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Top tips – how can landlords prepare their home for colder weather?

Even in a non-Covid year, winter presents certain challenges
for landlords when letting out their property. This year, with us all likely to
be spending much more time indoors throughout the winter, it will be even more
important to keep homes winter-proof and shielded against any cold
weather-related issues.

Living in the UK means that landlords do need to bear in
mind how to weather-proof their properties throughout the year, and especially
in winter.

Here, with the helping hand of ARLA Propertymark, we’ve
collated some top tips for landlords to follow during the colder months, to
help you avoid too many expensive repairs.

Bleed the radiators

An unsexy sounding task, but a vital one. If your tenants
are complaining about feeling cold despite having the heating on, it could be
the case that the radiators need bleeding.

Fortunately, bleeding the radiators needn’t be a big job and
will help to ensure that the pipes in your property are being heated
effectively when the temperature drops.

The best thing to do, according to ARLA, is to speak to your
tenants and explain that this will keep them warmer too.

As an alternative, and if local restrictions allow it, you
could opt to go to your property and bleed the radiators yourself.

However, it’s important to speak to your tenants before
visiting to make sure that they are not shielding, self-isolating or showing
symptoms of Covid-19. ARLA also advises that it’s important to adhere to the
government guidelines at all times, remembering to socially distance and wear a
mask to protect your tenants once inside the property.

Let the breeze in

The understandable temptation, when it’s cold or wet
outside, is for tenants to keep the windows firmly shut. However, ARLA warns
that this could lead to condensation in your property, which could later
convert into damp and mould. Such issues can escalate quickly and get out of
control fast, and can be very expensive to remedy.

ARLA advises you to speak to and educate your tenants on the
issue, encouraging them to open windows in especially humid areas like the
kitchen and bathroom. As a landlord, you can do your bit by ensuring that
extractor fans are working properly in these areas.

There is an added incentive this year to keeping a home
well-ventilated, as evidence suggests that Covid-19 spreads much more
effectively in places with poor ventilation. If you let to students, house
sharers or big families, make sure to emphasise the importance of good
ventilation to them in the colder months.

Be aware of trip hazards

Icy steps and slippery drives can be the natural consequence
of cold and wet weather, which can also lead to cracks in pathways. Such cracks
could cause tenants to trip and fall.

To stop this being an issue, ARLA recommends that it’s best
for landlords to stay on top of any existing cracks – from small to large – by
hiring in the professionals to fix them or clearing the debris and filling them

If you’re not confident about the DIY approach, call on your
letting agent to arrange expert help, which could prove more cost-effective
over time.

Clear out the gutters

A perennial favourite instruction from landlords to tenants,
but no less important because of that. While falling leaves can look pretty,
they can also cause major issues if left unremoved from your gutters.

ARLA says frozen water, heavy leaves and blockages can all
lead to leaks and water damage, or even broken gutters, which makes it
important to keep gutters clear from any debris – leaves and litter, in
particular – to minimise the risk of anything going wrong.

As it will be difficult for you to physically visit the
property on a regular basis to clear the gutters, you will probably want to
hand this responsibility to your tenants. It’s in their interests to keep the
gutters clear because of the potential issues caused. Make sure they know of
their responsibilities by outlining this in the tenancy agreement.

Periodic inspections will also allow you to check that there
are no issues with your guttering.

Employ a safety first approach

Winter brings with it long, dark nights, and typically
increases the chances of opportunist burglars carrying out robberies. While
such events are thankfully rare, it’s still worth double checking that the
security lights and burglar alarm at your property are working properly.

If you don’t already have these measures in place, it’s
recommended that you install them to improve on safety.

Although ARLA points out that tenants might not be out and
about as much as expected due to social distancing restrictions, with less
natural light around as the winter months descend, a visible alarm can still be
an excellent deterrent.

In addition, you may want to consider having a quick word
with your tenants to ensure they don’t leave expensive items on display which
could attract thieves when they are out the property.

Check the boiler

It’s good practice to get your boiler serviced around once a
year, but with lower temperatures outside, tenants will be making the most
of their heating – even more so with many now working from home.

As a result, it could be worth getting an extra service. Assuming
your tenant is not self-isolating, they can allow a plumber into the property
to check the boiler works efficiently, keeping them warm and your rental home
in good condition.

Cover yourself in the right way

As we know, you can carry out all the checks in the world
and things can still go awry if the weather takes a turn. Problems outside of
your control could emerge.

As such, you should check your current home insurance
package is up to date, making sure that the policy gives adequate protection for
any weather-related damage (especially to your boiler and roof).

Tailored landlord packages will often be on offer, so work
with your letting agent to ensure you have the right protections in place.

Here at Ideal Locations, we will strive to make your rental
homes as weather-proof and protected as possible this winter. For more
information on our current operations, please contact
us today

If you would like to discover how much your home could be
worth on the current market, be sure to
check out our instant online valuation tool.