In the winter season, storms are more likely to hit the UK. This means that it’s important to protect your rental property against storms, which can include heavy rain, snowfall, and high winds.
We’ve put together this handy guide to help you know what to do if the worst happens and your rental property is hit by a storm.
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Preparing your rental property for a storm
Prevention is the best cure when it comes to preparing your rental property for storms and extreme weather, including heavy rain, high winds, snow, and ice.
Preparations if there’s a weather warning
It can be tricky to take all the necessary preventative steps if your property is tenanted – you have to provide 24 hours’ notice before you visit a tenanted property, and if severe weather is already on the way, time probably isn’t on your side. However, if you contact your tenant and explain the situation, the likelihood is they’ll be willing to give you access to the property without 24 hours’ notice.
If there’s a flood warning, providing your tenants with sandbags will help them batten down the hatches.
For high winds, securing any loose items outside, such as garden furniture or ornaments, or asking your tenants to bring them inside will minimise the risk of damage. Make sure your tenants close and securely fasten all windows and doors.
For a particularly violent storm, you may want to reinforce the windows of your property, which can be done with plywood coverings.
Remember that you’ll need to get the permission of your tenants before making any of these changes.
While it can be difficult to make emergency preparations for a tenanted property, there are a number of steps you can take in advance, while the property is empty or after giving your tenants advance notice. Here are just a few ways you can prepare for when a storm and severe weather hits:
Checking all your pipes to make sure they’re in proper working order and aren’t likely to burst or leak should help minimise the risk of water damage to your property.
Pipes are susceptible to the cold, so you might want to insulate external pipes and internal ones in areas that aren’t heated, to stop them freezing in snowy and icy conditions.
If roof tiles or slates are already damaged, they don’t stand much of a chance in extreme weather. Weak points will be compromised in heavy rain, wind, and snow, so check for signs of existing damage – one sign is broken debris on the ground.
You can get the roof inspected from ground level – some recommend that this happens once before the winter to prepare, and once after to assess if there’s been any damage.
Make sure guttering isn’t damaged already – freezing weather can cause cracks to form, and bad guttering won’t do you any favours in a storm.
Check for debris in the guttering system, because if there’s a clog it won’t perform well. If necessary, you can call on professionals who can clear the guttering.
Windows and doors
Water damage is one of the biggest problems for landlords during adverse weather conditions, so check that your windows and doors are water tight.
Water tanks can freeze, so if there’s one in the loft, the loft should be insulated to prevent this from happening. The tank can crack and split when it freezes, causing eventual leaks.
Steps to take if your property is hit by a storm
It’s important that you or your letting agent stay in close contact with your tenants. Should the property be flooded, instruct your tenants to turn off the gas, if your property has gas, and electricity.
If a storm damages your property to the extent that your tenants have to move out, you’ll need to make arrangements with them about what happens next.
Landlords aren’t obliged to provide alternative accommodation – that is the remit of the local council in cases where natural disasters have caused homelessness – but you may be obliged to pay for it if you’re found to have known about a fault and not fixed it, such as a damaged pipe that then burst and caused the property to flood.
However, if you’re not providing alternative accommodation for your tenants, you need to think about how to proceed in terms of rent. In most circumstances tenants will still be legally obligated to pay rent even if the house is uninhabitable, but this will depend on the specifics of your tenancy agreement. If it will take many months for the property to be repaired, it may be best to end the tenancy.
Contacting your insurer and making repairs
Your landlord insurance can help to cover the cost of repair work that needs to be done. It’s best to contact your insurer as soon as you can after a storm damages your property, as delaying may impact your claim.
Make sure you take photographs of the damage and speak to your insurer before you book any work as they may have preferred contractors.
Our guide to making a claim will take you through the steps you need to take, including contact details for the Simply Business Claims Team and what to expect once you’ve made your claim.
And while you’re thinking about insurance, check out our list of the four most common landlord insurance claims to see the best measure to take to avoid having to make a claim.
Making a claim is sometimes unavoidable. If you’re a Simply Business customer and you need to speak to our Claims Team, you can contact us 24/7 on 0333 207 0560.