As a landlord, you want to ensure that your property is maintained all year round. However, winter comes with some specific concerns and challenges that you need to be prepared for.
Below are 7 things to keep in mind now that the weather is getting colder.
Check the pipes
It’s always important to keep on top of any breaks, leaks or blockages in your property’s pipes. However, this becomes absolutely vital in the winter months.
If a blockage or leak freezes, this can cause pipes to burst. This means you’re in for some expensive water damage, so make sure that your tenancy agreement (lease) contains a clause outlining the tenant’s obligations NOT to shut off the heating system if the property is vacated in the winter.
Clear the gutters
Autumn has just passed, meaning gutters can become clogged or blocked with leaves or debris. If this is the case, then when the cold weather sets in any accumulated water can freeze. If this happens, you risk water overflowing or broken external pipes.
By clearing the gutters after heavy rainfall or before frost sets in, you can give yourself the best chance of avoiding these problems.
Bleed the radiators
One way to safeguard against winter boiler problems is to get your radiators bled. Bleeding your radiators involves releasing trapped air that might be preventing them from heating up.
Bleeding your radiators is an essential home maintenance task, especially during winter, but can be an easy one to forget if you’re not living in the property. It may be worth asking your tenant to bleed the radiators for you, as well as getting them serviced on an annual basis.
Be prepared for power cuts
In the case of a winter power cut, your tenants are likely to be plunged into darkness. Although it’s not your responsibility to do so, it is good practice to ensure that your tenants are prepared for this possibility.
Talk to your tenants about this and check they have something in the property they can use as a light. You could even go the extra mile and put a torch in the property yourself.
Check the roof
The harsher weather will quickly expose any problems with your property’s roof – problems that could well have been caused by high autumn winds.
Anything that compromises your roof's integrity is going to cause pain during the winter. It will make your tenants unhappy due to the cold and, if there are any leaks, you’ll be picking up an expensive bill.
Get your roof checked before any of this can become a problem, it’ll save you money and stress in the long run.
Inform your tenants
You need to be in the know, but you also need to make sure your tenants know what to look out for. After all, you aren’t the one who’s going to be living in the property.
Your tenants are the ones likely to spot the warning signs if something has gone wrong, so make sure they know what to look out for. Providing a maintenance handbook at the beginning of the tenancy covering some of the above points could prove useful here.
Beware of void periods
Void periods are always bad news for landlords, but in the winter this is truer than ever.
With all the extra maintenance worry winter brings, having someone in the property means you’ll know quickly if something has gone wrong. If you do have an empty property over the winter period, make sure you regularly check everything is in order.
Remind your tenant to inform you if they are vacant for more than 14 days in the winter (this is usually in the tenancy agreement).
Need more advice?
Winter maintenance is one of the many challenges faced by landlords. If you’re looking for expert help and guidance, have a look at our resource centre – full of useful guides and documents that can make being a landlord just a little bit easier!
You can also take out landlord insurance as a precaution to cover damages.