As temperatures start to drop, landlords need to consider what effects the cold snaps and rain will have on their properties and tenants, including what can be done to help prepare for this.
Having a yearly inspection routine during autumn and a checklist of common issues that can be expected during winter is one of the proactive steps we recommend to landlords. Pay close attention to the condition of roofing to avoid any leaks. Blocked gutters can also be dangerous – they can overflow and. If left untreated, could lead to water seeping into brickwork and causing damp, so make sure you clear the gutters before winter. Insulation is also very important! Adequately insulated property will make your home warmer and can even lower the energy bills. Finally things like broken tiles are also worth replacing, as this will protect against serve windy weather.
What you should look for:
• Are all pipes and tanks in the loft adequately insulated? Its worth checking that insulation 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 – its 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?
What your tenants can do to help:
• Are your tenants planning to be away? If so, ensure that they leave the heating on low or set timers.
• 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.
If damage is discovered at the property steps to take are:
• 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.
Even with adequate preparations and precautions taken in the lead up to winter, unexpected weather still has the potential to cause severe damage to your properties. A comprehensive landlord insurance policy will help you with peace of mind should the worst happen.