Wasim Bux is the Product Manager at home insurance provider iGO4. Here, he shares four important winter safety tips you should pass on to your tenants this winter.
It’s no secret that the British winter can bring some harsh weather, and for landlords of rental properties, this can cause some problems for both themselves and the tenants. With risks of frozen pipes, roof leaks and an increase in the amount of burglaries over the festive period, there’s plenty you should be telling your tenants to look out for through the season.
To help you, I’ll be sharing four winter safety tips to ensure your tenants and property are well looked after.
Advise how they can beat the winter weather
With increased rainfall, sleet, snow and gale-force winds, the winter weather can wreak havoc on both the interior and exterior of your property including the roof, pipes and ceilings. So, it’s a good idea to give your tenants a forewarning about what problems the weather could bring and how to deal with these. Although they’ll no doubt have their heating on during the colder months, winter and especially Christmas is a time where your tenants are likely to be out of their homes for prolonged periods. To prevent your property’s pipes freezing and bursting, you should advise your tenants to set the heating for a couple of hours each day, even when they’re away.
You should also ensure that they’re checking their ceilings and the exterior of the house for any signs of damage, freezing or leaks after harsh weather conditions like high winds and hailstorms.
Be clear about what your insurance policy covers
If you’re already a landlord of a furnished or part-furnished property, you’re bound to have landlord’s content insurance to protect any furniture or appliances that you’ve provided. However, some tenants might not know that this doesn’t cover their own possessions. As well as informing them of this in the tenancy agreement, it’ll be a good idea to remind them of this prior to any upcoming holidays or through the festive season. There’s increased theft over the Christmas period including the months leading up to the big day (UK Crime Stats), so make sure your tenants are staying vigilant. If they have a tree up in front of the window, I’d suggest advising them not to leave any presents on show.
Recommend precautions they can take while away
Many tenants will leave properties unattended over the winter period to go and visit friends and family, particularly if they’re students or have moved cities. Burglars will take opportunities to target places which look uninhabited, so it’s worth letting your tenants know what measures they can take to deter these criminals and make it look as though someone’s around.
Asking them to put their lamps on timers is likely to put opportunistic burglars off, as will signage warning of CCTV. Don’t be afraid to remind them to check all windows, doors and gates are locked before leaving, and that the security alarms work — they’re sure to appreciate the concern!
Tell them what they can do in the case of emergencies
Despite taking the necessary precautions, some things are completely unpredictable, and you can’t always be around to solve your tenant’s problems. However, giving them contact numbers and instructions for what to do in an emergency will certainly give you both better peace of mind.
As previously mentioned, there are plenty of issues that can arise from harsh weather conditions including plumbing problems. To help your tenants deal with this, inform them where the stopcock is as this will mean they can turn the mains water supply off in the case of leaks. Additionally, they’ll need to know where the fuse box is and how to reset it in the case of any blown fuses. Condensation is also bound to be a big issue in the winter, and can cause damp and mould which will damage paintwork, as well as fittings. To deter this from happening, advise them to leave trickle vents open, or to leave their windows open now and again to allow ventilation.
Winter can be a challenging time for you as a landlord, with harsh weather threatening the condition of your property and the festive season seeing many places left unattended and as targets for burglary. But, with my top four tips, you can give your tenants some valuable advice this year to prevent these things from happening.