Winter is coming! With the temperature starting to change it is important to make sure that your property is well prepared for the coming winter months.
In fact, recent research conducted by online letting agent, Upad, found that almost half of all private landlords have not carried out essential property maintenance in preparation for winter. Only 52% of landlords stated they had already carried out these checks during the summer months.
To stop your property succumbing to harsh winter weather take a look at our pre-emptive measures and top tips.
It’s not too late to prepare your property!
Inspect your roof and guttering
Strong winter winds can have a detrimental effect on the quality and structure of your roof, such as exposing loose tiles, cladding and even causing damage resulting in leaks to the floors below.
Leaks are particularly damaging costing far more in the long run than the time taken to check they are secure.
While inspecting your roof it is also a good idea to check your guttering. Like the roof, it is likely that strong winds may dislodge them or a build-up of leaves and other debris could collect causing a blockage.
Do you have adequate insulation?
Wildlife such as birds and squirrels have a habit of displacing insulation in roofs over time, especially if they have found a way to make a nest. Similar problems can also incur from using loft space. It is a good idea to make sure that all of your insulation is in the correct place and to rectify any displacement as soon as possible.
Top tip – Not only does this keep out the cold weather but helps reduce the amount of heating needed by your tenants helping them save money!
Bleed your radiators
Although often overlooked, bleeding your radiators can be very useful for maintaining your property in the cold weather. Bleeding radiators involves removing trapped air that can build up over time and prevent them from working efficiently. This can result in the property feeling cold.
As a landlord bleeding radiators may not be at the top of your maintenance list, especially when not living in the property, however, this can make a significant difference to your tenants and your property.
Top tip – If you can’t get to the property regularly to bleed the radiators speak to your tenants about doing this themselves, making them more comfortable over the winter months.
Avoid a burst boiler and frozen pipes
Without doubt, the worst time to have a boiler breakdown is in winter when temperatures drop and we are reliant on heating. A broken boiler can cause landlords and tenants huge problems, even leading to a dispute! It is, therefore, best practice to ensure that the boiler is in top working condition.
Top tip – Arrange your annual boiler service for this time of year, safe in the knowledge that it is in good working order for the cold weather ahead. This is especially useful for testing boilers that may have been switched off during the summer months!
Top tip – Encourage tenants to leave the heating on at a low temperature, even if going away in winter. This will help to avoid frozen pipes. While this may cost a small amount more in utilities it is significantly less than the inconvenience and costs incurred if a pipe was to burst.
Top tip – For any pipes that run outside the property it is a good idea to ensure that the water flow is off and the tap is run dry before the temperature hits zero. This helps to avoid any structural damages caused by excess water freezing.
Be mindful of damp and mould
Condensation can be a big problem for many properties as warm air created in the property from everyday activities, such as cooking and showering, meets cooler surfaces such as a window or wall. It is therefore extremely common during cool winter months.
Unless properly ventilated, this build-up of moisture in your property can lead to mould growth.
Damp, and especially mould, can be detrimental to your tenant’s health and can cause long-term problems for your property.
Top tip – Make sure that ventilation in your property is adequate. In kitchens and bathrooms, a major hub for condensation and mould, ensure that extractor fans are working correctly. It is a good idea to check these as part of a mid-term property inspection.
Top tip – Try turning the cold tap of the bath on first, this way when the hot water hits it will not produce as much steam. Did you know having a bath produces two pints of moisture?
Top tip – Wipe away condensation as soon as you spot it so that it doesn’t linger leading to mould growth.
For more top tips and prevention methods read our expert guide here.
Keep your tenants informed
One of the best ways to ensure that your property is in a good condition is to talk to your tenants about the best ways they can maintain the property in winter. This is especially useful if this is their first winter in the property, as this will vary dependent on the age, location and structure of the property they are living in.
Top tip – Providing your tenants with a maintenance handbook is one good way of ensuring they have all the correct information and contact details should a problem occur.
Being open and approachable will encourage your tenants to flag up any issues in the property with you, allowing you to fix them before they get worse and cause potentially more costly problems. This will also give your tenants confidence that you are committed to maintaining the property and providing them with a suitable and comfortable place to live. A happy tenant makes a happy landlord.
You can find expert guides on keeping your tenants informed here.
While property problems caused by winter weather can leave you feeling frosty as a landlord, following our key maintenance tips can help you see out the season issue free!
For more top tips and expert property advice take a look at our extensive resource library here.