With winter around the corner, it’s a good time for landlords to prepare for the risks that the colder months can bring. 
Taking time to draw up a to-do list for yourself and your tenants may help to ensure you have a trouble-free winter. Here are our tips from the Coast and County team to help tenants and landlords keep your property safe and in good condition. 
Making preparations in advance: 
There are certain steps you can take to help avoid issues that are more prevalent in winter. With the cooperation of your tenants, you can be prepared if something does go wrong in the winter months. 
Encourage tenants to report problems 
Ask them to flag any issues with the property as soon as they notice something isn’t right. Even if it’s the slightest drip or smallest crack, such issues can get worse if left, and if unmonitored, might not be caught until the damage has already been done. 
Keep contact details up-to-date with tenants 
Make sure you have a way to contact your tenants to let them know if you need to visit the property or send a professional for maintenance or repair work. They should also have up-to-date contact details for you. If you plan on going away, provide them with notice, so they will know if you’ll be unreachable. 
Avoiding frozen pipes 
During very cold weather, the risk of frozen and burst pipes can increase. The water in pipes can freeze, which might then expand. This can cause a build-up of pressure that can rupture a pipe, leading to water damage in the property. 
Locating the stopcock 
To help reduce the risk of frozen pipes this winter, make sure your tenants know where the stopcock is that will turn off the incoming water supply. 
Keep the property suitably heated 
You may have included a clause in your tenancy agreement that requires tenants to adequately heat the house throughout the winter months. Remind them of this condition and of which months it applies to. This can help to avoid issues such as mould as well. 
If your tenants go away, remember to check your property insurance policy for a heating clause that may come into effect at this time of year. It can also be worth checking how well the property is insulated. Suitable pipe and water tank insulation can help to prevent freezing. 
Preparing for bad weather 
Storms can be common at this time of year and can pose a threat to your property at their most severe. Landlords should keep the property well maintained all year round, but this is particularly vital ahead of winter to help protect it against strong wind and rain. 
Check the external condition of the property 
Ask tenants to keep an eye on the outside of their home. If they notice any leaking drainpipes, they may need attention to avoid potential water damage. Gutters may also need clearing of fallen leaves or fixing from damage caused by high winds at this time of year. 
Schedule an inspection to check the outside of the property and look for areas that need attention, such as broken or blocked guttering, overgrown vegetation, and rotting or cracked window frames. 
What to do if there’s a storm 
If a storm is forecasted, advise your tenants to keep all windows and doors shut and store away garden furniture and other unsecured items such as plant pots from around the property. If they are going away, ask them to ensure the property is secured against bad weather before they leave. 
Going away for the holiday season: 
Your tenants may go away on holiday, which can expose the property to risks that are more prevalent for unoccupied properties. You landlord insurance policy might not provide cover or may be restricted if the property is unoccupied for more than 30 days in a row. Check your policy documents for empty or unoccupied clauses. 
Ask tenants to let you know if they are going away 
If your tenants plan on going away for a while, they should let you know when your property will be empty. Prior notice can help you to take the necessary steps to ensure you don’t invalidate your landlord insurance policy. 
Secure the property when it’s empty 
Ensure your tenants are aware of their responsibilities when they go away. Doors and windows should be closed and securely locked, and all valuables should be stored out of sight. 
Set up ways to make the home look occupied 
If there is smart technology in the property that allows your tenants to control the lights from wherever they are, they can use that to make it appear as though someone is home. Individual light timers and television simulator lights can also work as a deterrent. 
Turn off the water supply 
To help avoid escape of water issues, ask your tenants to turn the water supply off at the mains before they go away. It may be a condition of your landlord insurance policy that this is done when tenants are away from the property. 
Pre-emptively protecting your property: 
As well as providing a winter checklist for your tenants, there are steps you can take as a landlord to help keep your property safe. 
Periodic inspections throughout the year can allow you to keep an eye on any possible maintenance issues that may develop. It’s also worth checking your landlord insurance for any conditions that require you to perform regular inspections for the cover to be valid. Keep a record of these checks in case you have to provide evidence upon making a claim. Remember to provide 24 hours’ notice to your tenants and to only visit at a reasonable time of day. 
If the above is something you struggle with, please feel free to click onto the coast and county Lettings team. 
At Coast and County we save our clients Tax, Time and Money. 
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