Now that Summer is over and kids are back to school, it’s time to start preparing for the festive season. If you own rental properties, there are a few more things you might also need to prepare for.
Winter is the season that many landlords dread the most. It is the season of leaking roofs, burst pipes and potentially expensive boiler problems. Also, tradesperson tends to put their prices up around the festive period, because nobody wants to be out and about and working on Christmas. So, if you have an emergency at your rental property on Christmas Day, the prices will be undesirable.
Therefore, preparing your rental property for winter is an important part of your year, as you can often deal with issues before they become serious problems.
Although not every issue requires urgent action, issues like a burst pipe or broken-down boiler will need to be dealt with more promptly, especially when there are vulnerable people living in the property. Plus, providing a fix as soon as possible can prevent further issues, which can save cost in the long run.
How to avoid common winter problems in rental properties
Draught proof doors and windows
It may sound straightforward but sometimes landlords forget about insulation. If the property has any old and draughty ill-fitting windows and doors, you should consider replacing them. This will increase the security of the property as well. It’s a good idea to draught-proof all existing external doors and windows, but remember open-flue gas appliances need an airflow, which should be underfloor.
Stopcock and gas cut off valve
Tenants should be aware of where the water stopcock and the gas cut off valve are located. These can be turned off by tenants in case of an emergency, which could save landlords a considerable amount of money if something went wrong.
These details should be included in the welcome pack or household instructions you provide to your tenants when they move in but it’s best to show them in person to ensure they’ve got it.
In the run-up to Winter, it’s advised that a property inspection is carried out. At this point, it would be worth asking the tenant to confirm whether they know where the gas cut off valve and stopcock are.
As many tenants may stay with family or go on holiday over the festive period, it may also be worth reminding your tenants to turn everything off whilst they’re away. You can also offer to visit the property whilst they are away to ensure there are no problems.
Check the roof
Cracked and missing roof tiles, as well as blocked gutters, can all cause problems if they aren’t dealt with before the winter weather sets in. Whilst you might be inclined to repair your property, tenants can feel less inclined to make a fuss about problems with their home, but water ingress can cause a lot of problems.
Blocked gutters from falling leaves in Autumn can cause serious water damage and damp. This type of damage usually occurs over a long period of time before the tenants actually notice.
Missing tiles are generally obvious and can be easily fixed. However, fractured tiles are more tricky to spot. The thing about cracked tiles is that they tend to get worse during winter, especially around periods of freeze and thaw - then all it takes is for a sudden storm to do an awful lot of damage.
Check the pipe lagging
As mentioned above, it’s important for the tenants to know how to close the stopcock should there be a burst pipe. However, this is only applicable if your tenants are aware of a pipe has burst.
You should lag all your water pipes to stop them from freezing during the winter months. Be especially careful to check the pipes in more ‘hidden’ areas that are more difficult to spot, such as pipes that run outside, in the loft or under the floorboards.
Regular boiler and heater servicing
Boiler and heating systems will be used more regularly in winter. Before October hits, make sure you get your boiler and heating systems are working smoothly. If any issues exist, it’s important to get it fixed as soon as possible. You might also have to provide portable heaters for your tenants until the boiler gets repaired. It’s better to keep your boiler routinely inspected and serviced to ensure potential issues are detected before they become a problem.
You may want to consider getting a landlord boiler cover, which will have your rental property’s boiler checked and serviced on a consistent basis. Many of these policies even involved free parts, labour and call-out fees, if they are required.
For heating systems, bleed all radiators from time to time during your inspections to ensure they can work efficiently when any air has been removed from them. Many homeowners also prefer to have all radiators fitted with thermostatic rates so that individual room’s temperatures can be independently controlled.
Clearing paths and driveways
It’s always a good idea to remind your tenants about any possibly hazardous situations that can occur at your property - better safe than sorry! For example, you may have paths that need clearing of leaves before the start of the winter months, or you may have paths that aren’t well-trained, which may get icy during winter.
Checking outside lights
Since winter days are shorter, it’s always good to ensure the outside bulbs are in good working order. Although you may think your tenants should be able to change a lightbulb themselves, external light fittings can be difficult sometimes. By changing the bulbs ahead, you can be assured you’re not going to get that emergency call around the holiday season.
Inspecting your rental property before Winter
We understand that inspecting your rental property may not be your first priority; however, ensuring the property is equipped for winter is an important fundamental step to avoid emergency call outs.
We can send out an independent professional to visit your rental property at a time pre-arranged with your tenants. During this appointment, our inspection specialist will complete a condition inspection and record this in a report. The report will highlight any new or ongoing issues that your tenant raises. It will also allow you to keep track of any routine maintenance that is required at the rental property ahead of winter.
Arrange inspection for your rental properties now. Or if you’re on MakeUrMove’s fully managed service, regular inspection is included.