It is that time of year again! With a distinct chill in the air and dampness on the ground, the cold snap that has hit the country in recent days is likely to persist which will really test your rental properties to the limit.
With temperatures set to plunge further in the coming weeks, the last thing you want is a phone call from your tenants informing you that there is an emergency just as you are about to set off on your festive break. A few precautions can help avoid this situation.
Making the decision to winter-proof your property can save you time, money and a whole lot of hassle!
Follow these few simple winter-proof steps from Simple Landlords Insurance now to help you avoid becoming the victim of a property disaster this winter.
Prevent burst pipes
A burst pipe caused by frozen water is the number one issue caused by falling temperatures and account for one fifth of insurance claims made by landlords.
This happens most often over winter if a property is empty and the heating is off because it is unoccupied or the tenants have gone on holiday. The water freezes and expands in the pipes, which crack and burst when the weather warms.
Prevent burst pipes by advising your tenants to keep the heating on low even at night, and especially if they go away on holiday. If they do have a leak, it is their responsibility to report it promptly and your responsibility as a landlord to arrange the repair. If your tenants do find a burst pipe, make sure they can switch the water off immediately at the stop cock to prevent further damage.
Check your insurance policy
The last thing you want as you are shifting into holiday mode is to discover your tenants are having an emergency. The only thing that’s worse is to later discover that your insurance policy is out of date, or doesn’t provide the cover you need. Make sure your policy is in order and up to date and if you live far away or will be unavailable over Christmas and New Year, consider adding home emergency cover to your policy.
Weather proof your roof
Wind and storm damage can cause some serious damage to your property but insurance policies will only cover this if your property has been reasonably maintained.
Most insurance companies measure storms using the Beaufort wind force scale. It is generally considered highly unlikely that a storm below 52mph would damage a well maintained property. Loose ridge tiles, old fencing probably won’t be covered on your insurance if damaged in winds less that those classed as at storm levels by the Beaufort scale.
Make sure the heating is working
By having a draughty, cold property, not only is it uncomfortable for your tenants but it also could lead to a number of problems, including mould, a broken boiler and frozen pipes.
Take steps to improve your property’s heating by installing insulation, bleeding radiators and installing draught excluders around windows and doors. It’s also a good idea to call a Gas Safe registered engineered to check the boiler is in good working order, before temperatures really plummet.
Although often overlooked, clearing gutters of debris and leaves is crucial, especially in the colder months. Having gutters that don’t drain properly can cause a whole host of problems for your property, like rot, penetrating damp and damage to the foundation caused by water running down external walls.
If it snows or freezes, a blocked gutter could also come loose from your property, causing even more problems. Check gutters are secured properly, and speak to your tenants about keeping them clear.
Condensation and mould
Mould is a nightmare for many landlords, and if ignored for a long time, it can be very difficult to get rid of. Not only is it unsightly, but it can also pose significant health risks especially to people with lung conditions and children, which could threaten your tenancy contract in a worst case scenario.
During winter, damp and mould can get worse because of condensation caused by things like heated rooms with poor ventilation, or clothes being dried on radiators. Remove any existing patches of mould, and make sure your tenants know how to reduce damp and condensation in the home over winter.