All properties require a little more maintenance over the winter, and as a landlord it’s your responsibility to ensure your property has adequate heating and water facilities. So when the weather worsens and temperatures plummet, how can you protect your property? Here are 5 major ways to prepare for the cold – you can do these things yourself if the rental is empty, or make an information pack for your tenants so they’ll know how to take care of their home.
1. Check the central heating
Before the weather turns freezing, it’s a good idea to give the property’s heating a once over. Boilers should be serviced at least once a year, and more often if they’re old, so make sure yours has been inspected. One quick check is to look at the flame of a gas boiler: if it isn’t a clear blue, call a professional. You should also make sure the boiler is well ventilated (don’t pile things up around it!) and check whether any radiators contain trapped air that needs bleeding (i.e. if they’re colder at the top than at the bottom). Sorting these things out before the busy festive period will mean you won’t be hit with expensive call-out charges if something goes wrong over Christmas.
2. Heat the water pipes
This is especially important if the property will be empty over winter – e.g. if the tenants are going away for a week or more – because frozen pipes can expand, burst and cause flooding. To combat this, keep the heating on at a constant low level (13°C or higher), or allow one of the taps in the property to drip to relieve any pressure in the system. More permanent solutions involve fully insulating pipes in problem areas (e.g. attics and basements) and blocking up any holes or cracks that lead to the outside.
3. Consider fire safety
At this time of year, perhaps more than any other, it’s vital to look out for fire hazards. Tenants might want to fill your property with cosy candles and pretty fairylights, but make sure they’re aware of the dangers: candles should never be left unattended or put near flammable materials, and fairylights must not be left on when the tenant goes out. Before the festive season really kicks off, make sure all the smoke alarms are checked and working.
4. Maintain the exterior
The outside of your property deserves a little care and attention too, as it will be enduring the worst of the winter weather. Make sure that all drains and gutters are cleared of pesky autumn leaves that might cause blockages and create problems later. You should also check the state of the roof; you can do this by examining it from the inside and looking for damp patches and sunlight shining through, or you can hire a professional to carry out a roof inspection (these are recommended every 1-5 years, depending on the age of the roof). For added outdoor safety, you could even provide grit for garden paths and driveways.
5. Be prepared for anything
If something goes wrong with your property, you don’t want to work out how to deal with it while it’s happening, so make sure you’re prepared for any emergency. Could the pipes burst and cause a flood? Ensure your tenants know where the stopcock is so they can turn off the water if they need to. Could the boiler fail during a cold snap? Give your tenants an emergency number so they they can call for repairs without having to go through you. The quicker a winter crisis gets sorted out, the better.
Are you a landlord with a property to let in Bristol? Contact Gough Quarters today for help with your rental.