5 property checks before autumn and winter hit
Keep your tenants safe, and protect your property before winter arrives.
Autumn and winter typically come with increased risk to your property as weather conditions can become more extreme. Strong winds can cause havoc with flying debris and loose roof tiles, and higher levels of rainfall can result in leaks and flooding. Add frost to the mix, and pipes can freeze and burst if not insulated properly. All in all, there's lots to be done if you want to keep your tenants and your property safe this winter.
We’ve identified the top five areas you should check in your property to make sure they’re in good working order and ready for the winter.
Despite rising energy bills, your tenants are still likely to use the heating regularly throughout the winter, so the boiler will be working hard during this time.
Boilers require constant water pressure in order to function, so a drop in pressure (which is common during the winter months) can cause it to cut out until it has been topped back up again. If tenants start fiddling with the mechanics and don’t know what they’re doing, there’s a distinct chance that the boiler will stop working and you’ll get a panicked phone call.
It’s hard enough to get hold of a good plumber at any time, but over the winter it’s almost impossible because they’re usually overloaded with call outs. Prevention is often the best cure, so book an appointment now, well ahead of time, and have your annual gas safety check carried out.
Visit the property (if you don’t use agents for full management) to ensure tenants know how to use the system properly and are keeping the property warm enough to avoid any issues with damp.
2. Electrical systems
Although there is currently no legal requirement to have electrics checked annually, as there is with gas systems, there is an obligation, as a landlord, to ensure the system is safe.
Hire a Part-P qualified electrician to carry out an annual PAT on all portable electrical appliances, such as fridges and washing machines. It’s also worth having a full domestic electrical installation check every three years, which gives you a certificate to confirm the system meets safety standards.
As with your gas safety check, try to book this in each year around September/October, so that it’s up-to-date ahead of the bad weather.
3. Fire safety systems
It’s essential to check your fire safety systems as storms and flooding can cause electrics to fuse and spark, which may lead to fires breaking out in your property.s.
Put fresh batteries in smoke alarms and heat sensors, test interlinked and hard-wired systems, and check that fire door closures are working properly.
It’s also a good idea to ensure your tenants are clear on the procedure in case of a fire, and remind them not to prop open fire doors or block any exits.
4. Door and window seals and closures
Heavy rain will find any hole or gap in your property, and if the seals on your doors and windows have failed or are missing, your tenants are likely to find water coming in.
Similarly, strong winds will easily catch a window or door that isn’t closed properly and either damage it or rip it off completely – this is a particular danger with windows. Ask your agent to make the appropriate checks when doing their periodic visits, or go round and check that they can all be shut tightly and securely and replace any seals that look to be failing.
5. Drainage outlets
If rainwater and melting snow builds up around your property, it can permeate and cause damp on the inside, and in the worst cases, even pooling and flooding. This will damage any furnishings and possessions and can affect the electrical system, so it’s vital you do all you can to ensure the building stays dry and watertight.
Have all the drains, downpipes, and guttering cleared of leaves and debris, and make sure the joints are intact so that water isn’t running down the building itself. This is something that should be done at least twice a year.
Finally, check your buildings insurance policy to make sure you’ve complied with all your obligations to minimise potential hazards. That way, if the worst happens and you need to make a claim, you can be confident you’re fully covered.
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