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12 simple steps to protect your rental property this winter

Protect your rental property and ensure tenants are happy and warm this winter with these useful 12 simple steps from property franchise network Belvoir.

1) Avoid the big freeze
“As we enter the colder months it’s important to remind tenants that if they are planning to be away from a property for a few days they should keep the central heating on a low setting to maintain a temperature of between 12-15 degrees Celsius in the property,” advises Major Mahil of Belvoir Birmingham Central. “If possible, they should also leave the hatch to the roof space open, as this can help to avoid frozen or cracked pipes.”2) Water works
“If a tenant intends to stay away from the property for more than a few days, then we advise that they turn off the water supply, and shut down and drain the central heating boiler and associated pipe work,” advises Samantha Bateman of Belvoir Portsmouth and Waterlooville. “However, it’s important to take advice before attempting to carry this out.”

3) Maintain boundaries
Check the fencing of properties to ensure they are not damaged and are able to stand up to harsh winter weather. Check fence panels and trellising for signs of wear and tear and repair or replace where necessary. It only takes one weak panel to potentially bring down an entire fence!

4) Outside taps
Outside taps can potentially cause problems in winter. If possible ask a plumber to fit an isolator to the stopcock in order to give tenants the option to turn off outside taps during really cold weather.

5) Be prepared
“It’s important for tenants to know how the boiler system in the property works,” says Samantha. “They should familiarise themselves with the operating instructions and, if they are unable to find the operating manual, they should contact the agent (with the make and model) so that a copy can be obtained.
“Batteries running out in a remote control digital thermostat can cause the heating to fail. Check batteries regularly and replace them (using the instruction manual) when necessary.”

6) Prevent leaks
“Clear out the guttering to avoid water logs and leaks,” advises Daisy Davies of Belvoir Swansea. “Fallen leaves and moss can clog guttering and lead to rain water overflowing into the infrastructure of the building. Check for leaks and cracks in the guttering too”

7) Rapid response
Act quickly when maintenance issues arise. Winter maintenance issues tend to escalate as the season progresses and the cost to fix them is likely to rise too.
“Make sure the boiler is serviced on a regular basis (usually once a year),” says Daisy. “As winter approaches bleed all of the radiators and keep the boiler pressure up too.”

8) Keep heat in
Good insulation is key to keeping a property as snug as possible. Ensure the loft is adequately insulated to help avoid losing heat through the roof – and make sure the pipes are lagged too, especially those that run through the loft space and are vulnerable to sharp drops in temperature.

9) Extractor advice
“Check that bathroom extractor fans are working and that they are cleaned on a regular basis,” advises Major. “This is important in order to help prevent any moisture build up in the bathroom when tenants are having a hot shower or bath.”

10) Emergency matters
Have you got a plan in case of an emergency? It’s wise to prepare in advance, perhaps investing in a portable heater and electric urn in case a tenant is without essential services to the property. Supplying bottled water can be useful for tenants with no running water due to frozen pipes.

11) Prevent condensation
“Although they won’t completely prevent mildew and condensation, adequate heating and ventilation in the winter months will assist in keeping the problem down,” says Samantha.

12) Essential inspections
If your property is currently vacant, it is essential that you or your agent visit it regularly to inspect for winter maintenance issues. Check for leaking windows and damp walls, plus (if you haven’t switched off the water) try the taps to make sure the water is flowing. Frozen pipes left unnoticed in an empty home can result in extensive damage and expensive bills.