How prepared is your property for the winter season?

With winter approaching property owners need to make sure that they are prepared. Here are 9 top tips to ensure you are well equipped for the wetter, colder months of the year.

1. Get a boiler service
Getting your boiler serviced once a year will highlight any issues that may have gone undetected when the heating hasn’t been required during the warmer months.
As the weather gets colder people tend to switch on their central heating, that then leads to a surge in gas consumption which can result in boilers breaking down.

2. Clear out your gutters
Falling autumn leaves will almost certainly affect your gutters during the winter; although it may look harmless at first glance it can create excessive water damage to your property if they’re left to pile up. Failure to do this can lead to a costly nuisance.

3. Don’t make theft easy for burglars
Leaving a property empty can increase the risk of theft, especially during periods when tenants go away for a while – for example, around Christmas time.
It’s also an idea to emphasise to the tenant the risk involved leaving expensive items on display when vacating the property. Failure to do simple things like this could attract burglars.
Installing theft deterrents such as alarms is another way to protect your property from burglars.

4. Bleed your radiators
A great way to ensure that your property keeps warm during the winter season is to make sure your radiators are fully operational. An often cause of your radiators not being fully functional is the need for your radiators to be ‘bled’.
Radiators need bleeding when they have air trapped inside them. This trapped air stops warm water circulating around your radiator. That can make the radiator cold at the top, but warm at the bottom. It means your central heating system isn’t working efficiently and it can take longer to warm up your room.
If you’re unsure how to do this, British Gas has a helpful YouTube video on how to bleed radiators with a step by step process which can be seen here.

5. Be aware of long period of unoccupancy
A lot of the time, landlords tend to believe that their property is fully covered without tenants living within the premises which is not always the case.
This is why you need to make sure you understand your obligations, otherwise you may discover that you’re not fully covered. If you are ever unsure what you are covered for, contact your insurer.

6. Talk to your tenants
Maintaining a good relationship with your tenants means they’ll be more likely to help you keep your property in good condition, and let you know if anything’s wrong.
Make sure they have all the details they need about the property, for example the location of the stopcock in case they need to turn the water supply off if there’s a leak.
If heavy snow or local flooding looks likely, talk to your tenants about an emergency plan, and make sure they’ve got several ways to contact you. Also tell them about any security or maintenance steps you’d like them to take if they’re going away for a while.

7. Turn off the supply to outside water pipes
Turning off the water supply during the winter season when the property is unattended for long periods of time is a necessity. The result of not doing this could result in pipes freezing over and splitting. You can reduce the risk of this happening by turning off the stop valve inside the property and opening the tap on the outside of the property, this releases water in the pipe and allows any remaining water space to expand if it freezes, without splitting the pipe.

8. Check your insurance policy or speak with your broker
Thoroughly checking your insurance documents every year is essential to making sure you have the right cover in place, as circumstances can change year to year. You may need additional add-ons which you may have assumed would be covered as standard in the policy, for example – landlord home emergency or landlord boiler breakdown.
If there is anything you don’t understand or are unsure of, always double check with your insurance provider or broker.

9. Make sure your roof is in good repair
Winter is also a good time to check the roof of your rental property, looking out for broken tiles, issues with pointing and rendering, and cracks in the chimney, if you have one.
It’s important to get your roof checked twice a year which would highlight any early signs of needing a roof replaced. Damage to your roof is more likely to occur with heavy rain, or weak spots in the roof could buckle under heavy snow.

Luckily, here at Clarke Williams insurance we specialise in property insurance. For a no obligation property insurance quotation, please call 01732 252 895.

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