How to keep your property healthy and your tenant onside
Weather forecasters at the BBC are warning we should all be prepared for a harsh winter. The NHS is gearing up for another season of record numbers of flu cases. Buy-to-let landlords should act now to protect their investment from suffering major maintenance issues during the winter months.
In this article, you’ll learn our top seven tips on how to prepare your buy-to-let property for winter. These simple checks should help you avoid costly repair bills in the future. They will also help you to retain happy tenants.
Do you carry out winter checks?
A recent survey of more than 4,000 landlords discovered that almost half (48%) made no checks to prepare their properties for the winter. If you don’t invest a little time and money on property preparation now, you risk small problems becoming major issues. It could lead to a hit on your cash flow not only with expensive maintenance bills but also with unhappy tenants moving and leaving you with a void period you could have avoided.
Even those landlords that do carry out winter checks often don’t go far enough. They have heating boilers checked and serviced, but most forget to have pipework and radiators checked. Only half clear guttering, and just a quarter check roofs.
Seven essential winter maintenance checks
1. Service the heating boiler
If your property has a gas boiler, you should ensure that it’s in good working order and has a valid gas safety certificate. Now is the perfect time to do so. It’s going to come under a lot of strain as your tenants call on it to provide the heat and hot water they need through the cold months.
2. Check pipes and radiators
Unlagged pipes are prone to freeze and burst. Makes sure that all pipes are lagged properly. It doesn’t cost a lot but could save a very expensive repair bill. If any pipes are cracked, make sure they are repaired or replaced immediately.
Good insulation will help to keep your tenants warm and reduce their heating bills. Your tenants will be happy, and it will help your buy-to-let property pass the minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES). If it doesn’t, you could be fined up to £150,000.
While you’re checking your insulation, inspect your doors and windows and ensure they are properly insulated and gaps made airtight with draft excluders.
4. Clear the gutters and check the roof
Gutters need to be cleared of autumn leaves and other debris before water accumulates and ice forms. Gutters and downpipes are highly susceptible to cracking in the winter. While checking gutters, make sure that you also inspect the roof for cracks or missing tiles, and replace where necessary. You certainly don’t want leaks during winter storms.
5. Don’t forget to check outside your property
The outside of your property is just as important as the inside. It’s all part of your tenant’s home. Here are three things to do outside, after you’ve checked gutters and roofs:
- Make sure that all security lights work, and leave a spare bulb for the tenant to use if needed
- Repair cracks in pavements and patios
- Lag all external water pipes
6. If your property is empty, take extra care
An empty property is more prone to problems caused by cold, damp weather. If your property is empty for any reason, maintenance issues are harder to identify – you don’t have a tenant to spot and report them. Empty properties should be inspected regularly, and especially during winter months.
7. Educate your tenants
In one of our recent blogs, we discussed how to teach your tenants to be good tenants. Ahead of winter is the perfect time to remind tenants of their responsibilities, and to show that you’re a collaborative, not a dictatorial landlord.
Your tenant is essential to protecting your investment. Help them do so by providing a pack with boiler and heating system manuals, the location of all stopcocks, and emergency numbers should they need to report any maintenance issues.
Be a good landlord and avoid winter woes
Making sure that your boilers, radiators and pipes are all in good order will help your tenants realise that you are a great landlord. Taking these simple precautions, and with your tenant onside, your maintenance bills should be lower, and there will be less likelihood of a small issue becoming an expensive problem.
These are the types of checks and precautions that benefit our landlord clients. To make sure your property is fit for winter, contact one of the Ezytrac team today on +44 01522 503 717.
Yours in effortless property management,
Brett Alegre-Wood MARLA MNAEA