Winterize Your Rental Property for WinterWritten By PropertyLoop February 18, 2021
Whilst all landlords will know the effects of wear and tear on their property, far fewer are versed in the undesirable effects cold snaps can have on their rental. With the UK’s Housing Secretary Michael Gove revealing legislation ordering approximately 800,000 rental properties to improve their condition to reflect a “safe, warm and in a good state of repair”, landlords are becoming increasingly accountable for the maintenance of their rental, making winterizing more important than ever.
What Does Winterize Mean?
For landlords exploring how they can better prepare their rental property for winter, the term “winterize” may have been encountered. This term essentially means the steps a landlord can take to ensure their investment will brave the winter months without the colder climate working to deteriorate the condition of the property.
How Do You Winterize a House?
Account For Void Periods
As can be expected landlords will naturally hope to avoid prolonged void periods. But, if the property is left vacant over the winter months owners may struggle to find new residents during this colder climate, leaving them to pay mortgage interest payments, repair costs, management fees and advertising costs, all whilst going without a rental income. This financial burden makes it clear why it is essential for all landlords to hold a plan for when their rental opportunities are left unoccupied.
Whilst it somewhat goes without saying the importance of maintaining financial reserve encase of extended void periods, if the property is left vacant there will naturally be fewer people to alert the owner to potential damages, risks and needed remedial works, with void periods often having an influence over the protection a landlord can enjoy through their insurance, with the extent of some policies being influenced by the duration of any void periods.
Secure the Property
Similarly, to how the reduced occupation of a rental property can lead to the occurrence of damage, with the steady deterioration of a rental opportunity going unnoticed, void periods also open the door for those praying on empty properties. Perhaps the most common way of deterring such activity is to have the rental property fitted with an alarm, making it far easier for the tenants to secure their home, alongside having the occupants and the owner alerted immediately if a break-in does occur.
Clear Out Gutters
Of course issues such as dampness, mould and leaks across the rental property will not only present an expensive problem to solve for the landlord but a significant risk to the safety of the property’s occupants. This is why it is essential landlords ensure that the gutters surrounding their property are routinely cleared out, preventing the build-up of natural debris and allowing water to flow away from the rental.
This is also where having a great relationship with your tenants will be at its most valuable. Whilst landlords can assess the condition of their rental property during periodic inspections, this does not paint a full picture and only affords the owners a glimpse of the rental every few months, leaving the heavy lifting in keeping the property in good shape down to the tenants.
With this in mind although tenants will not be expected to pick up tools and get started with remedial work, they will be expected to report any issues, or area of damage or determination throughout the rental to the landlord or agent to allow for these concerns to be addressed.
Have the Heating Inspected
When preparing your rental property for winter landlords should keep in mind that the consistently lower temperatures can cause irreparable damage to the pipes found throughout the property. It is not uncommon for some owners to simply leave the heating on a low temperature over the winter months in an effort to prevent the pipes from freezing, however, some claim wrapping these pipes in “lagging” is far more cost-effective.
Further to this, landlords and tenants can take another simple action that can ensure their rental property doesn’t need extensive repairs come the new year, with bleeding a radiator removing trapped air from the radiator system, making heating more efficient and effective.
Have a Smart Meter Installed
Whilst tenants will account for their largest monthly expense being the rent they provide to the landlord; the same clarity is often not afforded with energy bills. Of course, the energy usage of a property will increase during the colder winter months and tenants need to be aware of this when budgeting for their utility bills. With a smart meter installed, not only do the occupants of the rental property have a richer understanding of their consumption during the winter snap, but also will exclusively be charged for the amount they use, potentially bringing household costs down.
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