Winter Tips for Landlords

When you’re renting out property there are plenty of things that you need to keep track of to ensure that your investment is well looked after and gives you good returns with the minimum of hassle. While you need to keep an eye on maintenance throughout the year, winter presents its own set of challenges due to the cold weather and problems that can arise as a result of this. Here are some essential tips for landlords to help you avoid problems that could turn a relaxing Christmas time into a major disaster!

Information– most modern properties are built to meet certain standards by way of insulation, but the older the property is, the more likely you’ll benefit from preventative measures. Check that doors and windows fit well to minimise drafts and leaks. Cavity wall installation and loft insulation are well worth investing in from an energy efficiency point of view too. There are plenty of schemes now where you can have these types of insulation works carried out for free; talk to your tenants and ask if they’d be willing to apply for funding to have the property insulated. This benefits both parties; your tenants will save money on bills and you will have maintenance work conducted without having to stick your hand in your pocket! You should also make sure that your boiler and pipes are well cladded to prevent problems with freezing and efficiency.

External pipes– these should be checked routinely every year and any blockages or leaks should be repaired as soon as possible. If pipes freeze they can expand and burst which could cause flooding and water damage in and around the property. External brickwork should also be inspected for cracks which could allow water to seep into the walls causing damp and rot problems.

Keeping on top of things– if an issue is brought to your attention, it makes much more sense to fix it now rather than later. Problems never go away by being ignored, they just escalate – potentially creating a much bigger issue that will be much more costly to repair. If something goes wrong in the middle of winter, you may have to wait to get somebody to attend to it – the cold months are busy time for plumbers and heating engineers, so better to prepare in advance than wait till something becomes urgent.

Provide the right information– keeping your property in a good state of repair is both your responsibility and your tenants too; but if they don’t know what to look out for, little things can get missed. Make sure that your tenants know where the stopcock is, and how the boiler is operated. If you tenants are going to be leaving the property to visit relatives over the Christmas period, make sure that they put the heating on to a timer, or at least set the boiler onto frost protection mode to ensure that pipes don’t freeze if the temperature plummets – which could cause untold problems. It’s also important to make sure that your tenants have a contact number, either for yourself or for your letting agents, in the event of any problems. Also leave numbers for your gas, electric and water suppliers too so that they can go directly to them if needed.

Empty properties– if you’re without a tenant in your property over the winter then you’ll need to check in regularly to keep an eye on things. Make sure that the heating is still working, and open a window to let a little fresh air circulate. If you’re using a letting agent for your rental properties, ask what their policy is for empty houses. It may be that they will carry out these checks for you – but don’t just assume this – call them or check your contract if you’re not sure.

The assurance of insurance– make sure that you have buildings insurance and landlord insurance when necessary. Check what’s included in your policy and make alternative arrangements for any potential problems that aren’t covered. It might be worth investing in additional insurance for white goods and your central heating if these items do not fall under your regular insurance policies.

Buying a property to rent out can be a great way of building a little nest egg or securing your retirement future. However, houses can be expensive things to fix if something big goes wrong, so you need to ensure that you’re either using reputable letting agency to help you manage things properly or that you’re prepared to invest some time and energy into keeping everything running smoothly.