Protect your home from winter surprises
We are now hurtling once again towards winter, and heavy rainfall and gale force winds causing havoc and damage to homes across the UK. OK, not quite yet but it’s surprising how quickly the autumn slips by and you don’t want to be caught out because wintry weather can pose a significant threat to your property.
As such, it is wise to make sure the flats and houses in your portfolio are prepared and protected as much as possible for the winter months ahead. So below we look at some of the most important things landlords need to consider when winter-proofing their properties.
Advice for landlords
- Are all pipes and tanks in the loft adequately insulated? It’s worth checking that the insulation has not been moved or dislodged by tenants.
- Are all overflow pipes correctly connected and not blocked?
- Are gutters and down pipes clean and free from cracks or splits?
It’s also worth checking that all supporting brackets are secure and in good condition – snow and ice can build up, adding excessive weight.
- 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 – it’s 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?
Advice to give your Tenants
- Are your tenants planning to be away? If so, ensure that they leave the heating on low.
- 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? Remember pipes can be fed from a tank as well as directly from the mains. You should check now that the valve moves easily without the need for any special tools.
- 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.
What to do if you discover damage
- 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.
- Turn 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 insurer as quickly as possible to report your claim.
No matter how many preparations you make, you can’t completely rule out the possibility that the weather will damage your property and for this reasons it’s vital to take out comprehensive landlord insurance with a reputable insurer.
It may mean tearing yourself away from the last rays of summer sunshine to make sure your rental’s in good shape, but on a freezing November morning when something goes wrong, you’ll be awfully glad that you did.
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