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Words of Winter Warning for Landlords

Words of Winter Warning for Landlords Winter-proof your rental property now say the experts here...

Words of Winter Warning for Landlords

Winter-proof your rental property now say the experts here at Belvoir Lettings. As the icy temperatures of the snowy season approach, it is essential to visit your rental property in order to assess how to protect it from the elements and help freeze potential winter problems in their tracks. Undiscovered maintenance issues can cause extensive damage and expensive bills during the winter months so we’ve created a simple checklist of potential problem zones, both inside the property and out.

Outdoor Observations - For maximum impact, visit your property in the daylight or even better, when it’s raining, to help you identify the main areas that need attention. Look at the roof. Are all the tiles snug and secure? Check the roof for loose tiles that could come down on a windy evening, so that rainwater leaking into the roof space can be prevented. Heavy rainfall can damage a property quickly if your property’s roof space is left unprotected.

Next, take a look at the guttering, downpipes and storm drains. Make sure your guttering is correctly aligned and securely connected to the downpipe. Also, check that it is not cracked or leaking. Ensure that the guttering is free flowing and clear of moss and fallen leaves, as a clogged gutter can cause rainwater to overflow and pour down the fabric of the building. Storm drains should also be free of clutter, leaves and debris so that rain water can pass into them with ease. Blocked drains can overflow and cause flooding.

Also, look at your property’s condensate pipes which come out of the boiler and usually run down the outside of your property. Make sure they are lagged and insulated. As soon as the temperature drops below freezing these pipes could freeze if not sufficiently insulated and this will automatically cut off a boiler and give an ‘error message’.

Check for wear and tear on garden fencing and trellising and firmly secure or replace if required. Be aware, however, that even the securest of fences which are well maintained and in good condition can still be affected by very high winds.

Finally, do you have an outside tap? If you do, it’s advisable to fit an isolator to your stopcock so your tenant can turn it off in the really cold weather if necessary.

Indoor Inspections - Indoors, take note whether the property feels cosy and warm or whether it’s cold and smells of damp. If possible, arrange to meet your tenant at the property so that they can inform you of any problems they’ve noticed themselves and you can brief them on the main winter warning signs to look out for.

It’s important to time your boiler service each year so it’s done in the months leading up to winter as all sorts of problems occur with boilers when they have to start to work hard again during the winter months. As you move around the property look out for signs of condensation. Condensation can cause serious problems during the winter season so look out for clouded windows and damp walls. You should check for condensation around your windows and on the inside of external walls where it’s more likely to be seen. Condensation is a massive problem in winter due to the property being heated up – when the warm air meets cooler air, or a cooler surface, it has to release some of its moisture as a result. Poor ventilation can make the problem worse.

In the bathroom, check that the extractor fan is working correctly in order to prevent a build up of moisture when the hot water is running. Bathroom extractor fans should always be fully functioning. Allowing steam from the shower or a hot bath to exit out of the bathroom window is also advisable. If the condensation problem in the property is severe ask a local builder or damp professional what they would advise. Inspect the walls and ceilings of each room for evidence of brown staining or peeling paint, which can be an indication of a leak. Determine what’s causing the leak and repair or fix accordingly. Brown staining on a bedroom ceiling is usually a sign that a roof tile has fallen off or come loose. Paintwork which is peeling or bubbling can also indicate a leak or other damp issues.

Upstairs, open the loft hatch. Are all the pipes lagged sufficiently and can you see any signs of daylight through the roof tiles. Ensure the property is fully insulated. In particular, watch out for pipes being above the insulation in the loft as these can be exposed to cold temperatures even if the heating is on. Also assess the alignment of the roof tiles, if you can see daylight, some of your tiles may need to be repaired or replaced.

Speedy Solutions - Once you’ve identified potential problems, have them fixed as soon as possible! It’s essential to act and react quickly to maintenance issues as winter approaches. Even small problems are likely to grow as the temperature falls – and, as a maintenance issue escalates, so does the price to fix it!

10 proactive things you can do to help protect your property

Visit your property and assess what is needed

Clear out the guttering. Clogged gutters can cause rainwater to cascade down the fabric of the building

Check fence panels aren’t loose and secure if necessary

Ensure the central heating is working correctly and have your boiler serviced

Secure loose roof tiles and replace any that are broken

Unclog storm drains to prevent them from overflowing

Brief your tenants on winter warning signs to look out for and ask them to report any maintenance issues they spot

Help limit condensation by resolving ventilation issues

Insulate pipes (including condensate pipes) to prevent them from freezing

Act quickly to prevent potential issues becoming bigger problems.

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