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What to do if a storm hits your rental property

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During the winter, storms are more likely to hit the UK and it’s important to protect your rental property against heavy rain and high winds.

We’ve put together a guide to help you know what to do if the worst happens and your rental property is hit by a storm.

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.

How to prepare if there’s a weather warning

It can be tricky to take all the preventative steps for your rental property if you have a tenant. You’ll have to provide 24 hours’ notice before you visit, 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.

Here’s an overview of the steps you can take when there’s a weather warning:

  • if there’s a flood warning, give your tenants sandbags to reinforce doors where water might enter the property
  • for high winds, secure any loose items outside like garden furniture and ornaments, or ask your tenants to bring them inside. Make sure your tenants close and securely fasten all windows and doors
  • for a particularly servere storm, you may want to reinforce the windows of your property, which can be done with plywood coverings
  • if snowfall is forecast, do a visual inspection of the property to check for exposed pipes, loose guttering, and roof damage. It’s also a good idea to buy some ground salt to spread over pathways to prevent people from slipping

Remember that you’ll need to get your tenants’ permission before making any of these changes.

What storm preparations can you make in advance?

While it can be difficult to make emergency preparations when you have a tenant in your property, there are things you can check in advance before the severe weather hits:

Pipes

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.

Roofs

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 of the main things to look out for is broken debris on the ground.

You can get the roof inspected from ground level – it’s useful to do this once before winter to prepare, and again after to assess if there’s been any damage.

Guttering

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.

In snowy conditions, you’ll need to check for loose guttering connections as the weight of snow can cause gutters to become dislodged.

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 the sealant around windows and doors to make sure they’re water tight.

It’s also a good idea to buy draught excluders to insulate the property, while also preventing doors and windows from rattling.

Water tanks

If you have a water tank in the loft, make sure the loft is insulated to prevent the water tank from freezing. The tank can crack and split when it freezes, causing eventual leaks and even flooding.

It’s important your tenants know where the stopcock is in your property, so they can turn off the water supply quickly in an emergency. It’ll usually be under the kitchen sink but it does vary from property to property.

What to do if your property is hit by a storm

During extreme weather conditions, you or your letting agent will need to stay in close contact with your tenants. If the property is flooded, instruct your tenants to turn off the gas and electricity.

If storm damage to the rental property means 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 – it’s the responsibility of the local council when natural disasters cause homelessness.

However, 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.

Home emergency cover, which can be added to your existing landlord insurance policy, could be extremely valuable if your property is hit by a storm.

This type of cover allows you – or your tenants – to call a 24/7 emergency line if you need to call someone out to fix problems caused by extreme weather such as a broken boiler, water damage, or electrical faults.

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.

Read more about making a claim. Sedgwick handle claims on behalf of Simply Business customers (unless otherwise stated in your policy document). You can contact them by phone, letter, or email – whatever works for you. We run through what to expect once you’ve made your claim.

For more tips and information on how to make a claim, visit our winter weather resource.

Have you been affected by a storm? If you’re a Simply Business customer and need to speak to Sedgwick, you can call 24/7 on 0333 207 0560.

More useful guides for landlords

Do you have any unanswered questions about what to do if a storm hits your rental property? Let us know in the comments below

Photograph 1: Richard Johnson/stock.adobe.com

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Zach Hayward-Jones

Zach Hayward-Jones is a Copywriter at Simply Business, with seven years of writing experience across entertainment, insurance, and financial services. With a keen interest in issues affecting the hospitality and construction sector, Zach focuses on news relevant to small business owners. Covering industry updates, regulatory changes, and practical guides.

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