Don’t wait for an emergency call from your tenants before addressing problems with your rental property. Prevention is always better than a cure with property repairs!
Inside your house
Insulation is key. Pipes that lead outside need insulating as do cold areas of the house such as roof spaces, basements, cellars and out buildings.
If your property becomes empty during the winter it is worthwhile making regular inspections, ensure the cold water mains are turned off to minimise potential damage from burst pipes and leave the heating on low.
Inspect the heating system. You should, by law, already have an annual service planned for your boiler, however it is worth turning the heater on to ensure that everything is working properly so you can spot potential problems before they happen.
Having tenants go without a working boiler during the winter is a nightmare, and can end up being very costly.
If your rental property has a fireplace and chimney, make sure it is taken care of before tenants use the fireplace for the first time. Arrange for a professional to inspect and clean the chimney, clearing it for debris and checking to make sure no other repairs are needed. A faulty chimney can become a health hazard as well as a safety and fire hazard.
Check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. It is your duty to ensure that they are all in proper working order. Carbon monoxide detectors are particularly important in winter, as people tend to keep windows closed.
Make sure that both you and your tenants are aware where key items are such as the stopcock and fuses/fuse board in case of emergencies – this will also save you from being called out to easily solvable problems.
It’s also now worth checking the home insurance policy is up to date and having a read through of your tenancy agreement. Many of the above checks could actually be a tenant’s responsibility, so you might want to ask whether your tenant is complying with their obligations.
Your gardens will be hit the hardest, so prune large hedges, shrubs and branches, especially if they are overhanding buildings and public spaces.
It is also important to clear the fallen autumn leaves, sticks and debris from gutters and downpipes to stop them from getting blocked up. If the gutters are clogged, the roof could suffer damage from poor drainage, ice dams and melting snow.
Water gets into cracks in driveways and pavements and expands them via freezing and thawing. What was a small crack in can easily turn into a safety hazard following a harsh winter. Consider using a concrete sealer manufactured for just this purpose to stop the process.
Outside your house
Inspect the roof as it takes a bashing from harsh winter weather. Check for loose or missing slates and tiles and any holes where water could leak through.
It is also worth repairing any loose or missing pointing and rendering on walls as any gaps could allow water into your property’s joints and may cause more damage should it freeze.
While your rental property may not be able to withstand every single winter-related disaster, by being prepared you can minimize the damage and problems, thus saving yourself time, stress and money.