Don’t get snowed under by escalating winter maintenance issues with these simple seasonal solutions from the experts at Belvoir…
1. Vital visit
“For many rental properties falling temperatures can equal growing maintenance issues so it’s advisable to visit yours in order to assess the potential problem zones before winter takes hold,” says owner of Belvoir Tamworth Angie Allgood.
“Undiscovered maintenance issues throughout the winter months can quickly lead to expensive bills and extensive damage so it’s vital to know what needs ‘winter-proofing’ both inside and out. Arrange an inspection now – and, if possible, ask your tenant to be there too so they can give you feedback and pass on any information about existing issues which may escalate during the snowy season.”
2. The heat is on!
“Make sure your property is kept warm on cold days by ensuring your central heating system is in good working order and fully functional,” says owner of Belvoir Birmingham Central Major Mahil. “As winter approaches it’s important to try it out so that problems can be identified and rectified as soon as possible and long before the cold snap results in lengthy response times from contractors who are ‘snowed under’ with other emergency call outs.
“In addition, ensure your tenant is fully aware of how to use your central heating system correctly and is familiar with the operating instructions, plus try to time your annual boiler service to coincide with the beginning of winter too.”
3. Tile trouble
“Loose or missing roof tiles can cause a surprising amount of damage to a property at speed during winter so make sure yours are secure,” says Angie. “High winds and heavy rainfalls can dislodge tiles that are already deteriorating leaving your roof-space vulnerable to leaks.
“Visit your property in the daylight (ideally when it’s raining if you can) in order to assess your roof from both inside the property and out. Do the tiles appear to be in alignment when you look up at the property? Can you see cracks of daylight from inside the loft-space? Is there any brown staining on bedroom ceilings or evidence of mould or damp? If you suspect you may be having tile trouble organise for them to be repaired or replaced as soon as you can.”
4. Guttering guidance
“Issues with guttering, downpipes and storm drains can quickly drain your bank account,” says Major. “Leaves, debris and moss which have collected in your guttering and drains over the Autumn can quickly lead to blockages once the heavy rain starts to fall. Ensure your guttering and drains are debris-free to prevent the overflow of rainwater which can extensively damage the fabric of a building at speed.
“Check for cracks and leaks too, plus ensure that guttering is securely connected and correctly aligned to the downpipe to prevent further issues.”
5. Air advice
“Is your property suffering from condensation issues?” asks Angie. “If so, take steps to rectify them now!
“When the hot air of the interior meets the cool air of the outdoors during the winter months it releases moisture and creates condensation which can cause significant problems for a property if left.
“Damp walls and clouded windows are both warning signs that a property may have condensation issues so look out for these, along with peeling paintwork, mildew and staining to the walls and ceilings.
“Poor ventilation can contribute to the problem so ensure that the bathroom extractor fan is fully functional, ventilation Air Bricks are unclogged and free from debris, the property is not overcrowded with clutter and that your tenant is briefed on how to keep air flowing through the building, such as briefly opening the windows on a daily basis.
“If the problem is severe it is advisable to consult a builder or damp professional on the next steps to take.”
6. Insulation initiative
“Good insulation is a landlord’s friend during the long cold winter so make sure yours is adequate,” says Major. “Loft and cavity wall insulation can help a property retain heat, plus all pipes should be lagged to help protect them from the sudden drop in temperature.
“Pay particular attention to any pipes that run through the roof-space above the loft insulation as these will be particular vulnerable. Plus, think about your condensate pipe too. Insufficient lagging and insulation can also leave that at risk of freezing.”
7. Outdoors assessment
“Is your garden ready for winter?” asks Angie. “Often overlooked by landlords, a property’s outside space is also susceptible to damage from strong winds, heavy rainfall and freezing temperatures.
“Is your drainage adequate? Are your fence panels and trellising currently intact and secure? Is there any deterioration to pointing in boundary walls? Does your outside tap have an isolator fitted to the stopcock so it can be switched off with ease? Ask yourself these questions and act on your answers.”
8. Vacant possession
“Empty properties can equal problem properties during winter so if yours is currently vacant make sure it is visited regularly by you or your agent to ensure all is well,” says Major. “Frozen pipes, for example, which are left undiscovered in an empty home can cause major flooding issues on thawing if they have cracked. Look out for leaking windows, damp patches and mildew build-up too.
“If your property is tenanted but your tenant is planning to be away, it is important to remind them how to best protect the property, perhaps by setting the timer on the heating, leaving the loft hatch open to help heat circulate to the pipes above and maybe turning off the water supply if intending to be away for some time. You may also want to seek their permission for you to visit the property in their absence.”
9. Critical condition
“What would you do if there was an emergency at the property?” asks Angie. “It’s important to pre-plan a course of action for potential winter emergency situations so you know who to call and what you should do if the worst was to happen. Have contact details for reliable contractors at hand for easy access and brief your tenant on the steps they should take in informing you if a critical situation were to arise.”
10. React and act!
“The quicker you act on maintenance issues the simpler the solutions,” says Major. “It may be tempting to ignore a problem in the hope that it’ll sort itself out once the sun comes out again but sadly this is rarely the case.
“Always be proactive in your winter maintenance assessments and actions in order to prevent escalating issues, substantial damage… and the large price tags that are likely to accompany them!”
Article Courtesy of: Belvoir Lettings