As the winter weather sets in, insurance companies see the number of claims rise, as properties are hit by storms and flooding. Follow our top tips to keep your rental property in good condition this winter.
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1. Think about your landlord insurance
Firstly, make sure your landlord insurance is in place and you’ve got all the cover you need. Landlord buildings insurance and contents insurance can pay for repair if your rental property is damaged by something like a flood or a storm, while property owners’ liability insurance can be extra important in the winter too, as accidents may be more likely and this insurance covers compensation claims if you get blamed for injury or damage.
Read our winter insurance tips for landlords article for more help with checking your policy.
2. Double check your pipes
Check your property’s pipes to make sure there are no leaks and joins are secure. Seal any small cracks with putty and ensure pipes are well-insulated as otherwise they may freeze and burst in cold weather. You can find guides and videos online to help you do this.
If your property will be empty for a period of time, it may be sensible to ask your tenants to leave the heating on low, or to set the timer so that the heating will come on at a certain time each day, as this can help avoid frozen pipes.
3. Make sure your roof is in good repair
Winter is also a good time to check the roof of your rental property, looking out for broken tiles, issues with pointing and rendering, and cracks in the chimney, if you have one. If you spot anything awry you’ll need to get it fixed, as otherwise water may come in during heavy rains, or weak spots in the roof could buckle under heavy snow.
You may need a roofer to help you identify and fix issues.
4. Clear and repair the gutters
Broken or missing guttering can be a big problem if there’s heavy rain, as the water may not be properly directed away from the house. Make sure existing gutters are free of leaves, moss and other debris, and replace any missing guttering and end caps.
5. Get the heating system going
It’s a legal requirement for landlords to have gas systems checked annually by a Gas Safe engineer, but it’s also a good idea to have the boiler fully serviced and any issues sorted out. If the heating and hot water system is in good working order now, your tenants are less likely to have issues over the next few months.
If the radiators aren’t getting very hot when the heating is on, they may need bleeding. This is a relatively simple task that you can do yourself. Check out our how to bleed a radiator guide for step-by-step instructions.
6. Put insulation in place
There’s not much point having a good heating system if your property is drafty and poorly insulated, because much of the heat will be lost. Things that can significantly improve heat efficiency in your rental property include double glazing, cavity wall insulation and loft insulation, but even smaller measures like putting in draught excluders and curtains can make a difference.
Note that from April 2018, privately rented properties will be legally required to have an energy performance rating of at least E (the rating system is A to G) on an Energy Performance Certificate - part of the governments ‘green tax’, so it will become even more important for landlords to make energy saving measures.
7. Talk to your tenants
Maintaining a good relationship with your tenants means that they’re more likely to help you keep the property in good condition, and they will let you know if anything’s wrong. Make sure they have all the details they need about the property, including the location of the stopcock in case they need to turn the water supply off if there’s a leak.
If heavy snow or local flooding looks likely, talk to your tenants about an emergency plan, and make sure they’ve got several ways to contact you. Also tell them the measures you’d like them to take if they’re going away for a period of time, for example over Christmas.
How are you keeping your rental property in shape this winter? Give us your tips in the comments.