OK, Winter in Westeros already came, but having already scraped the ice off my car this month we can safely say that Winter is upon us. Therefore, it is time to start thinking about conducting a Winter health-check on your property. As a result of preparing for potential Winter emergencies you could save yourself any nasty surprises in unexpected bills.
If your property is tenanted there is only so much you can do yourself. Other tasks can be carried out by your tenants, and you can always give them advice for property maintenance. Importantly, this is one of the great benefits of using an agent with a property management department as they can sort any actions out on your behalf.
A visual check of the outside of the property is a good first step.
Are there any broken tiles on the roofs that could cause a potential leak? If you let a property without access to the loft this is a very important consideration as no doubt a tenant will not have noticed this from the inside.
Are the fences solid and secure? Winter weather often means strong winds and fixing a fence panel is much more cost effective than having to replace one.
The doom of a broken boiler hangs heavy over any landlord’s head in the Winter season. Replacement can be costly as well as inconvenient to the residents. Leaving the heating on a low ambient temperature of around 15°C is advisable. This should prevent any issues caused by frozen pipes. Furthermore, if the property is to be left unattended for a short time it is actually better to leave doors ajar thereby allowing the warm air to circulate. This also helps stop condensation issues.
Could you ask your tenant to do a proactive boiler test? After being inactive for a long period of time, it might need a service or at least checking. The pressure of a combination boiler should be set at between 1.5 and 2.0 bar. If your tenants are not comfortable doing this then the property management team should be able to talk them through this important check.
Even though the tenants have a lot of responsibility for the property throughout their tenancy, don’t assume they are aware of how to prevent problems, or even what they should be looking out for.
There are regulations regarding the amount of notice that must be given to tenants before you can enter the property to carry out these checks or remedial works. If you are trying to fit this around your work commitments it may be a worthy consideration to use a property management service that no doubt will be offered by your letting agent. This way, you can carry on with making sure your own residence is Winter-ready and be confident that your other properties are being looked after by people who have many years of experience dealing with typical emergencies and issues.