Now that the clocks have gone back it marks the start of shorter days, colder nights and, if you aren’t careful, a range of troublesome and costly problems associated with the cold weather. So don’t forget to follow these top tips…
1. Damp and mould
Mould can be, and often is, caused by the tenant’s actions (or lack of) around the home, for instance insufficient heating or ventilation of the property, or perhaps drying clothing indoors. That is why you need to make sure that your tenants know what they can do to prevent the build-up of condensation and mould.
As a landlord make sure you have done your part by providing adequate ventilation systems and ensuring the property is free of damp either in the form of rising damp, penetration from the outside or condensation.
Condensation can be especially troublesome during the winter months and can damage paintwork and fixtures and fittings. As it gets colder your tenants may start to keep windows closed to save precious heat. But poor ventilation leads to a build-up of condensation, which leads to mould and in-turn leads to unhappy tenants. Make sure that you explain the importance of keeping the house ventilated, for example by using extractor fans when cooking.
Some tenants opt to pull on a jumper instead of turning on the heating, and who would blame them with the cost of rising energy prices. But this too can contribute to a build-up of mould because it is important to maintain an even temperature throughout the property to prevent condensation. You can remind tenants of their right to switch energy suppliers if they are concerned about costs, as there are always good deals to be had.
Autumn brings leaves so make sure you check the guttering as leaves can cause blockages and water to overflow, which can damage walls and rendering causing damp problems.
A well-insulated home can lead to condensation if it is not properly ventilated but it can help combat against mould and help with the energy bills, making your property more attractive to let. However, insulation measures aren’t cheap, so shop around and get a free energy assessment here to get expert advice on what improvements you could make to your properties.
A burst pipe can be an expensive problem to fix but it can be prevented by ensuring that the heating remains on during cold spells. If your property has pipes on the outside it is even more important to keep the heating on as they will be more susceptible to freezing. It may also be worth investing in pipe insulation.
Remind your tenants to leave the heating on or to use a timer to ensure it comes on regularly (especially if they are going away). A gentle reminder can save you the cost of fixing burst pipes and your tenants from the hassle of no hot water and/or heating while it’s being fixed.
Winters can sometimes be a give-away for people not being at home. As it is darker for longer it gives thieves the opportunity to see if people are home by whether the lights are on or not. Again, advising your tenants about preventative measures such as automatic lights is always a good idea, and installing several so that they turn on and off at different can help deter opportunistic thieves.
4. Stop taps
Be sure to tell your tenants where to locate water and gas stop taps and the fuse box and make sure they know how to operate them. In an emergency it will help to ensure swift action is taken and minimise any damage or danger.
5. Fire Hazards
While fire safety is important all year round, the winter period can increase the chances of fire due to a number of factors such the use of candles, fires and heaters.
Properly working alarms, connected to smoke or heat detectors play a large part in saving lives in the event of a fire and it is now law to have smoke alarms fitted in rental properties on every floor.
Stress to your tenants the importance of not tampering with the alarms, for instance taking out the batteries, and to test them regularly.
Provide your tenants with primary means of fighting fire, such as fire blanket and extinguishers; you can find fire and gas safety equipment here. For more advice and guidance on health and safety, you’ll find chapters on fire, gas and electricity safety in the NLA’s online library.
6. Contact details
It is important that your tenants know how to get in touch with you or the property manager in the event of an emergency. All of this information can be included in a tenant’s information pack which you should provide to all your tenants.
7. Get the right insurance
Finally, even if you have taken all appropriate measures to ensure your property is in ship shape, problems can still occur and the current cold weather should act as a reminder for landlords to ensure your properties and investment are properly protected by having the right type of insurance.
Normal home insurance policies are not valid so it is vital that you have a comprehensive landlords’ insurance policy that suits your needs and covers for weather-related problems such as frozen pipes and subsequent flooding, storm damage, water leaks and third parity liability for injuries to others.
NLA Property Insurance has a comprehensive range of policies to suit the needs of any landlord. Whether you have a single property or a portfolio NLA Property Insurance will give you value for money. For more information and to see the highly competitive premiums click here.