Winter guide for landlords

Top tips to protect your property from winter perils

With the balmy summer of 2018 behind us, like it or not winter is just around the corner. Even the longest heatwave in decades does not preclude a frosty finale to the year. Winter 2017 saw heavy snow and ice, with widespread travel disruption, school closures and weather warnings across the UK. We could well have another relentless winter in store, so it is worth preparing your property for winter now.

But where should you begin? Hamilton Fraser has put together some top tips to protect your property from winter perils. Follow our advice to ensure that you are doing all you can to minimise the chances of damage to your rental property during the colder months.

 

1.Priority winter maintenance jobs for landlords

Clear the gutters

This is definitely a job to get out of the way before winter arrives in earnest as gutters are more likely to come loose if they get full of frozen water. Check gutters, overflow pipes and drainpipes for damage and blockages due to fallen leaves.

Blocked or damaged gutters and pipes could lead to severe water damage to the roof or walls of your property, which may result in a big insurance claim and potentially a loss of rental income.

Check the roof

Strong winter winds can have a detrimental effect to the roof, exposing loose tiles and cladding and even leading to leaks on floors below which can cause extensive damage to a property. Look out for shards of tile or grit in the gutters and on the floor. However, if tiles need replacing it is best to get a professional in.

Service the boiler

Winter guide for landlordsYou’ll regret it if you fail to service the boiler and suffer a breakdown during a cold spell. A boiler service is cheaper in the long run than calling out a busy engineer for an urgent repair.

A functioning boiler will help to keep the pipes warm and your tenants happy.

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Avoid frozen pipes

Winter guide for landlords | Frozen outdoor water faucet covered in ice

The biggest winter peril to your property is escape of water caused by a burst pipe. But there are some simple steps you can take to prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting. Check the pipes for any cracks and ensure that there is plenty of lagging around them. For any pipes that run outside the property it is a good idea to ensure that the water flow is off and the tap is run dry before the temperature hits zero.

Keep the heating on

It is a good idea to keep the heating on low if you or your tenants are going to be away from the property. This will help to avoid frozen pipes.

Check the insulation

As well as keeping out the cold weather, adequate insulation also helps reduce the amount of heating needed by your tenants, reducing energy consumption.

Avoid damp and mould

winter guide for landlords | window in home with condensation

Condensation can be a particular problem in winter when warm air generated in a property from everyday activities meets cooler surfaces. Unless the property is properly ventilated, this build-up of moisture can lead to mould growth. Damp and mould are detrimental to your tenant’s health and can cause long-term problems for your property. Ensure that extractor fans in kitchens and bathrooms are working and encourage your tenants to open windows.

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2. Protect your property from burglary

Homes remaining in darkness for longer in the evenings puts them at greater risk from burglary. Keep your rental home safe by taking the following steps:

Protect valuables

Encourage tenants to always keep valuables out of sight from windows and store keys away from the letterbox. Help police identify property by using a property marking kit and taking photos.

Safeguard the property

Make sure tenants lock all windows and double lock doors whenever they go out. Take steps to make the property look occupied by using timer lights. Make sure the locks are strong enough.

Secure your outside

Winter guide for landlords | Man locking padlock on a shed outside homeKeep gates, sheds and garages locked and don’t leave tools lying around as they can be used to break in.

Keep hedges at the front low and install outdoor lighting, so burglars have nowhere to hide.

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3.Help your tenants to protect your property from winter perils

As the landlord it is your responsibility to maintain your rental property. But well-informed tenants can help you protect your property against the perils posed by winter.

  • Check tenants know the location of the stopcock so that they can turn the water supply off in the event of an emergency such as burst pipes.
  • Make sure tenants know how the boiler and thermostat work. Advise them to leave the heating on low if they are going away or to set a timer so that the heating continues to come on regularly.
  • Encourage tenants to ensure adequate ventilation by opening windows and using extractor fans to reduce condensation.
  • Encourage tenants to report any leaks – small issues can quickly escalate into big and expensive problems.
  • Suggest that your tenants use lighting timers during the dark winter days and particularly if they are going to be absent from the property.
  • Provide tenants with a list of helpful contact numbers, in case of an emergency.
  • Why not use this checklist to put together your own bespoke information pack for your tenants?

 

4.Ensure you have landlord insurance

Landlord insurance protects you, your property and your tenants. A standard home insurance policy isn’t designed for rental properties so it is vital to ensure that you have the right insurance cover in place if you are letting out your property.

With average claims costs for escape of water coming in at £1,154.25, storm or flood at £822.26 and break-in at £728.43, getting the right cover today will ensure you are not out of pocket tomorrow. And with 80% of claims handled by our dedicated in-house team, we are able to offer a ‘Same Name Claim Handler’ service, providing customers with a dedicated adviser every time they call.

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