Brrrr! Wind, rain, sleet and snow… Winter-proof your rental property now say the experts at Belvoir
As the icy temperatures of the snowy season approach, it is vital 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…
For maximum impact, visit your property in the daylight (ideally while it’s raining) to help you identify the key areas that need attention.
On arrival, take a step back and look at the roof. Are all the tiles snug and secure?
You should check the roof for loose tiles that could come down on a windy evening. It is essential that these are firmly secured in order to prevent rainwater leaking into the roof space. Heavy rainfall can damage a property at speed 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 too – 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 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’.
Does your garden have fence panels or trellising? If so, what condition are they in? Heavy wind and rain can cause extensive damage to garden fence panels and trellising, especially if they are already deteriorating. Check for wear and tear 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.
Once you’ve completed your outside checks, head indoors. As you enter, notice 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. Talking to tenants when doing an inspection can help identify problems. If, for example, the central heating system is playing up, this gives you the opportunity to have it repaired before it breaks down and incurs emergency call out costs. 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 be fully functioning and not clogged with debris. 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 too. Brown staining on walls or ceilings 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.
Head upstairs and 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. While in the loft space, assess the alignment of the roof tiles, if you can see daylight, some of your tiles may need to be repaired or replaced.
To prevent substantial damage during the winter months it’s important to be proactive. Once you’ve identified potential problems, have them fixed… now!
Acting and reacting quickly to maintenance issues as winter approaches is essential. Even small problems are likely to grow as the temperature falls – and, as a maintenance issue escalates, so does the price to fix it!
Words of winter warning…Ten 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