Winterproof your investment property
In films and on TV, winter’s often shown as the period of crisp white snow, blue skies, log fires and woolly hats.
Unfortunately, in real life, a normal winter is all about several months’ worth of high winds and torrential rain, punctuated by the odd icy snap. In other words, it’s a season producing weather typically designed to do the worst to your property.
If you’re a landlord, there’s a slight danger that not actually living in your investment property might mean that you overlook certain precautions designed to prepare for winter’s ravages. That’s something to guard against!
So, here are some top tips to help you get ready for the worst that winter can offer:
- check your roof. Sort out any slipped slates/tiles and look closely at the flashings around chimneys etc. If you see a problem – fix it. Your landlord insurance might typically require you do so under “care and maintenance provisions”;
- do likewise for gutters and downpipes. This is particularly a risk if you have trees nearby, as falling leaves might have blocked things up and need to be removed;
- make sure that your pathways and steps outside are all cleaned down and completely clear of moss. Slips on mossy steps in winter can be lethal;
- provide a basic supply of rock salt for your tenants to use to keep the main paths and outside steps clear after a freeze;
- inspect all windows, frames and doors, looking for breakages and gaps. Repair any problems to help insulate the property (this may be a legal requirement);
- be sure that external areas are lit via something like PIR systems or similar;
- don’t forget to check external drains around the garden. They can easily become blocked by autumn’s debris too and if they overflow, your property could end up being flooded;
- lag any external (and some exposed/unheated internal) water pipes. Lagging is not expensive and in most cases, it’s easily fitted. It’ll be a lot cheaper than paying a plumber to fix a frost-fractured water pipe for you and again, your landlord insurance may require you to do so;
- look at your existing insulation. Sometimes this can be damaged or even unintentionally removed by tenants. If it’s damaged or missing, replace it. Think laterally about places where insulation might be useful but doesn’t currently exist;
- get your boiler serviced. Yet again, this might be a legal safety issue and in any case, it’s common sense in terms of economy. Remember that the more inefficient and expensive to run your heating system is, the more your tenants might decide to restrict its use. It’s not in your interests to have your property unnecessarily damp and cold in winter because it’s bad for its structure;
- politely remind your tenants that they need to keep an eye on the property and report any problems (e.g. blocked gutters) to you immediately rather than just ignore it because it doesn’t directly affect them. Of course, there’s no point them doing so if you then fail to react – so fix it fast.
While we all hope for those picture-postcard winters, they’re unusual in the British Isles. So, your property will need all the help it can get.
So, get ready and good luck!