Author : Mary-Anne Bowring
The Beast from the East is so last year. Instead, for 2019 we have the Polar Vortex! This sounds absolutely terrifying but in fact it is just another spell of very cold weather which is predicted to hit us in a week or two. For landlords, this is the time of year when tenants are most likely to start complaining about faulty boilers and central heating systems. And if you're not vigilant, you could even find yourself facing insurance claims for leaking roofs and damage caused by blocked gutters.
So before you do anything else, check that your landlord insurance is up-to-date and that you have enough cover. Then, should the worse happen, at least you can be sure that any claims will be dealt with as quickly and efficiently as possible.
One of the most common boiler-related problems in winter is frozen pipes. According to Direct Line, there has been an increase in insurance claims for faulty boilers in recent years and with temperatures expected to plummet towards the end of the month, insurers are predicting the record for boiler claims could be broken again this winter.
Here are a few quick and simple tips. Ensure you have the boilers in your properties serviced regularly; bleed the radiators on a regular basis to keep the system working efficiently and ask tenants to keep the heating on low in very cold weather to help prevent external condensate pipes from freezing. Insulating the pipe also helps. If you have properties standing empty, unless the water system has been drained and utilities switched off, it is worth keeping the heating ticking over at a low level to prevent frozen or burst pipes. If you have a maintenance contract in place, your contractor should cover all these issues but it?s still worth talking to them to make sure this is the case. We can help you find maintenance suppliers if you don?t have a service contract and feel you would benefit from one.
Roofs and guttering are also very susceptible to damage in winter storms and a little preventative maintenance goes a long way. Look out for broken tiles, any issues with pointing and rendering, and cracks in chimney stacks. Any of these problems should be tackled straight away. Every time we experience heavy rain, strong winds or snow, landlords who haven?t bothered to keep on top of maintenance at their properties end up having to deal with costly leaks and damaged roofs which can also lead to the need for extensive - and expensive - internal and external repairs, to say nothing of angry tenants.
And don?t forget the guttering. Faulty, blocked or broken guttering will not direct water away from the external walls of your property and, again, can cause hundreds or even thousands of pounds worth of damage. So do make sure that gutters are checked regularly to ensure they are free of leaves, moss and other debris, and that any missing guttering and end caps are replaced.
Also, don?t forget to talk to your tenants. Make sure they know how to find the stopcock in case they need to turn off the water supply if there?s a leak and know how to contact their property manager in an emergency.
And finally ? talk to us. If you need any help with winter maintenance issues, we are only ever a phone call away.
Mary-Anne Bowring FIRPM FRICS FARLA FCABE Founder/Head of Asset Management
Strategic partnerships, holistic delivery/ opportunities, growth, value engineering, thought leadership
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