Property maintenance tips for all seasons

Our guide, ‘Property maintenance tips for all seasons,’ is a comprehensive checklist designed to help landlords carry out key maintenance checks all year round. Burst pipes, blocked drains and boilers on the blink can all result in significant inconvenience to tenants and expensive repair bills, but a little time and effort spent on prevention each season can save time, and money while promoting a good relationship with your tenant in the long run.

Winter

Whilst it is basic common sense to carry out most maintenance work before the temperature starts to drop, some jobs are best tackled in winter…

1. Trim your trees

With the leaves gone, you can assess whether trees or shrubs surrounding the property could do with pruning. If there are branches that are looking unsteady and might pose a health and safety hazard, it is better to cut them back now in a controlled way than have them come down in bad weather. Before carrying out any work it is also worth checking whether the tree is subject to a tree preservation order, particularly if the property is located in a conservation area.

2. Boost insulation

Draught proofing is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to insulate and save energy; check for any gaps in windows and doors and use sealant to help keep the cold weather out and moisture levels down. A quarter of the heat from a property is lost through an uninsulated roof, so don’t forget to check the loft. Heat will always flow from warm areas to cooler ones so make sure your tenants encourage the circulation of heat around the property. They will appreciate the reduction in heating costs, and you will be helping to protect your property from condensation and damp.

3. Lag water tanks and pipes

Lagging water tanks and pipes reduces the amount of heat lost, so it costs less to heat water and hot water stays hotter for longer. Lagging pipes also helps stop them freezing and bursting when the temperature drops. Hot water cylinder jackets, pipe insulation and radiator reflector panels on external walls are all low cost, easy to install and will reduce the escape of heat.

4. Communicate with your tenants

Offering your tenants helpful advice on how to stay safe and warm can strengthen your relationship and help ensure your tenants are taking care of themselves and your property. Ask tenants if there is anything they are having problems with – any drafts or dripping taps for example. Even a trickle of water could freeze and block pipes.

If you have vulnerable tenants (elderly, disabled or those on low incomes worried about fuel bills), it is worth taking extra precautions to ensure they are prepared. Elderly people born on or before 5th July 1953 are entitled to tax free benefits to assist with heating bills. You should also maintain a good relationship with neighbours who can help keep an eye out for vulnerable tenants during the winter months.

5. Add some salt

Snow and ice increase the likelihood of slips and falls on the paths and steps outside a property. As long as there is nothing wrong with the property that has caused things to freeze, tenants are responsible for keeping paths clear. But as a responsible landlord, it would be helpful to provide your tenants with some salt or grit and a shovel to keep them from slipping.

Spring

As winter recedes and spring emerges in its place, it is time to check for and rectify any damage left behind.

1. Turn on the taps

If you have outdoor taps, turn them on to see how much water is coming out. If it is very little, there is a chance that the pipes could have been damaged during the cold weather.

2. Inspect the wood

Warmer weather after the onslaught of winter provides perfect conditions for wood rot. If there are areas of the property where protective paint has come away, look for rotting wood and get any affected areas seen to before they deteriorate further.

3. Bolster your fence

If the fence has taken a battering during winter, get it summer ready now by carrying out repairs.

4. Watch the cracks

It is not just the roads that suffer damage in cold weather. Have a look around your rental property’s patio and driveway to see if there are any cracks. Minor ones could be easy to fix yourself, preventing them from turning into unsightly crevices which might present a trip hazard to your tenants.

5. Clear foundation vents

Vents around the property could have collected debris over winter, limiting much needed ventilation below your property’s floor. Without this airflow, you are more likely to experience wood rot problems. Get rid of any leaves, twigs or rubbish, either by hand or with a vacuum.

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Summer

Far from being a time when you can sit back and enjoy the sunshine, summer brings its own challenges as well as an opportunity to take advantage of warmer, drier conditions to carry out routine maintenance work.

1. Bleed the radiators

Trapped air bubbles reduce the efficiency of your heating system and can also lead to damp spots. Bleeding the radiators when they are unlikely to be in use can get rid of these air bubbles, so they are ready to fire on all cylinders come winter.

2. Clear drains

It often takes a drain stuffed with dead leaves to spur a clear out. But how many times do you see them becoming overwhelmed in the midst of a summer downpour? Give the drains on your rental property the best chance to do their job by seeing to them all year round.

3. Get your boiler serviced

Avoid the desperate phone call from your tenants informing you their boiler has gone on the blink four months down the line by getting a qualified engineer to service it in plenty of time. Doing this in summer means that if there is a problem, it can be fixed well in time for the winter.

4. Get painting

Exterior paint does not just improve a property’s kerb appeal if you are between tenants, but it also protects window frames and doors. Spells of warm, dry weather are the best time to do this as allowing the paint to bond to wood that is not damp will make the finish more durable.

5. Deter burglars

Opportunistic burglars are likely to take advantage of open doors and windows in the summer, so encourage your tenant to be vigilant and take measures to ensure the property is secure.

Explain to your tenants the importance of securing the property when they go out, including locking all windows and doors and placing valuables out of direct sight. Fitting a burglar alarm is also a deterrent.

6. Deal with summer pests

The summer heat brings pests out of hibernation, which could cause major problems for your tenants.

Wasps and bees have a tendency to make nests in guttering, loft spaces and the roof, so it is a good idea to monitor your property for any pest activity before it takes hold. You could invest in protective covers for air bricks and any exposed sidings on your property. It may seem like just another expense but could cost you less in the long run should you need to pay out for pest removal.

Pests are encouraged by exposed rubbish that has been left out in the sun so it is important to advise your tenants against doing this and provide sealed bins to prevent overflowing rubbish that could encourage rats and mice.

Autumn

Autumn is your last chance to make sure your property is in tip top condition for the cold and wet months ahead. With the weather still mild, this is an opportunity to carry out some regular maintenance jobs in order to winterproof your property.

1. Wrap up the summer

Cover or store untreated wooden furniture you don’t want to see damaged and fold away the hosepipe, being sure to empty it of any residual water. If you have any delicate plants, now is the time to bring them indoors before they are damaged by the first frost. Clear any fallen leaves and other debris and don’t forget to plant bulbs for a spring display next year!

2. Check outdoor lights

Thanks to the clock change, long nights are swiftly dropped on us, which can be a shock to the system. Make the evenings easier for your tenants when they are trying to find their house keys in the dark by replacing any bulbs that have gone from outdoor lights.

3. Clear your gutters

This is a job best left to late autumn when the majority of leaves have been shed but before it gets so cold that water will freeze in the gutters, causing them to pull away from the building or bursting your pipes. Icicles may be pretty, but they are also potentially dangerous.

4. Take a look at your roof

While you are up there, see if you notice any slipped or broken tiles, weathered flashing or cracked caulking. It will be easier to get someone in to fix any problems now than a couple of months down the line when daylight and fair weather are in short supply.

5. Seal the cracks

Take a look around the exterior of the property to check for cracks, and pay special attention to where pipes or cables meet the brickwork. It will be easier to fill these before the weather turns and the nights close in, by which point rainwater could already be causing damp issues indoors.

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