With autumn peering over the horizon, it’s important to ensure that your property is well prepared for a change in the weather as we head towards the last quarter of the year.

The winter months are where properties seem to develop most faults, whether it’s broken boilers or leaking gutters, this is the time when landlords make the most calls to tradesmen for emergency repairs. But rather than waiting for disaster to strike, use this time to ensure that your rental property is ready for winter, with our handy guide.

Here are our five top tips for rental property preparedness that every landlord should know…

No. 1 – Clean the gutters:

Autumn is a good time to inspect and clear the guttering of your rental property, removing debris such as leaves and mud will minimise the risk of blockages which can result in leakages from heavy rain or melting snow. It is equally important to check your drains and clear away anything that shouldn’t be there. Also while you are up those ladders, have a quick visual inspection of the roof, if you notice any loose, broken or dislodged tiles make a note of it and contact an expert who can come out and carry out any necessary remedial works.

No. 2 – Check gates and fencing:

Take some time to examine the boundary of your property to assess the security and stability of the fence and any gates. Stormy weather and heavy winds will make light work of a flimsy fence which can leave you with more than a few headaches in terms of damage. Repair any joints which have been impacted previously by bad weather and you should hopefully avoid having to carry out costly repairs or even emergency repairs should they be necessary.

No. 3 – Review your insurance:

Regularly reviewing your insurance documents and having a comprehensive insurance policy designed especially for landlords could prove to be a godsend if the wintry weather does wreak havoc on your rental property. Specialist cover for landlords can protect against things like an escape of water, or damaged fences, some policies may even cover your boiler – although they are often restricted to boilers under a certain age that have been serviced regularly.  Investing in specialist policies may also cover emergency accommodation for your tenants in the event of a disaster that means they’re unable to remain within the home. Even though specialist insurance policies for landlords aren’t a legal requirement, some mortgage lenders may specify this.

No. 4 – Have the boiler and heating serviced:

Boiler maintenance is essential, at any time of the year but especially so as we head into the colder months, when any inspection should highlight issues that may have gone undetected when the heating hasn’t been needed during the warmer months. As a landlord, you have a legal obligation to ensure your gas boiler is inspected each year and that a gas safety certificate is provided to your tenant.  If you can, try and time your yearly boiler service and gas safety inspection to take place in the autumn, this way, you’ll ensure that your tenants stay warm and you stay legally compliant. But remember it’s not just gas boilers that can cause the central heating to fail.  Radiators that haven’t been used for a while could need bleeding.  Plus, as the temperature falls, there’s a risk of freezing pipes and therefore it’s a good idea to inspect pipes for any signs of cracks or damage that could be exacerbated once the thermometer reads zero.

No. 5 – Talk to your tenants:

Maintaining a good relationship with your tenants means they’ll be more likely to help you keep your property in good condition, and let you know if anything’s wrong. Make sure they have all the details they need about the property, including the location of the stopcock in case they need to turn the water supply off if there is a leak. If heavy snow or local flooding looks likely, talk to your tenants about an emergency plan, and make sure they’ve got several ways to contact you. Also, tell them about any security or maintenance steps you’d like them to take if they’re going away for a while (over the Christmas and new year break for example).

Nearly half of all landlords fail to carry out these simple maintenance checks on their properties before the winter weather sets in each year and find themselves with escalating problems, such as expensive repairs and unhappy tenants who may choose to move elsewhere! Take care not to find yourself in the same position.

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