If the recent drop in temperature is anything to go by, the people of Oxfordshire could be in for another bitter winter. So if you’re a landlord it might be wise to start considering how to prepare your property for the winter months, before your tenants really start feeling the chill. Here are a few tips to get you started…
As the evenings draw in and the temperature drops, it’s a period of change for everyone – not least landlords. So with the colder months approaching, here is a list of checks and tasks all landlords should carry to make sure their properties steer clear of any winter disasters:
1. Give your pipes the once over
Wrap pipes in lagging to keep them frost-free – buy it online for just a few pounds. Not only will lagging stop pipes from freezing, but it will help avoid blockages and burst pipes. If you have any known problem areas, be sure to cover these first (eg, where the pipes run outside or in cold areas such as the garage).
Whether located inside or outside, if you or your tenants notice a frozen pipe, apply warmth to melt the blockage, such as a hot water bottle or a hairdryer, and then apply more preventative measures. If you want complete peace of mind, then our Emergency Repair Service is exclusively available to scottfraser’s Fully Managed landlords – speak to your local branch about the benefits.
2. Show tenants where the stopcock is
Do your tenants know where the stopcock is? If the water in your pipes freezes, pressure can build up behind the blockage and cause them to burst. While this is rare, it’s important your tenants can locate your stopcock to switch off the water mains in an emergency.
The normal hiding place is under the kitchen sink, and a typical stopcock should be turned clockwise to cut supply.
3. Insulate your loft
Loft insulation can make a real difference when it comes to preserving heat in your home. Even if you have insulation, it’s worth checking it’s up to standard.
4. Give your gutters a clear-out
We know it’s not a nice job, but at this time of year, it’s important to make sure your guttering is clear of debris. Once up the ladder, make sure the pipes can efficiently carry water away from your home. This prevents damp from getting into your walls, which can cause costly damage.
5. Seal any draughty areas
If your tenants are feeling the chill from draughts in your home, sealing them is a quick, simple way to stay warm and save money. Check for draughts are around the edges of window frames, gaps under doors, and around the letterbox. Draught excluders are available online, which will block draughts between doors. For windows and other small gaps, just seal the openings to keep the cold out this winter.
6. Give your radiators some TLC
Bleeding a radiator is a simple but effective way to keep your property toasty this winter. If your radiators feel cool at the top and hot at the bottom, it’s likely they need bleeding. Simply release any excess air with a radiator bleeding key and an old towel.
7. Keep your property warm
If the weather gets particularly cold, remind tenants to heat the house for at least an hour every day – even if they’re at work or away over the festive period. Each boiler is different, but tenants can find out how to set the boiler timer with the manual that came with your unit or search for the model’s instructions online.
8. Check the boiler’s pressure
Generally, it should be between one and two bars. You’ll find the pressure gauge on the front of the boiler, or underneath it where the pipes are. It’ll be either a dial or a digital display. If it’s too high or too low, give a Gas Safe engineer a call to make sure the pressure is right.
9. Make sure the property is secure
As the evenings start to draw in – seemingly earlier by the day – it’s important to make sure your property’s security is up to scratch, especially if it’s empty between tenancies or while your tenants are away over Christmas.
Make sure your tenants leave your home looking occupied. Setting the heating to come on regularly each day will help to prevent pipes from freezing, while scheduling a lamp or two to come on with a timer will help to deter any potential thieves or squatters.
10. Test all your alarms
Burglaries spike by more than a third during daylight savings time claims Co-op Insurance. If you’re lucky enough to have CCTV or a house alarm already, make sure both have been properly serviced and maintained so they work correctly. This is especially important if your property is unoccupied or located in a remote area.
Believe it or not, Christmas Day sees the sharpest increase in fire-related insurance claims – so make sure your rental property is kitted out with at least one fire alarm on each storey, plus a carbon monoxide alarm for extra measure.
Looking after your rental property over Christmas
While we’re on the subject of Christmas, if you’re a Tenant Find or Rent Collection landlord with scottfraser, it’s a good idea to check in with your tenants in the weeks running up to Christmas. Test everything is working as it should and that your tenants are happy and prepared for the festive period.
Establish in writing the procedure you wish your tenants to follow in the case of an emergency, and check they have spare keys, to save you any Christmas Day dramas. However, if you use scottfraser’s Fully Managed service, our team of Property Managers will do all of this on your behalf.
If you’re currently managing your own rental property and work like further information on how scottfraser could help you manage it for you over the winter months, contact your local branch.