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Winter is Coming...Is your investment property prepared?

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Game of Thrones' Ned Stark had bigger worries than his pipes freezing but have you checked yours???

It’s always better to prevent things from happening rather than fixing things when they go wrong. After all, as a landlord you want to avoid eye-watering repair bills. So how can you prepare your property for winter to stop burst pipes, damp and flooding?

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Service the Boiler

Get a Gas Safe registered engineer to service the boiler and other gas appliances. You need to have Gas Safety checks done once a year by law, so why not schedule these in before the winter sets in? Getting the heating system checked out will help prevent any break-downs and expensive call outs during the coldest days – heating engineers get booked up quickly when it gets cold, so a small problem with a boiler could turn into a monstrosity while you wait for it to be fixed.

Check the Pipes

Burst and frozen pipes are a huge problem as it gets colder. Whilst your Gas Safe engineer is servicing your boiler, get all the pipework checked, and if there is risk of the pipes freezing, for example they are outside or in the attic, it is worth applying insulation or lagging for extra protection.

Extra Insulation

There’s no two ways about it, extra insulation and draft proofing will warm your tenants hearts, keep them and the property cosy and even boost your EPC figures and property value. Normally places like Wickes and B&Q will have offers on loft insulation, resulting in a quick and easy fix.

Outside

Never neglect the outside of your property. Whilst it may be the tenants’ responsibility to check things like the guttering, it is worth getting someone to look over the roof, brickwork and the driveway (if you have one). Repair any cracks in mortar, fix any broken roof tiles and clear the gutters if your tenants haven’t already done this. This will make sure no water can get into gaps and the gutters don’t overflow and cause problems. The last thing you need is moisture leaking into the property and causing damage.

If trees have started to overgrow, make sure they are trimmed back to stop falling branches causing damage to the property and to help prevent leaves blocking drains and causing flooding. Normally your tenant should be able to let you know if there is a problem, but having a professional tree surgeon out to neaten things up and potentially look over the garden once a year before the winter sets in would be worth it.

Informing Your Tenants

Make sure you inform the tenants of any work that is going to be taking place at the property and what they can expect when the engineer or workman shows up. Let the tenants know where they can find the stop cock to turn off the water if they find a leak, and that having the heating on low if the house is left empty will help prevent frozen pipes. To prevent damp, make sure the tenants know to crack open a window whilst cooking, after having a bath or shower or airing clothes inside. Damp is a huge problem during winter, and is normally caused by poor ventilation, so don’t forget to mention this when you speak to them.

If you are a landlord and you are managing the property yourself, always make sure your tenant has the Government ‘How to Rent’ guide to hand (this is law for any tenancies starting after 1 October 2015) – we also advise giving them an information pack that details everything they will need to know about the property, for example, stop cock location. This can be really useful for the tenant and could help prevent unnecessary damage.

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