Just as we begin to add extra padding to our clothing and stock up on additional supplies in anticipation for the seasonal change, so should landlords apply the same precautions for their properties. With cold temperatures setting in at the first sign of winter, here’s how landlords can prepare for any risks to ensure a safe and well-maintained property this time of year.
A couple of months before a noticeable drop in temperature, landlords should make sure their properties are weather-proof to cope with extreme gales and freezing conditions; as tenants may take this opportunity to look for alternative accommodation should their existing property not be up to scratch. Paying for heating if such a utility isn’t included in their bills could also force a tenant to consider their current living circumstances.
One issue landlords should pay close attention to is guttering – as rain, falling leaves and wind can cause severe gutter problems such as overflowing. Excess water can seep into stone and brickwork, resulting in severe damage which ultimately leads to many a house’s worst nightmare; damp. Regular checks for problems including blockages can also be a good preventative measure, as this decreases the chance of flooding or possible plant damage (i.e. moss growth within cracks).
If your property has a garden, bear in mind vegetation such as trees. Should it be a particularly strong storm, you don’t want to risk the possibility of a falling branch endangering both your tenants and your property. Additionally, the aftermath of strewn branches can become a visual nuisance; so be sure to look out for any potential external threats.
It’s highly recommended that your loft is properly insulated, as it helps save on energy bills as well as retain heat; and also remember to eliminate any draughts – because whilst your property may be sufficiently insulated, this will be rendered pointless if heat escapes through channels such as a loosely fitted window or a cracked door.
Lastly, by ensuring the property is insulated and warm, minimises the likelihood of instances such as burst water pipes and cold accommodation. By maintaining a well-kept home, not only will this reduce the need for repairs and costly bills, but will also increase the longevity of your property – as well as the longevity of your current tenancy.
Here is our check list for landlords
- Are all pipes and tanks in the loft adequately insulated? It’s worth checking that this has not been moved or dislodged by tenants.
- Are all overflow pipes correctly connected and not blocked?
- Are gutters and downpipes clean and free from cracks or splits?
- Are drain gratings clear of leaves and debris?
- Is any external pipework lagged, including outside taps which should either be turned off internally if possible and drained down, or fitted with an insulated jacket?
- Are there any cracked or missing roof tiles – it’s worth getting these replaced now.
- Is your property unoccupied? If so have you complied with any special terms and conditions that may apply such as regular inspections or draining down of services?
Don’t forget it is also worth speaking to your tenants so they can help protect your property too.
Here is some advice to give your tenants:
- Are your tenants planning to be away? If so, ensure that they leave the heating on low.
- Whether at home or not, doors between heated and unheated parts of the property should be left open to allow warm air to move around the property. In really cold spells this could include leaving the loft hatch open to allow warm air to circulate reducing the risk of frozen pipes in the loft.
- Do they know where the stopcock or isolation valves are located in case they have to turn off the water to any part of the property?
- Can your tenant contact you in an emergency? If not, you might consider providing them with the number of a reputable contractor who could respond quickly and undertake emergency repairs to prevent further damage.
However, if you do discover damage this winter here are some simple steps you should follow:
- With burst pipes you should use towels or blankets to try to stem leaks while you turn off the water at the stopcock or mains.
- Turning on taps to drain the water from the system faster.
- Turn off the source for hot water and central heating.
- Arrange for emergency repairs to be undertaken as quickly as possible in order to prevent further damage or inconvenience for your tenants. Whether you are insured or not you should arrange and pay for emergency repairs and retain your paid invoices as you may be able to reclaim the cost later.
- Contact your insurers as quickly as possible to report your claim.
Stay smart this winter by speaking to the professionals at Total Landlord Insurance and enjoy a well-kept property that lasts all winter long.
Article Supplied by – Total Landlord Insurance