Residential Landlords Association (RLA)
How to: Prepare your property for winter weather
It has been feeling considerably chilly in some parts of the country this week, and with snow expected in some parts of the country soon, there’s never been a better time to make sure your property is winter ready.
As a landlord, there are things you can do to prepare your property for harsh weather conditions, in order to minimize damage further down the line. It is important to be proactive and make sure your property is in good condition to better withstand the elements.
Here are some things you can do:
- Talk to your tenants With cooler weather on its way, ask your tenants if they are having problems with or have noticed anything the could be cause for concern at the property. Ask about dripping pipes and windows for example.
- Minimize condensation This is a very popular topic over on our Forum at the moment. With temperatures dropping outside and people turning the heating on, there’s a good chance you may notice more condensation in your property. Together with damp, condensation is one of the main reasons that tenants complain to their local council, so its important you know how to reduce this. One of the ways you can do this is to keep surfaces warm. Check out a recent Call of the Week on this topic and how to minimize condensation in your property.
- Make sure you have sufficient outdoor lighting Although it is getting a little lighter earlier in the meetings, the evenings are still quite dark, and it is worthwhile ensuring that your tenants feel safe on dark evenings. Ensure that your front paths are sufficiently lit, making it easier for them to get around. It is also a good idea to check that steps and handrails are in a good condition. Remember, if you are an RLA member you can make the most of your TradePoint discount card on a whole range of items, including outdoor and security lighting. Decking can also become slippy in bad weather.
- Check gutters are clear There has been previous discussion over on our Forum about who is responsible for doing this, and as the landlord it is best if you arrange for the gutters to be checked and cleared of any debris as it is your responsibility to keep the exterior of the property in good repair. Chances are, if there is something blocked in the gutter, your tenants may have told you already, for example they may notice animals in the gutter often. Other signs to look out for are if plants have started to grow in the gutter itself, or more obviously if water can be seen to be spilling over the side of the gutter. It is important to clear this up, as not only could the problem get worse the longer it is left, but you also want to avoid structural damage and damp. Blocked gutters can also freeze over if there is excess water, and cause dangerous patches of ice.
- Coal fire or wood burning stove? Make sure the chimney is swept, and test your carbon monoxide alarm. The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 state PRS landlords must have a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance, eg a coal fire or wood burning stove – and these appliances are likely to be in use during colder weather.
- Check tenants are claiming all the benefits they are entitled to Cold weather can make life much more difficult for vulnerable tenants, such as the elderly and those with disabilities. It’s worthwhile checking that these people are claiming all the benefits they are entitled to, for example they may be eligible for a Winter Fuel Payment which could help them pay the fuel bills in the cooler weather.
- Locate the stopcock If this information isn’t already written down and known by your tenants, when the weather becomes cooler it’s recommended that you make sure your tenants know where the stopcock is as well as how to change the thermostat in the property.
- Remember how important insurance is No matter how well you prepare, problems can and do occur as a result of bad weather so it is vital to make sure you have the appropriate cover for your home and contents. For more information on RLA insurance contact 0333 000 0169 and check out the winter care guide here.
How to deal with broken boilers
- A broken down boiler is the last thing that you or your tenants want-especially at this time of year. But if the worst does happen, if you have a condensing boiler in your property one of the first things to do would be to check the waste pipe. Follow these top tips
How to deal with frozen pipes
When temperatures plummet, the inevitable warnings regarding frozen pipes abound. But what do you do if the worst happens and your pipes freeze? Water company South Staffordshire Water gives this advice:
- If you have no water during a severe frost, check with your neighbours. If they have a supply, your pipes may be frozen.
- Be a good neighbour and check on elderly/less able neighbours and help if necessary.
- Check your pipes for signs of splitting. Remember that if your pipes are damaged, a burst will only become apparent when the frozen water in the pipes thaws and can escape.
- Shut off your internal stop tap and drain your system by flushing the toilet and opening cold taps over sinks/baths etc (Don’t turn on the hot taps as this may cause you further problems if the hot water system is also frozen.)
- Also, switch off the central heating and any water heating appliances (boiler, immersion heater, etc).
- If your pipes are intact, open the taps and thaw the pipes slowly with hot water bottles or heated cloths. Always start thawing the pipe at the end nearest the outlet tap. Never apply a direct flame.
- Once you’ve thawed your pipes and you’re satisfied that no damage is present, and no leakage is occurring, close the taps you have opened and slowly open the stop tap.
- Check your pipes again now that they’re under pressure and only when you’re happy switch on water heating appliances, boilers, immersion heaters etc. Do not do this until you are sure the system has thawed out – after freezing has occurred there is a risk of explosion if heat is suddenly applied.
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