It might be the most wonderful time of the year, but Christmas brings certain risks to rental properties.
As we enter the festive season, it’s worth getting in contact with your tenants to let them know about potential hazards and advise them on how to avoid them.
We’ve pulled together the four most common issues that can impact tenants during the run-up to Christmas, and some tips on how to keep them at bay.
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How to approach tenants about Christmas
Though there are increased risks during the run up to Christmas, knowing how to approach your tenants about these can be tricky. You want to make sure your tenants have those risks at the front of their minds, but not for it come across as though you don’t trust them.
One way of doing it is by sending a Christmas card (and maybe a little gift - it is the season of giving, after all) and including an awareness checklist. Here are four things every landlord should include.
1. Decorative fire hazards
Modern fairy lights are usually fairly safe, but it’s worth asking your tenants to turn them off overnight, and check that they’re not using any ancient ones that might not meet modern fire safety standards or overloading their plugs.
Naked flames are a more obvious fire hazard, so it’s worth reminding your tenants not to leave any decorations that use those unattended, or keep them near soft furnishings.
And though it is Santa’s usual entry point, stockings hanging over the fireplace (or other heat-generating appliances) can catch light, so it’s worth advising your tenants to keep them elsewhere.
If you or your tenants haven’t checked the property’s smoke detector recently, now is a good time to do so.
2. Seasonal thieves
Unfortunately, theft levels often spike in the run-up to Christmas. With decorations and presents laid out in advance, thieves are given a good indication of which houses might prove to be lucrative targets.
With that in mind, it’s a good idea to keep curtains closed overnight, and consider only setting out presents on Christmas Eve. If you have any additional security features, whether it’s dead bolts or motion-activated lights, ask your tenants to check that they’re all working as expected.
Lastly, it’s worth asking your tenants if and when they’ll be away over Christmas, so you’re aware when the property will be empty and more likely to be a target.
3. Wet weather woes
While we might not get a white Christmas this year, as temperatures get lower, plumbing and structural issues with your property could rear their heads.
If you’ve previously had issues with pipes or drainage, it’s worth doing a check of those before the weather gets really nasty - no one want their tenants calling up on Boxing Day to say a pipe has burst.
And if you know which areas are likely to cause an issue, you can ask your tenants to keep an eye on them and alert you in advance if something seems not quite right.
Check out our full article if you want more tips on how best to prepare your property for wet weather.
4. Messy guests
This is a difficult one to raise with tenants, but if they’re having a lot of guests over then the risk of damage increases, whether it’s a glass of red wine spilt on the sofa or muddy footprints on the carpet.
One way to do this is to turn reminders about guests into a festive joke. You could let them know that Santa should remove his boots after coming down the chimney, and that he needs to be careful with his sherry - we all know he’ll be a bit tipsy by the time he arrives.
And don’t forget your insurance
Finally, as much as you and your prepare, some things are beyond your control, and you could end up with damage to your property, whether it’s from thieves breaking in or Rudolph chewing on your sofa.
Check your insurance to make sure you’re covered for any potential Christmas disasters, and if you need to add anything then just let us know.