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The Simple Landlords guide to getting ready for Winter

Wind-battered fences, frozen pipes, broken boilers and leaking roofs – winter can be a miserable time for property owners, as the cold and bad weather wreak havoc on buildings.

Every winter at Simple Landlords Insurance, we see hundreds of landlords who unfortunately find themselves caught out by the cold and making a claim. Burst pipes caused by frozen water is the number one issue we see, and accounts for one fifth of landlord insurance claims.

In our experience, much of that damage could be prevented - and a well-maintained property stands a much better chance of squaring up to mother nature than one in need of repairs.

So here’s our Guide to getting you - and your tenants - ready for Winter...

Prepare your property

Check your roof

  • Get a builder in to give your roof an inspection every year - they can make sure the tiles are in good shape, and that everything’s water tight.
  • Get any cracked tiles or other issues fixed fast - it will save you money in the long run.

Keep warm

  • Check what insulation you have and what else you could do to keep your tenants warm, and chances of cold-related damage to a minimum.
  • Bleed radiators and make sure your boiler is in good working order.
  • Your boiler is going to get a proper workout this Winter - get it serviced now by a Gas Safe engineer. They should check all gas appliances in the property, and provide certificates for your records.

Protect your pipes

  • You can also do all you can to protect your pipes. Make sure external pipes and pipes in the loft are insulated - checking everything is properly connected and there are no cracks or existing damage

Unblock gutters and drains

  • Blocked gutters can cause a whole host of problems for your property, like rot, penetrating damp and damage to the foundation caused by water running down external walls. Make sure they’re clear of leaves, moss and other debris.
  • When the snow melts, there’s going to be a lot of water around. Make sure your drains are ready to do their job!

Check the garden

  • Keep trees near to your property well trimmed and maintained.
  • Check fence panels and put away garden furniture and children’s play equipment so it won’t get picked up by strong winds and damage your property.

Check your insurance policy

  • Make sure your policy is in order and up to date. If you live far away, you might consider adding home emergency cover to your policy so things can get sorted out fast if you can’t get there.

Inspect for damage

  • It’s well worth checking your property after a storm, heavy snowfall or hail to check for damage to the roof, windows, external pipes and outbuildings.
  • Look out for mould. During winter, damp and mould can get worse because of condensation caused by things like heated rooms with poor ventilation, or clothes being dried on radiators.

Prepare your tenants

Keeping warm

  • Ask your tenants to keep the heating on low - even when they’re out for the day or going away on holiday. Freezing water in pipes can expand and crack them and cause a leak.
  • If your tenants do find a leak, make sure they know where the stop cock is to prevent further damage!
  • Ask tenants to shut curtains and keep internal doors open so the heat can circulate.

Staying safe

  • Make sure your tenants know who is responsible for clearing paths of snow and ice. You may wish to provide a snow shovel and salt to help.
  • Remind tenants about fire safety - no unattended Christmas candles, put fairy lights on a timer so they’re not on overnight, and no overloaded extension cables.
  • You should also check your smoke alarms, and other fire safety equipment - or ask your tenants to do so.
  • Make sure tenants are not using any extra heating appliances that haven’t been provided by you and PAT tested.

Checking security

  • Remind tenants to close curtains so everything isn’t on display.
  • Install external lights and motion sensors, and check they’re working.
  • Ask tenants to let you know if they are going away, and provide light timers so they can set them when they’re away or going to be late home.
  • Check window and door locks for wear and tear, and to make sure they’re actually being used. If you’ve got an alarm, check that’s working (and being used) too!

Maintenance

  • Ask your tenants to keep an eye out for damage to your property - and let you know immediately if they see any loose tiles, broken tree branches, or telltale signs of a leak.
  • Make sure your tenants know how to reduce damp and condensation over winter.
  • If there’s an emergency, make sure your tenants know who to call to get it sorted out.

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