Although good property maintenance is important all year round, it becomes an especially pressing topic during the cold, ice and snow of winter. Landlords and tenants both have a responsibility to ensure that properties are well looked after, never more so than during the winter. In this article, we look at some simple measures that a landlord can undertake to ensure that everything is winter ready.
Carry Out a Winter Inspection
Carrying out an inspection as winter sets in can help you to identify any areas that need immediate attention or could become bigger problems if left. Hopefully your tenant will have informed you of any issues that have arisen but casting an experienced eye over the property will likely identify issues that a tenant might not be aware of. So where should you be looking?
Insulation, Water and Heating
Ensuring that your rental properties are winter ready and weatherproof will be a priority. Considerations include:
- With around 25% of the total heat loss from a house being from the roof, checking the insulation in the loft is doing its job. Whilst you are in the loft, check to make sure the roof is intact without signs of water ingress or daylight peeping in.
- Wrapping pipes in lagging is an easy and inexpensive way to help prevent pipes from freezing or bursting. Encourage your tenant to empty water from the external pipes after use and to cover external taps with an insulating tap cover.
- Having the boiler serviced regularly is a sounder financial decision than having to call an engineer to deal with potentially costly problems. If you can, get the boiler serviced early as winter is a peak season for boiler engineers.
- Ensure that your tenants are aware of how to heat the property and that the property should continue to be heated, even if they are away from home for any length of time. It is also prudent to heat the property during void periods.
- Check internal pipes and taps for leaks, a small leak is a relatively quick and easy fix. If left, a small leak can quickly become a major financial burden.
As the garden and outside spaces are not likely to be in use over the winter period and therefore not monitored, it’s even more of a matter of importance to check for any issues. As part of your checks, consideration should be given to areas, such as:
- Ensuring drains are free from leaves and debris to prevent blockages.
- Clear gutters to make sure they continue to do their job.
- Snow falls and winter winds can cause overhanging branches to cause damage to windows, gutters, and the roof. Check for dead branches and remove and cut back as is prudent.
- Check the roof tiles to make sure that they are all sound and in place.
- Check the exterior of the property for gaps and cracks, left these will be open to water ingress causing damp and mould in the property. Water ingress will also damage the construction of the property, so it is advisable to make sure any cracks are filled as soon as possible.
- Check fence panels and posts to see if they are secure and ready to withstand the bad weather. Reinforcement is far more cost effective than replacement.
Whose Responsibility Is It?
It’s important that it is laid out clearly in the tenancy agreement whose responsibility various jobs are within the property, both inside and out. Such jobs that are especially important during the winter period could include:
- maintaining the garden
- bleeding the radiators
- repressuring the boiler
- keeping windows condensation free