Landlords, now is the opportune time to check up on your tenants and your properties to make sure they are ready for winter before the cold snap really kicks in.
Prevention is most definitely better than cure, and when it comes to property maintenance, planning ahead can save hundreds of pounds – regardless of the season.
McCartan Lettings’ Property Manager, Lewis, has these tips for making sure you are prepared:
Get in touch with your tenants. Inspecting a property before winter sets in can be beneficial in highlighting any minor maintenance that can then be addressed before it has chance to develop into a bigger problem. Speak to your tenants, especially vulnerable tenants, to make sure they know how to use the heating correctly, know where the stop tap is, and know what to do and how to contact you if they have an emergency, especially over the festive break.
Gutter cleaning. Now is the time to plan on getting your gutters cleared once all the leaves have dropped from the trees. Blocked gutters can cause damp issues; if left for a long time, they can lead to costly repairs and take a long time to rectify. Historically, it has been assumed that clearing the gutters had been part of the tenants’ responsibility, however this is not the case and landlords should budget for their gutters to be cleaned annually, especially if the property is close to lots of trees.
Bleed radiators. Bleeding radiators at least once a year (if the property has gas central heating) will help improve the efficiency of the heating system and keep bills down. Usually, this is the tenants responsibility as part of the contract, but it is worth making sure they know how to do it!
Service boilers. Broken down boilers are one of the most stressful and costly situations for landlords – especially in winter! Tenants will expect the fault to be fixed immediately, and sometimes that is not possible. By getting your boiler serviced annually, you can reduce the risk of boiler breakdowns (note: a landlord gas safety certificate is not the same as a service). If your boiler does break down and it will take a few days to get fixed, it is essential you keep the tenant informed of everything that is happening and why. It is prudent to also have some electric heaters on standby if it is exceptionally cold or if they are elderly or have children.
Holidays planned? If your tenant is going away for a week or two, make sure they know what to do to protect the property against frost. Ensure the heating is set to 15 degrees if it has a thermostat, or have the timer set for an hour or two twice a day. If your tenant is going away for more than 14 days, check with your insurers to make sure you are still covered as some policies have a vacant period clause that could invalidate a claim.
And if it does go wrong? Contact your local trades to find out who is working over the festive break and who isn’t. Don’t assume that your trusted gas plumber will be available to assist with your broken boiler on the 27th December. Also, if you plan on going away for the festive break, make sure your tenants know who to contact t in an emergency and let your contractors know who your tenants are if they do need to call.
If you would like any advice with regard to handy men, gutter cleaners, or Gas Safe plumbers, we would be happy to put you in contact with one of our recommended contractors. Give Lewis and the team at McCartan Lettings a call on 01792 430100.