Top Tips For Protecting Your Rental Property This Winter
Winter in England. Ice and Snow. Relentless drizzle. Harsh winds.
Before you fully resign yourself to months of hibernation inside your cosy home, spare a thought for your helpless rental property – leaving it to fend for itself against the elements may leave you with unforeseen repair costs that could have easily been avoided.
Here are our top tips for protecting your rental property this winter or getting it ready for winter viewings.
Those beautiful Autumn leaves have stopped falling and now is the perfect time for your annual gutter clean out! Blocked and backed up gutters and drainpipes can cause damage to external walls and roofs and can lead to so much more expensive than the cost of a quick visit from a gutter-cleaning expert.
Just a couple of missing tiles crossed with a nasty winter storm and just like that, you’ve got a serious leak or interior damp to deal with. Flat roofs are particularly vulnerable to leaks after big downpours. Pre-winter roof inspections and repairs are your best defence.
If there’s a way into your property from the outside during our notoriously wet British winter, the damp will find it. Check for cracks in walls, degraded window and door seals, poorly fitted exterior doors and even draughty garage doors. A bit of recaulking, resealing and wall-crack repairing is worth it now to save battling set-in damp and mould later. A door sweep or two for blocking drafts goes a long way to keeping the house warm and dry too.
Air it out
Whilst you need to keep the damp out, you also need to consider the problems that can arise with condensation. We need to keep the air flowing – so check the extractor fans are working and ask your tenants to keep the property well ventilated – especially to let some fresh air through on dry days.
Keep it warm
Boiler failure is super common in winter and the last thing your tenant needs when it feels like the arctic outside is no hot water. Having a pre-winter boiler service (conducted by a registered engineer) every year is ideal, and if the property is empty, get a timer set up to run the heating on low for a couple of hours each day to prevent pipes from freezing up. You should also make sure that pipes are well insulated and check for dripping taps and any other cracks or leaks that need repair.
Wrap it up
Ok, so not literally, but a well-insulated property is a more desirable rental and will help to keep heating costs down through the winter – and possibly even justify asking for a higher rate of rent – so worth a mention.
Light it up
If you currently have no tenants, it’s worth getting a timer set up for a lamp or two to come on in the evenings to warn off any loitering thieves or squatter opportunists. Of course, if you’re looking to get tenants in, you can advertise on Rightmove for just £1 with Portico Direct. General kerb appeal and enhancing the exterior of the property is not something that will just attract tenants, it’s also a general update that could enhance the value of your property if you were to sell.
Poor little mice just want somewhere cosy to hibernate but best if they can’t access your well-protected home – seal up any nooks and crannies around the outside of your property that they could burrow through.
Winter winds can really pack a punch so be sure to inspect for the potential threat of damage from any dangerous or overhanging branches or dying trees. Thrown around in storms, these winter hazards can cause significant and expensive damage, never mind the risk of danger to occupants. Fantastic tree trimming & surgeon Pol Bishop highlights the importance to trim back or remove large or overhanging branches and remove rotting bushes or trees entirely. Check for loose fence posts or panels for the same reasons.
Not winter-specific, but while we’re on the subject of making sure you do regular tests on the property’s smoke alarms, don’t forget that any areas with a fireplace (or other solid fuel appliance) require a fitted carbon monoxide alarm – so fit, test and check you’re on top of those safety responsibilities before your tenants start stoking their fires. In this sense, their life is in your hands and failure to ensure all alarms are up to code can attract hefty fines.
Ho ho ho
Santa can’t get down the chimney if it’s full of debris – and more importantly, it’s a fire hazard. Get your chimneys cleaned by a professional chimney sweep.
Check your cover
Make sure your insurance is up to date and that you have all the coverage you need to protect against the more likely winter-related issues that can occur. As mentioned earlier, boilers are common winter problems as are flat roofs that can’t adequately drain off winter rain and snow – so make sure to check for coverage inclusions and don’t skim over the small print.
Enjoy your turkey
The last thing you need on Christmas Day (or over the holidays in general) is an avoidable call out or issue to fix – so go through this list before the winter is in full swing and then, nearer Christmas just touch base to check for spare keys, emergency procedures and anything else that may have cropped up that needs your attention.
Then, having followed these steps, you can slip into your onesie and enjoy these winter months with the peace of mind that you have given your rental the best chance of coming through the winter unscathed.