Winter is looming … The chill in the air; frosty mornings and freezing nights. Have you prepared your rented home for winter yet?
There are several steps that you can take to ensure your home is well maintained.
A good start for any Landlord would be writing a winter checklist. Prioritise your list and bear in mind, the longer you leave organizing your checks, the longer you will have to wait for checks to be carried out. Engineers get very busy throughout the winter months. Plan in advance.
Servicing the boiler
Homes with gas central heating are required to have their boilers serviced annually. This will ensure your gas central heating is kept in good working order. Waiting until mid-winter to have your boiler serviced could result in costly call out charges.
Tenants may not know how to bleed radiators, so it would be worthwhile explaining this to them and highlighting the impact that it could have on the property, should they not bleed the radiators regularly. Boilers lose pressure if they are turned off which will reduce the amount of water running through the heating system. If the lower half of the radiator is piping hot and the top half is very cold then the radiator needs to be bled.
Bleeding radiators regularly will ensure you get the best out of your heating system. Ensure that your central heating is switched OFF when bleeding radiators, and protect the area underneath to avoid spills damage.
Find your stopcock
One of the main hazards of a cold winter is split water pipes. Show your tenant where the stopcock pipe is, and show them how to switch it off and on. If the worse does happen, they will know how to quickly switch off the water supply and reduce possible damage.
Smoke & CO Alarms
Show your tenant how to check that smoke and CO alarms are in working order. If any alarm is not working following replacement batteries, you as the Landlord are responsible for organizing replacement of the unit.
A well-insulated home will keep your tenants warm and save them money on their energy bills. Ensure you have extractor fans in bathrooms and kitchens. This will reduce the risk of condensation and the dreaded mould.
Although it is the tenant’s responsibility in making sure the drains are kept clear, it is worth having your drains checked every year or so. You as a Landlord may be entitled to claim compensation for any damage done to the house as a result of blocked drains.
Tenants may spend time away from home, especially over Christmas and New Year. It is worth explaining to your tenants that they should NOT switch off the heating during these times, or in fact, any time throughout the winter months.
Setting your heating on low means you will avoid freezing pipes. You should also consider asking your tenant if they can have someone check on the home from time to time, or you can check the home whilst they are away. Explain to your tenant that you, the Landlord, could claim for costs if frozen pipes were to cause damage.
Consider turning off your inside stopcock and draining the system so that there is no water in the pipes to freeze.
Check your home insurance
Make sure your insurance protects you for any winter emergencies and that it is tailored specific to Landlords, Tenants or Owner Occupiers.
Information pack for your tenant
A great tool for your tenant could be an information pack relating to the property, listing all of the above as tips on how to prevent any problems with freezing pipes etc, as well as details of a point of contact in emergency situations.