When the winter nights close in, many of us look forward to spending the long, dark nights indoors in the warmth surrounded by home comforts.
If however there are frozen pipes, house insulation problems or boilers on the blink, any visions of cosy winter nights can quickly disappear. If tenants are left to face these or other issues in a rental property, landlords can find themselves faced with having to organise what can often be expensive repairs during the festive season – but luckily there are some preventative steps that can be taken to ensure a rental is winter-proofed and ready for the cold weather before it gets to that point….
Pay attention to house insulation
According to the Energy Saving Trust, in an uninsulated home, a quarter of the heat is lost through the roof. Installing attic insulation can help to combat this, as can ensuring that all wall cavities have adequate insulation in place as well. Good insulation that is correctly installed can last up to 100 years – plenty of time to recoup the capital outlay for installation in energy savings!
Check the boiler
This is especially important with properties that have a combi-boiler, as any malfunctions can mean both the heating and hot water is affected. This is disruptive to tenants at any time, let alone in the coldest months of the year! It is your legal responsibility as a landlord to have an annual Gas Safety Check carried out, at which point the boiler should be examined. As such, you may want to arrange the check to be carried out in the autumn months so that any issues can be spotted and rectified, or if necessary you can buy a boiler brand new and have it installed before winter sets in.
Carry out plumbing maintenance
Jack Frost claims many pipes every year, and these burst pipes can cause a huge amount of water damage. Dramatic drops in temperature that can lead to freezing and thawing leads the pipes to expand and often crack, causing disastrous and expensive havoc. Pipe insulation, also known as pipe lagging, is one way to prevent this, as the pipes are lined with a foam layer that helps to keep them “warm” and prevent freezing.
There are a couple of other steps you can take too, such as reevaluating your energy tariff and seeing if you should switch supplier, and clearing out the gutters and drainpipes to prevent backlogs that can result in flooding and leaks.
Whether you instruct a property management company to do the above for you or you prefer to do it yourself, taking the time to conduct a little cold weather maintenance can make a substantial difference to the condition of your property and contentment of your tenants. As always, you should double check you have insurance in place that is up to date – just in case there are any burst pipes or Christmas tree mishaps to contend with!