Lettings agents’ group ARLA Propertymark has issued a seven point guide for landlords as winter approaches.
The guide ensures the points are Covid-secure, and are:
1. Clear out the gutters: Falling leaves may look picturesque, but they can cause big problems if left untouched in your gutter. Frozen water, heavy leaves and blockages can all lead to leaks and water damage or even broken gutters, so it’s important to keep them clear from any debris to minimise the risk.
2. Keep it breezy: When it’s cold or wet outside, windows usually stay shut; however, this can lead to condensation in your property which can cause damp. You should speak to and educate your tenants on the issue and encourage them to open windows in particularly humid areas such as the kitchen and bathroom. You can also help by ensuring extractor fans are working properly in these areas.
3. Bleed the radiators: If your tenants are feeling cold despite having the heating on, it could mean that the radiators need bleeding. Bleeding the radiators doesn’t need to be a big job and it will make sure the pipes in your property are being heated properly when the temperature drops. The best thing to do is to speak to your tenants and explain that this will keep them warmer too! Alternatively, if local restrictions permit it, you can go to your property and bleed the radiators yourself. Remember to speak to your tenants before visiting to make sure that they are not shielding, self-isolating and do not have any symptoms of COVID-19. It’s also important to remember to socially distance and wear a mask to protect them once inside the property.
4. Trip Hazards: Wet and cold weather leads to slippery drives and icey steps, but this can also lead to cracks in pathways which may cause tenants to trip and fall. In order to prevent this, it’s best to stay on top of any existing cracks from small to large and either get someone professional to fix them or clear the debris and fill them yourself.
5. 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, especially as many will be working from their homes, so it could be worth getting an extra service. As long as your tenant is not self-isolating, they can allow a plumber into the property to check the boiler works efficiently which will keep them warm and your property in good condition.
6. Safety first: With long dark nights drawing in, it’s worth double checking that the burglar alarm and security lights are working in your property. Tenants might not be out and about as much as expected due to social distancing restrictions, but with less natural light, a visible alarm can still be a good deterrent. You may also want to consider chatting to your tenants to make sure they don’t leave expensive items on display which could attract thieves when they are out the property.
7. Insurance: Even with all of these checks, things can still go wrong particularly if the weather really takes a turn, so you should ensure your current home insurance is up to date and check the policy gives sufficient protection for any weather-related damage particularly to your boiler and roof.