“When maintenance issues arise, act quickly,” advises Peter Johnson of Belvoir Skipton. “Dripping taps can cause frozen waste pipes, so ensure these are dealt with promptly. A leaking pipe under the bath may cost a landlord £20 to fix, but if left unattended can develop into an expensive problem.
“Whilst individual landlords may find it difficult to get workmen out when weather conditions are bad, an agency that uses them week in and week out will have priority. This can be very reassuring as tenants expect urgent problems to be fixed as quickly as possible.”
John Tynedale from Belvoir Tynedale in Northumbria says: “Ensure that pipes are properly lagged, particularly in the loft. Keeping the heating on low makes commercial sense, and is much more welcoming when a prospective tenant comes to view. If the central heating runs on oil ensure there is sufficient oil in the system to allow for this.
“Check that electric light bulbs work, and there is credit in the electric meter. Landlords are legally required to have a gas safety certificate for the boiler, but many consider an annual service a waste of money. In fact this can help to keep the boiler functioning properly for much longer.
“If possible, fit an isolator to the stop cock of outside taps and turn off in winter, to help prevent burst pipes. Check down pipes and guttering to make sure they are in good working order. Inspect fencing too, as it is much cheaper to replace a single panel now rather than an entire fence later in the season.
“Here at Belvoir Tynedale if a property is fully managed we visit when it is empty to check that everything is OK. This is particularly important if a landlord lives some distance away and cannot visit regularly.”
Mike Campbell of Belvoir Falkirk says: “Last year’s severe winter was a huge challenge for landlords, with many reporting guttering and downpipes brought down by the sheer weight of snow and ice.
“To prepare for this winter I recommend that landlords consider a planned or scheduled maintenance programme, which would typically include windows, doors, eaves, fascias and soffits, slates, and external repainting. During the autumn it is important to clear all gutters and check for leaking joints.
“Another good tip for landlords is to buy an electric urn and keep it on standby so that tenants can heat water if there is a problem with the boiler. Landlords can also stock up on bottled water to deliver to tenants with frozen pipes until the water authority can visit. Also consider investing in a couple of electric heaters to offer as stop gap solutions until the gas engineer can call.”
12 winter warnings….
1) Make sure all pipes are lagged properly.
2) Pay attention to leaking taps and arrange to have them mended.
3) Book an annual service for the central heating system.
4) Ensure the boiler manual is easily available.
5) Clear gutters and check for leaking joints.
6) Check that eaves, fascias, soffits and slates are in good working order.
7) Make sure external repainting is completed.
8) Inspect fencing and replace broken panels.
9) Fit an isolator to the stopcock of outdoor taps and turn off in winter.
10) Invest in a couple of electric heaters and an electric urn for tenants to use in an emergency.
11) Stock up on electric light bulbs and ensure electric metres have credit in them.
12) Visit void properties regularly and act quickly to rectify problems.
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