As the autumnal chill begins to descend it's a great time to prep your property or properties so they’re ready for your tenants to take on the winter with confidence.
With a little help from the Deposits Protection Service, we’ve put together this 6-step guide that will help you get property-related jobs all wrapped-up for winter:
1. Removing obstructions from guttering
During heavy rain, major water overflow up in the eaves and gutters of a property is a sign of blockages from leaves and other debris that have built-up during the year and more specially the start of autumn.
That in itself is an issue, but when the temperature drops, the threat of frozen water and large leaf build-up can all lead to leaks, water damage or even broken gutters.
It’s definitely advised to get a professional up there to clear-up the guttering and drainage network of the property before the rains and harsher weather begin in earnest.
2. Repair exterior of the property
Hopefully, your tenants are good at reporting issues in and around the property, either to you or your property management company that’s representing you.
But, it doesn’t hurt to keep an eye out for any glaring problems that may crop up yourself. Look for things like minor cracks, blocked downpipes and cracked roof tiles, for example.
Things like this can turn into bigger problems such as gaping holes and downpipes can quickly overflow, consequently causing damp area.
With this in mind, have a walk around the outside of your property, examining roofing, and guttering. Ask yourself, will it last through the winter in their current condition?
3. Insulation, insulation, insulation
The Deposits Protection service advises: “One of the main reasons for heat loss in UK homes is a poorly insulated attic space. Making an effort to keep your tenants’ bills low is the best way to encourage them to keep your property warm, which will reduce the risk of long-term structural damage due to damp and mould. Plus it’s great for the environment too."
"You may be able to offset some of the cost of this work with government grants. The government’s Green Homes Grant scheme is now running and could give you up to £5,000 for loft and wall insulation and a new boiler.”
4. A warm and dry property is a happy property
Asking tenants to have their heating on timed is very important. Having the heating come on during the night when the temperature can drop below zero in the coldest months will fight against the possibility of frozen pipes, which can then burst.
We’ve mentioned the importance of bleeding the radiators in a previous blog which you find here. Lagging any exposed pipes is also a quick and cheap protective measure. This will ensure the house heats evenly to limit the risk from damp and mould and will stop pipes from bursting.
This is especially important if your tenants plan on leaving the property empty for an extended period of time, like over the festive period, for example.
5. It’s a breeze – the great winter paradox
The irony of the weather being cold and wet outside during the winter months is the windows ordinarily stay closed, but it's also precisely the time they need to be opened more to let out the moisture and allow air to circulate. If the windows aren't opened regularly however, this can lead to condensation in your property which can then go on to cause damp.
Ask your tenants to get into the habit of opening the windows often, certainly in humid parts of the property like the kitchen and bathroom. The extractor fans should be checked as well.
Now, this simple check-list will help in preparing your property for the winter but, Even with all of these checks, things can still go wrong. The very extremes of seasons will take its toll on even the most well prepared homes and things can 'give'. Adequate protection for any weather-related damage particularly to your boiler and roof is vital in an insurance policy, so make sure your current policy does cover this.