Prepare for the worst, hope for the best
Winter is coming. With natural disasters ranging from tornados to floods, from severe snow storms to more floods, savvy buy-to-let property landlords have already started winter-proofing their properties. If recent history is anything to go by, we’re almost bound to suffer a natural disaster.
TheAssociation of British Insurers (ABI) estimated a total of £1.3 billion in cost for the 2015/16 winter floods. At least 3,000 families rehoused (at least temporarily) and flooded homes around 16,000. The average insurance claim was £50,000, way above the average cost of the winter storms of 2013/14. However, the total cost was well below the £3 billion of damage caused by storms in 2007.
In this post, I’ll look at how you can warm up for winter and help protect your property from damage.
Could this winter be as bad as others for the buy-to-let property landlord?
Whether our recent history of disastrous winter weather is due to global warming or something different entirely, the indisputable fact is that widespread damage because of weather phenomena has become expected.
Extreme weather conditions in the UK used to be a once-in-a-blue-moon occurrence. Now it’s almost an annual event. Since 1987, weird (and damaging) weather has included:
- 1987 – The Great Storm of October
- 1990 – The Winter Chill, which lasted from December 1990 to February 1991
- 2000 – The Autumn Floods
- 2006 – The London Tornado
- 2009 – The November/December Floods followed by the Winter Chill
- 2013 – The St Jude Storm, Cyclone Xaver and The Winter Storms, which lasted through to 2014
- 2015 – The Winter Flooding, which carried on through the first few weeks of 2016
Although weather forecasters in the UK are notoriously poor at getting it right, this winter is forecasted as an extra cold one thanks to the effects of La Niña.
How the buy-to-let landlord can prepare for the worst and hope for the best
There are some things that you should be doing as a landlord as we make the transition from summer to winter through autumn. Your properties, and your investment could depend on the actions you take now in preparation for another winter of weird weather. Here are the measures you should be taking over the next few weeks:
- Check that your insurance policies are up to date, and read the small print carefully. The financial ombudsman has received hundreds of complaints about insurers not paying out on claims after flooding. After the 2014 floods, an estimattion that a quarter of homeowners’ policies could face non-payment of claims because of a ‘groundwater flooding’ clause.
- Do a check of all your properties’ essential amenities. Check and repair/replace lagging on water pipes and insulation in lofts. Get the central heating services, and fixing roof tiles firmly.
- Reconnect with local tradesmen. Make sure you have the right number in case of emergency, and check and confirm rates for call-outs and emergency work.
- If any of your properties are in floodplains, then make sure that the tenant has sandbags at the ready.
- In the garden, make sure that fencing, gates and external buildings are secure and as ‘wind-proof’ as possible.
Be prepared and protect your property investment
Prepare your properties for winter. Don’t rely on insurers to do the honourable thing and pay out on any claim. Prepare your property as best you can. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Contact us today, either by phone +44 1522 503 717 or via our online contact form, and we’ll be happy to discuss other measures that could help your buy-to-let portfolio survive winter unscathed.
Brett Alegre-Wood MARLA MNAEA