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Winter-proof Your Property

When winter comes around with its snow, ice and plummeting temperatures, that’s when communication between landlord and tenant should be at its most fluent. 

Why? Well, it’s at this time of year that the bit – expensive – problems can arise in rented flats. And yet, there’s no need for it. Not, that is, if both landlord and tenant prepare for it well in advance. Here are some of the things that can go wrong right here: 

Frozen Pipes 

A frozen pipe is the classic tenant winter disaster. This is when the water inside a pipe freezes and expands. The result is often a cracked pipe. It’s only noticed when the water melts and the pipe begins to leak. It can result in huge damp patches if the pipe isn’t visible.  

The reason a pipe freezes in the first place is usually due to the fact the property has been empty for a few days. The tenant may go visit a friend for a long weekend or, if they are a student, return home for a fortnight during winter.  

There are actions both landlord and tenant can take though, to lessen the likelihood of having a pipe burst on the property.  

Landlord Actions

He or she can ensure that the pipes are lagged property with foam insulation and get them checked for cracks from time to time. Incidentally, insulating pipes will also result in lower energy bills for the tenant, encouraging them to stay in the property for longer. Check windows and doors too and insulate if you can feel draughts coming through. 

Continuing with the leaking taps theme, a tap which is dripping water should always be sorted to prevent water freezing in the sink’s waste pipe. 

Tenant Actions

Get them to set the heating to low when they know they’ll be leaving the property empty for some time. Either that or they can turn the water off completely, using the stopcock, then draining the water out of the pipes. You may have to show them where the stopcock is in the first place. 

The Boiler and Heating 

Landlords, it’s always worth checking this in the autumn, before the freezing weather really kicks in. Your boiler should have an annual check anyway, while the radiators may need bled from time to time. You can tell if this is the case as they will be hot at the bottom and cold at the top of the radiator. 

You can do this yourself, or you can show your tenant how to do it. It’s not difficult and doesn’t take long, but makes a huge difference to the heating in the property. 

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Roof and Guttering 

Tiles on roofs can get cracked as a result of cold weather, storms or simply wear and tear. The results can be catastrophic in terms of water leaking through the roof and into your attic, causing damp patches. 

Autumn, when all the leaves fall, is when gutters tend to become blocked. When these overflow it can penetrate the brickwork of property, again causing dampness. Freezing water can actually damage the exterior of a property so it’s definitely best to get gutters cleared out before this happens. 

Weathering Winter Together: Tenant and Landlord

It’s a good idea to write into the Tenancy Agreement who does what ie whether it’s you or your tenant who is responsible for bleeding the radiators.  

You could also provide your tenant with an information pack, outlining how to switch off the stopcock, what to do if they discover a burst pipe, and how to set the timer on the boiler. Give instructions on switching off the gas too. Also insert emergency numbers for a plumber, electrician and locksmith. 

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