Winter weather - and all the joys that cold weather brings! What cover does your insurance provide? Do your tenants know what to do to help prevent freezing pipes? And watch those candles!
Winter is upon us and all thoughts are with the upcoming festivities. The children want to know “will it snow” and we all dream of a white Christmas. Or do we?
Apart from the obvious travel disruptions there are numerous problems which can occur in the home. Frozen pipes and boilers which can lead to extensive damage to the property – walls, ceilings, floors and personal belongings are all at risk should the worst happen. And then there is the fire risk from all those festive candles and Christmas lights.
As we all know prevention is better than cure so:
Insulation – ensure all pipes including those in the attic and external pipes are properly insulated.
Ensure all smoke alarms are working.
Get your boiler serviced, and your gas safety record updated, before the hard weather begins.
If your tenant reports a leaking pipe organise the repair straight away – if left unattended it can develop into a very expensive problem.
Check with your insurance provider:
What cover do you have in the event of the property becoming uninhabitable and the tenant has to find alternative accommodation?
What cover do you have if the property is vacant or left unattended for a period of time if your tenant is going away over Christmas?
What actions regarding heating/boiler does your insurance company require you to take if the property is vacant for a period of time – and what is the number of consecutive days allowable under the policy?
Make sure your tenant notifies you if they are going away anytime over the Winter period.
Ensure they are aware of the need to leave the heating on at a low temperature to ensure the water in the pipes does not get cold enough to freeze.
Ensure they know the location of the stop cock and have instructions on what to do should the pipes freeze.
Remind the tenants of the possible dangers of candles and Christmas lights and not to remove the batteries from the smoke alarms – they are there for their safety.
Remind the tenants of the necessity to pre-empt the build up of condensation by allowing a regular airflow, particularly in kitchens and bathrooms – sometimes forgotten about in the effort to keep the house warm.
Organise to have the heating on at a low temperature – the water in the pipes will remain at a constant temperature and should not get cold enough to freeze. This will also make it more welcoming should you be showing the property to prospective tenants. Alternatively engage a professional plumber to drain the system and shut off the water supply – some insurance companies insist on this.
Remember – you may find it difficult to get workmen out when the weather conditions are bad. A letting agency who uses the contractors week in and week out will have priority.
If you have a Full Management service from your letting agent they can look after all of the above for you leaving you to enjoy Christmas in the knowledge that any problems will be dealt with in a professional efficient manner. You, of course, will be kept well aware of any problems and the actions being taken to remedy them.
Being prepared for all eventualities will make the Winter season more enjoyable for both Landlord and Tenant.