Winter can be a challenging time for landlords. The colder weather can lead to a wide range of property issues when not addressed. Fortunately, there are several steps that landlords can take to ‘winter-proof’ their properties and keep their tenants happy.
Check the Roofing
It is important to make sure that your roofing is sturdy enough to withstand the harsh winter winds. If missing shingles are not fixed in the prior, warmer months, it is easy for large patches to become dislodged across Winter.
Despite its picturesque nature, snow can weight down rooves and guttering, making it prone to damage. It is worth having any lost roofing slates repaired and to ask the roofer to clear off any snow if present.
Clear the Guttering
Any debris left in the guttering can cause damage to both the external and internal property. Clogged guttering prevents rainwater from running correctly. This can lead to it spilling down the side of your property and causing damp patches.
Damp, blocked gutters are also more likely to attract pests. Rodents, for example, will use any loose tiles or holes to find a way into the house. Infestations are not only hard to resolve, but they will impact your reputation as a property owner.
The best ways to clear the guttering is to use a sturdy ladder to reach your roof and to carefully remove the debris, placing it in a bag to be disposed of later.
Improve the Property’s Insulation
Energy standards are continually rising. An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and an energy rating of E or higher is required to rent out a property. Insulating your property is a cheap way to raise your energy rating.
On top of this, your tenants will expect their home to stay warm over Winter so they can remain comfortable. If your property is poorly insulated, your tenants are likely to rack up their heating costs. Both factors could affect the relationship you have with your tenants, leading them to look for alternative accommodation.
Installing a cavity wall can help improve the insulation in older properties. This wall consists of two walls with a gap in between containing insulating material. By slowing down the moving of heat, your property will retain more warmth.
You can cut down on draughts with a little DIY. For windows, if you do not want to invest in double glazing you can use foam sealant to close the gaps. For doors, you can use a weather bar or a door brush strip.
The most effective route to good insulation is to consult a professional and to have them handle any necessary changes. This can be expensive, but it can be worth it in the long run.
Bleed the Radiators
You can tell when radiators need bleeding quite easily. If they are making a lot of clanking and gurgling noises, this can be a sign that they are not working correctly. Faulty radiators will also heat up well at the bottom but cold at the top. To bleed a radiator, you will need to switch off your central heating and use a bleeding key to release the trapped air. Once this has been done, your radiator should make no hissing noises and you will be able to switch the heating back on.
Check the Boilers
It is down to your tenants to report any issues with the property’s boiler, but it is your responsibility to handle any maintenance. Even if it is not due to be checked, it is worth calling a qualified gas engineer to make sure it is working properly. An engineer will be able to spot faults early which could prevent a full boiler failure. You can also buy boiler breakdown cover to offer you some financial protection in advance.
Watch Out for Frozen Pipes
During the winter months, pipes can freeze if there is any leftover water. When the ice thaws, it can lead to floods in and around the property which can be expensive to remedy. This can be prevented by prepping the pipes in advance. You should turn off the water flow and drain the system by opening all the taps.
Advise Your Tenants
Your tenants can help you manage properties across Winter. Tasks such as clearing snow can be undertaken by your tenants so it is worth contacting them beforehand and explaining what they can do to help. Your tenants are also the eyes and ears of your property. You should encourage them to speak to you if they spot any issues across Winter. By dealing with problems quickly, with a strong two-way dialogue between tenant and landlord, you can prevent a great deal of household deterioration. Minor issues can become severe if not addressed, which can lead to costly fixes. Maintaining a good relationship with your tenants not only keeps your income stable, but it can also help towards keeping the property in good shape.
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