It’s official: winter is coming. This makes now the perfect time to prepare your rental property for the colder weather (yes, it can get colder), so Just Landlords, a provider of 5 Star rated Landlord Insurance, has some top tips for landlords.
Winter can be a costly time for landlords if they don’t prepare their properties early – with cold, miserable weather comes burst pipes, damp and loose roof tiles (to name just a few issues that you could face). To prevent expensive repairs, start with some simple maintenance that could save you in the long run…
Lag the pipes
We’ll start with a really easy one – pipe lagging, which basically means insulating your hot water pipes with foam tubes, keeps the water inside the pipes hotter for longer and protects against the cold. This will prevent them bursting if the water freezes up.
It will also make the heating and hot water much more efficient, which your tenants will thank you for. What’s more, you can buy pipe lagging from your local DIY store and fit it in seconds.
Check for gaps
Finding gaps in your roof now is much better than uncovering them later – if you reveal a broken or fallen roof tile, it will be fairly cheap and easy to arrange a repair. If you don’t find them now, you could be left with very expensive damage over the winter months.
Arrange a periodic inspection with your tenant and check both the interior and exterior of the property thoroughly – this means going into the loft, shining a torch and looking out for gaps; you’ll thank us!
Get the right insulation
If you haven’t given much thought to your property’s insulation before, then now’s the time. Not only will this help to keep the home warm when the bitter cold chills of winter inevitably arrive, but it will also help you comply with new Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) from the Government.
From April 2018, it will be illegal to grant a new lease on a property with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating below E (F or G), so improvements must be made now. The right insulation will help to improve your EPC rating.
Keep the heating on
Your tenants will likely have put their heating on by now, but if they haven’t, or if your property is unoccupied, it’s important to keep the heating on a low level – we advise around 15°C – constantly.
If your tenants are going to be away at all over the winter period, then ask them to leave the heating on at this temperature whilst they’re not at home. It’s also wise to ask them whether you can visit the property regularly to keep an eye on it.
Again, this is another measure that will help you comply with the Government’s MEES – double-glazing can make all the difference in keeping the warmth inside your property and making it more energy efficient.
If you don’t have double-glazing, your current tenants are sure to appreciate it, while it will also help market your property more effectively in the future, as well as improving the EPC rating – tick, tick, tick!
Bleed the radiators
All landlords should write a memo to do this at the beginning of winter. On your periodic inspection, check that all radiators are heating to the top, to ensure that they’re working efficiently.
If they aren’t, you will likely need to bleed them, which simply means releasing the trapped air at the top, which is stopping the hot water from rising. Radiator bleed keys cost about £1, so it’s a relatively easy task.
Think about a new boiler
Yes, a new boiler is expensive, but you have to think carefully about your return on investment. If your current boiler isn’t very efficient, you may need to replace it to comply with the new MEES. Now would be the perfect time to do this anyway, but, being winter, it will also benefit your tenants.
Even if you have a new boiler, book it in for its annual boiler service with a Gas Safe registered engineer. This will ensure that it’s working as it should be and keeping your property nice and warm.
Winter can leave your property in a bad state if you don’t look after it – by following these top tips, you will ensure that the warmth stays in and Jack Frost leaves himself rightfully outside.