Written by Victoria Barker of the RLA – 23rd October 2018
It has been an unusually warm October, but that looks set to change this weekend with the Met Office reporting that temperatures will dip to single figures this weekend.
With cool Arctic air on its way and the clocks going back next weekend marking the end of British Summer Time, now is a good time to start thinking about making sure your home is prepared for the winter weather. While snow flurries may not be imminent just yet, making sure you are prepared now could save you money in the long run on expensive repair work, so it is recommended that you inspect the property. Here are EIGHT top tips to get you started.
- Talk to your tenants With cooler weather on its way, ask your tenants if they are having problems with or have noticed anything the could be cause for concern at the property. Ask about dripping pipes and windows for example.
- Minimize condensation This is a very popular topic over on our Forum at the moment. With temperatures dropping outside and people turning the heating on, there’s a good chance you may notice more condensation in your property. Together with damp, condensation is one of the main reasons that tenants complain to their local council, so its important you know how to reduce this. One of the ways you can do this is to keep surfaces warm. Check out a recent Call of the Week on this topic and how to minimize condensation in your property.
- Make sure you have sufficient outdoor lighting With the clocks going back this weekend, it’ll be darker much earlier in the evenings, and it is worthwhile ensuring that your tenants feel safe on dark evenings by ensuring front paths are sufficiently lit, making it easier for them to get around. It is also a good idea to check that steps and handrails are in a good condition. Remember, if you are an RLA member you can make the most of your TradePoint discount card on a whole range of items, including outdoor and security lighting. Decking can also become slippy in bad weather.
- Check gutters are clear There has been previous discussion over on our Forum about who is responsible for doing this, and as the landlord it is best if you arrange for the gutters to be checked and cleared of any debris as it is your responsibility to keep the exterior of the property in good repair. Chances are, if there is something blocked in the gutter, your tenants may have told you already, for example they may notice animals in the gutter often. Other signs to look out for are if plants have started to grow in the gutter itself, or more obviously if water can be seen to be spilling over the side of the gutter. It is important to clear this up, as not only could the problem get worse the longer it is left, but you also want to avoid structural damage and damp. Blocked gutters can also freeze over if there is excess water, and cause dangerous patches of ice.
- Coal fire or wood burning stove? Make sure the chimney is swept, and test your carbon monoxide alarm. The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 state PRS landlords must have a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance, eg a coal fire or wood burning stove – and these appliances are likely to be in use during colder weather.
- Check tenants are claiming all the benefits they are entitled to Cold weather can make life much more difficult for vulnerable tenants, such as the elderly and those with disabilities. It’s worthwhile checking that these people are claiming all the benefits they are entitled to, for example they may be eligible for a Winter Fuel Payment which could help them pay the fuel bills in the cooler weather.
- Locate the stopcock If this information isn’t already written down and known by your tenants, when the weather becomes cooler it’s recommended that you make sure your tenants know where the stopcock is as well as how to change the thermostat in the property.
- Remember how important insurance is No matter how well you prepare, problems can and do occur as a result of bad weather so it is vital to make sure you have the appropriate cover for your home and contents. For more information on RLA insurance contact 0333 000 0169 and check out the winter care guide here.