.
Severe flooding can happen without warning as heavy rain, particularly on already saturated ground, can lead to rising groundwater causing burst water mains and backed-up sewers, resulting in surface water that could have a devastating impact almost anywhere, making properties completely uninhabitable and leading to serious repercussions for landlords and tenants.
Last year the Environment Agency launched a campaign to highlight the impact of flood damage on mental health, advising people of the importance of signing up to flood alerts. Low income households are amongst the most at risk of flooding and 61% of low-income renters don’t have home contents insurance.
It’s important as a landlord that you do all you can to protect both your property and your tenants, by taking the following steps:
Although floods can happen anywhere, it’s worth finding out if you’re at high risk. This should be your first step. Enter your postcode to find out if you’re in an area at risk from flooding
- Forewarned is forearmed – make sure you sign up for flood warnings. These will warn you of the risk of flooding from rivers, the sea and groundwater. You’ll be alerted by phone, email or text when flooding is expected
- Prepare your tenants – provide all tenants in at-risk areas with a decent supply of sandbags and make sure tenants always inform you if repairs are needed so that you can minimise the risk of damage in severe weather. In the event of a flood, make sure your tenants know what to do – for example, how to turn off the gas, electricity and water
- If your property is in a high risk area, it is worth taking extra precautions to minimise flood damage:
- Raising the height of electrical sockets on the ground floor and raising electrical goods above the floor on high shelves or wall mounts
- Replacing wooden window frames with more durable UPVC
- Waterproofing the doors and skirting boards, as when wood gets wet it can rot
- Fitting waterproof ceramic or stone flooring rather than wooden boards and carpets
- Sealing around external doors and windows
- Check your insurance – make sure your landlord buildings and contents insurance includes flood damage and make sure your tenant knows that it’s their responsibility to protect their belongings with their own contents insurance
Find out more in Hamilton Fraser Total Landlord Insurance’s comprehensive guide, Measures that must be taken to prevent flooding in your properties.
Prepare for strong winds
With strong winds forecast in some areas as well as more heavy rain, landlords should also be making sure their properties are protected from storms. The most common hazards associated with storms are roof tiles cracking, trees falling, flooding and fences collapsing. Over the past five years, 71% of Hamilton Fraser Total Landlord Insurance’s storm claims have been for roof damage, with an average claim of £1,154, typically as a result of high winds causing tiles to fall off the roof.
If you’re unable to access your property yourself, you should contact your tenant to check that everything is in order and secure. Here are some tips to help you prepare your property to limit the impact:
- Check loose roof tiles and guttering
- Secure loose objects such as ladders, garden furniture, plant pots, children’s toys or anything else that could be blown into windows or cause other damage in high winds
- Store lawnmowers and other electrical garden items away to prevent them from getting damaged
- Reinforce windows if a very severe storm is predicted – plywood is a cost-effective way to do this
- Make sure tenants close and securely fasten all windows and doors
You can find out more in Hamilton Fraser Total Landlord Insurance’s guide, Protecting your rental property from storms.
With this unsettled weather set to continue over the next few days, landlords should make sure they keep an eye on the weather so that they can assess their level of risk and be sure to check in with their tenants. Taking emergency preventative measures will reduce the risk of damage to your property, as well as helping protect your tenants and passers-by, for example in the event of a roof tile coming loose, falling off your property and causing damage or injury.
As a valued LandlordZONE reader you’re entitled to 20% off Hamilton Fraser Total Landlord Insurance’s policies, call the team today on 0800 63 43 880 quoting code LZ2021 or get a quote online in under 4 minutes.