Household emergencies generally occur during the depths of winter, but we recommend that landlords undertake a pre-winter checklist now to prevent unforeseen property headaches in the months to come. A tenant will often be less interested in preventative measures, but will of course complain if there is a problem – often too late and costly to remedy. Here are some pointers:
• Don’t wait until the really cold weather arrives to discover that the central heating is not working. Ask your tenant to time your central heating to click on for one minute a day throughout the year to avoid it seizing.
• A sudden cold snap can burst water pipes, causing flooding. Make sure your tenant knows where the stop-cock is. Ensure your pipes and tank are properly lagged but do not insulate underneath your tank. Ask your tenant to leave the heating on low and leave any loft hatch open if they are going away.
• Storms can bring down branches causing damage to roofs, so it’s worth doing some pruning now rather than having to call out the tree-surgeon, roofer and insurance assessor in an emergency.
• Check your gutters are clear, as the weight of waterlogged and frozen leaves can cause them to leak or collapse.
• Assess your roof for loose tiles that can easily become dislodged during high winds, causing damage to property, cars and possibly injury to people.
• Avoid your tenant getting smoked out as they light the first fire of winter by checking that birds have not made a nest in the chimney.
• Outside lighting not only enhances safety but also deters burglars, who are more active during the winter.
A small investment now is well spent if the stress and expense of a winter emergency are to be avoided.