Winter is fast approaching – 15 top tips for landlords

With winter fast approaching, the lettings team at Belvoir reveal their 15 top tips for landlords…

– Switch on “It’s a good idea for agents or landlords to write to tenants to request that they try putting on their central heating as soon as possible to make sure it is working,” says proprietor of Belvoir Paisley Denise Rhodes. “Otherwise at the first really cold snap everyone turns on their central heating and, when quite a few are not working, it puts a strain on contractors and consequently lengthens response time.”

– Days away “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,” says proprietor of Belvoir Birmingham Central Major Mahil. “If possible, they should also leave the hatch to the roof space open. This can help avoid frozen or cracked pipes.”

– Weeks away “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 proprietor of Belvoir Portsmouth Samantha Bateman. “It’s important to take advice before attempting to carry this out.”

– Fence thoughts Is the property’s fence going to stand up to the winter wind? Check your fence panels and trellising for signs of wear and tear and repair and replace where necessary. It only takes one weak panel to potentially bring down an entire fence!

– Service suggestion “Make sure the boiler is serviced on a regular basis (usually once a year),” says Daisy Davies of Belvoir Swansea. “As winter approaches bleed all of the radiators and keep the boiler pressure up too.”   – Isolated incident Did you know that outside taps can sometimes be the cause of problems in winter? If you can, it’s advisable to fit an isolator to their stopcock in order to give your tenant the option to turn them off during really cold weather.

– Important instructions “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 us (with the make and model) and we’ll try and find a copy for them.”

– Guttering guide “Clear out the guttering to avoid water logs and leaks,” says Daisy. “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”

– Quick thinking Reacting and acting quickly is essential when maintenance issues arise. Don’t be tempted to ignore a problem thinking that it’ll clear itself up come spring. Winter maintenance issues tend to escalate as the season progresses and the cost to fix them is likely to rise too!

– Battery life “Batteries running out in a remote control digital thermostat can cause the heating to fail,” says Samantha. “Batteries should be checked regularly and replaced (using the instruction manual) when necessary.”

– Lofty ideas 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.

– 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.”

– 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 too.

– Condensation prevention “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.

– Empty homes 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.

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