With summer firmly coming to a close behind us, many letting agents are breathing a sigh of relief as another peak season is done and we have lived to tell the tale…well just about anyway! As we all get a little more time to look at the broader picture, now is a good time to start preparing for what the cooler months bring to rental properties. Thankfully rental properties tend to tick over in the spring and summer months, with relatively fewer problems than the rest of the year, boilers are less in use, tenants are on holiday more, but unfortunately that doesn’t prepare properties for the effects of winter.
With winter coming there is no better time to ready your investment than now. A large percentage of landlords fail to carry out regular property checks which, with the harshness of the winter months, can lead to small problems becoming big problems.
A few Top Tips to keep properties ticking along through winter:
Boiler & Heating Checks
Why do boilers only ever go wrong in winter? Good question, but it is inevitable, after months of minimal use through the summer, they then suddenly get put on maximum output as the onslaught of the beast from the east sets in, giving rise to lots of niggles in the system. Schedule annual boiler checks ahead of winter, in early October, to ensure things run smoothly. This also helps you avoid vying for a boiler repair company along with the thousands of others during the peak winter season.
Avoid freezing pipes by making sure tenants leave boilers on a constant low if they go away or leave the property for any length of time.
Make sure gardens are winterised putting tables & chairs away or covering them, ensuring BBQ’s, parasols, soft furnishings are stored away. Cover any precious plants with frost protectors. Water features turned off, including hoses. Tenants can’t be relied upon to do these things, so it is always advisable to check in and get them done.
Lighting & Security Alarms
Make sure any exterior lights are working and dark passageways lit and that communal areas are well illuminated. With the darker evenings your tenants will most likely be leaving and returning in low light, help them feel safe and happy in the property by checking on these things.
If there is a burglar alarm, make sure the tenants have the code. Ensure it is serviced annually and is fully working for them. Giving tenants a feeling of security leads to happier tenants and longer tenancies.
This can be a problem in winter, as tenants’ dry clothes, run hot showers, have the heating on constantly and never open the windows. Encourage tenants to air the property when they can and make sure you have good quality extractors fitted that are working.
Doing regular property checks will help you spot any problems early on.
Be in contact with a handy man you trust and know to work in the area. It’s hard to find a good tradesman, when you need one, so planning ahead can avoid a lot of stress if things go wrong. You don’t need to book him for a job, just make contact and have his number to hand when you need him.
Windows & Doors
This can be a main source of heat loss in a property, forcing a boiler to work harder than needed. Seeing how small improvements can be made can really help to keep cold and damp out, tenants happy and boilers ticking along. Doors can also swell in the damper weather, causing problems with locks. A pre winter annual check will avoid last minute calls from disgruntled tenants struggling with their locks.
Gutters & Drains
Blocked drains and gutters can lead to damp issues inside a property, so making sure these are free of blockages avoids much costlier problems later on
A check towards the end of autumn should see them clear for winter.
This would also be a good time to check for any loose or missing roof tiles, which can also cause leaks to come through in to a property.
Aside from the list above, it is important to carry out regular checks on your investment and checking up before winter sets in is the perfect time to do it to avoid any nasty surprises and big bills caused by the cold, damp weather during the winter months.
With the growing number of legal requirements on property owners and a reduced amount of time landlords have to check up on their properties, a professional property MOT such as the Eclipse Property Health Check report, will tell you what’s happening in there so you can stop the mole hill becoming a mountain. It helps keep landlords legally compliant, aware of maintenance issues and tenanted properties safe.
For further information about any of our inventory services or to book a Property Health Check, get in touch today. To keep up to date with tips and information about protecting your private rental property and the latest news about the London lettings market, follow us on Facebook or LinkedIn.