How can landlords ensure their properties are winter-proofed?

Winter can be a turbulent time for both landlords and tenants – with its potential hazards that could harm your rental property and cost you money if left untreated. High winds, excessive rain, snow, and ice can lead to anything from frozen pipes to blocked guttering.

With recent freezing temperatures and promises of yet more wintery weather on the way, there’s never a bad time to ensure your property and tenants are well looked after during the cold spells.


Exterior Property Maintenance

As a landlord, you are largely responsible for the exterior maintenance of the rental properties in your portfolio.

This can include;

  • Roof and guttering repairs
  • Garden and fences
  • Window cleaning and repairs

The following tips will help you protect the exterior of your property over the winter;

Roofs and Guttering

Missing roof tiles can cause expensive structural problems in the long-term. If your property is missing a few tiles, a particularly bad winter storm could result in leaking and interior damp.

Likewise, a blocked gutter can lead to water damage. An annual gutter clean is a sensible maintenance task to perform at the beginning of winter, after the autumn leaves have fallen and before the worst of the weather hits.

 

Repair Cracks and Crevices

Any gaps or cracks in the exterior of your property could result in long term problems if left untreated. If moisture from the outside finds its way into the property, you could be facing serious damp and mould issues. This is easily avoided through regular inspections and property maintenance.

Key areas to focus on include;

  • Air leaks around windows and doors
  • Garage or shed doors
  • Ill fitted exterior doors

Winter Garden Maintenance

Usually, general garden maintenance is the responsibility of the tenant. However, if your property is experiencing a void period or you are preparing for a new tenancy, you may need to perform some garden maintenance.

Broken fences are the responsibility of the landlord, so it’s a good idea to check for any loose posts before the wind sets in. In addition, any trees with dangerous overhanging branches may need tending to.

To protect yourself from any disputes regarding garden maintenance at the end of a tenancy, always ensure the tenancy agreement clearly sets out which tasks are the responsibility of the tenant.

Winter Pipe Maintenance

When water freezes in very cold weather it expands and can result in burst pipes. To prevent this;

  • Ensure pipes are well insulated
  • And there are no cracks
  • Fix any dripping taps
  • Get the boiler serviced regularly
  • Run the heating at a low temperature during void periods
  • At the start of a new tenancy, make sure your tenants are aware of the location of the stopcock and understand what to do in case of an emergency

Fireplaces and Chimneys

If any of your rental properties contain working fireplaces, a professional clean by a chimney sweep will help to prevent debris build-up which could pose a fire hazard.

Door Locks

Sometimes, extremely cold weather can freeze locks. Rather than getting a late-night call from a tenant locked out of their home, a pre-emptive spray with lubricant will prevent sticking.

Prevent Pests

Cold weather can draw in pests such as mice and voles. To prevent any unwelcome visitors, ensure all small holes and cracks around the exterior of the property are properly sealed.


Interior Winter Maintenance

The following winter home maintenance tips refer to the interior of your rental property;

Winter Boiler Maintenance

Perhaps the most important consideration for your tenants, is ensuring the property’s heating system is in good working condition before the cold winter weather hits.

If the weather drops severely, your boiler is at risk of freezing. To avoid this;

  • Remind your tenants to run the heating regularly.
  • If your property is going through a void period, it’s worth setting the heating to come on at certain times throughout the day or to run it constantly at a low temperature to help prevent dampness and keep the boiler in good condition.
  • We also recommend bleeding the radiators regularly to prevent pockets of air from entering and affecting the heat they give off.
  • Get the boiler serviced once a year by a gas safe registered engineer before winter really kicks in.

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

The start of winter is a good time to check your smoke and CO alarms are all present and in working order.

Since 2015, it has been a legal requirement for landlords to install working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on each floor of a property. Failure to do so could result in a £5000 fine for each non-working alarm.


Winter Property Security

Fewer daylight hours and empty properties around Christmas time can result in higher levels of property crime. Encouraging your tenants to practice these safety tips should help to avoid any nasty surprises;

Timed Lighting Systems

If your rental property is left vacant over the Christmas period as tenants visit family and friends, it’s more vulnerable to theft and damage.

Encouraging tenants to use a timed lighting system when they go away for extended periods can help to prevent break ins. Alternatively, leaving the bathroom light on uses up minimal energy whilst warding off burglaries.

Exterior Safety Lighting

If you’re worried about a vacant property, installing security lights can help to prevent break-ins.


Invest in a thorough property management agent

Winter checks are time-consuming, particularly if you’re trying to restore control of your time and let your property portfolio do the work for you. As part of our management, our efficient maintenance department can liaise with yourself, contractors, and tenants to ensure your home is prepared for the winter. A well-maintained property during the cold spells can keep your tenant happy, and thus help to sustain a long-lasting, happy, and healthy tenancy.

For more information, give us a call on 0161 883 2525.

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