With the cold weather now upon us, it is a great time to take stock and look over your rental portfolio to Winter-Proof properties before the worst of the bad weather hits. A little time and effort spent on prevention work now can save a lot of trouble and money further down the line.
Burst pipes, blocked drains, broken gutters and un-serviced boilers can all result in significant damage to a property, and significant repair bills. Areas to pay particular attention to include the roof, pipes, heating system. Blocked gutters can also cause excess water, which can freeze to form dangerous patches of ice, so it is vital you are vigilant. Blocked gutters may also cause penetrating damp which will have a knock-on effect with internal walls.
Ask your tenant about dripping taps. It may seem an innocuous problem that can be easily fixed, but a dripping tap in freezing conditions may block the waste pipe with ice and can cause a problem if left for a long period of time. Even a gentle trickle of water could freeze and block pipes.
Insulate all pipework in unheated areas like lofts, roofs, outbuildings and garages. Also, lag any cold-water storage cisterns in your loft.
The biggest cost to most landlords is the boiler so get the boiler serviced if you have not already done so. The peak times for using heating systems start now and typically most break downs occur when the cold weather begins. Ensure that your tenant has access to all the relevant manuals and instructions booklets. Sometimes the issue relates to a very simple something.
If you are unsure, get in touch with your letting agent for some advice – property management teams are very experienced when it comes to dealing with cold weather. Remember you have a statutory responsibility to ensure that the property is fit for purpose. Do not leave it to the last minute to Winter Proof your property, prevention is better than a cure!