How do I... get my rented property ready for winter?
It’s that time of year again when you need to make your property checks before winter sets in. And with the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act now in force, it’s more important than ever that you do all you can to make sure your tenants’ home stays safe, secure and warm during the colder and wetter months.
Eight key steps you should take now
1. Make sure the property is wind and watertight, checking for:
- Missing tiles or flashing on the roof
- Cracks in brickwork, mortar or render
- Loose or broken guttering
- Cracked or broken window panes
- Degraded door and window seals
- Damaged door and window frames
2. Get a maintenance contractor to clear debris from guttering and drains
3. Check that any fencing is in good order and well secured
4. Make sure the heating is working well. Have the radiators bled and check that the boiler and thermostats are all working properly
5. Have a plumber check that the pipework is in good order and properly insulated. If water in the pipes freezes, it can crack the pipes and then you’ll have leaks when it defrosts. If that water then gets into the electrical system, it can also present a fire risk
6. Make sure the electrics are in good order. With coronavirus restrictions meaning lots of people are currently working from home, there are likely to be more appliances and pieces of technology plugged in. Make sure there are enough sockets and have an electrician check the electrical system can handle the demand. It’s also a good idea to have an annual PAT test in October or November to make sure all your electrical appliances are safe
7. If the property has a working fire or log burner, have the chimney swept and check any flues are in good working order
8. Remind your tenants:
- Not to let the property get too cold, to protect the pipework. Most modern heating systems have a ‘frost’ or ‘cold’ setting that means it kicks in below certain temperatures, so make sure your tenants know how to use it
- To wipe up any condensation that forms on and around windows. It’s common in winter when there is a big difference between the temperature inside and outside, and you want to avoid surface mould forming
- Not to overload extension cables and keep any electric heaters well away from curtains and furnishings
- Where the stop cock is, in case of a burst pipe or other kind of water leak
- Where the fuse board is, in case of a water leak or electrical problem
- What numbers to call if there’s an emergency
Lastly, check your insurance policy for the kind of things that are more likely to lead to claims over winter:
- What are your maintenance obligations, e.g. for external drainage systems and protecting water pipes?
- Are you covered for fire & flood?
- If damage to the property results in tenants having to be re-housed, are those costs covered?
For a new quote or if you have any questions about landlord insurance, you can request a callback from one of our experts via the website.