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5 must-read tips for private UK landlords this winter
|British Gas have recently revealed that 49% of people aren't looking forward to winter, with many worrying about whether their home will hold up to the freezing temperatures, heavy rain, strong winds, and potential snowfall that the coldest season of the year brings.
Because of this, and with a growing number of private landlords in the UK - the sector is predicted to constitute £1 trillion worth of property come spring 2015 from a figure of £930.7bn today and just £262.1bn in 2001, according to the Office for National Statistics - it is important for landlords to make sure that their properties are fit for purpose this wintertime.
Ensuring not only that the property itself is going to stand up to the elements but also that, in turn tenants are comfortable and secure, Neil Woodhead, Founder of Ready Rentals, an online resource that provides self-managing landlords with the support to provide a professional and legally compliant service,highlights five tips that every landlord must-read in the run-up to winter:
1) Undertake external building inspections
External defects can quickly damage a property, especially in winter. Make sure you carefully check all outside walls, windows, doors and roof for damages and any signs of weakness. Replace any cracked tiles and inspect chimney pots if the property has them, fitting ventilated cowls to unused chimneys. Ready Rentals can help by providing templates that landlords can use to regularly inspect their property and produce written reports.
With British Gas showing that 8% of those surveyed were concerned about the damage caused by overflowing gutters, and the ensuing affects potentially causing knock-on effects for the building, it is essential that you clean gutters, fix running overflows, remove moss and repoint any defect pointing.
2) Test heating systems
Has your boiler been serviced for winter and all your pipes and radiators checked for leaks and bled for airlocks? 46% of those asked by British Gas were worried about the heating or hot water failing during the colder months.
This is as, if not more, important if your property is lying empty or if you are remote from the property. If you have left the property without a resident, make sure that you arrange to drain the system down, along with all hot and cold water pipes. If you are remote from a property especially, ensure that you have emergency cover in place to cover breakdowns, an essential service for the tenant if you cannot contact a contractor quickly.
3) Keep an eye on insulation
Check that your loft insulation is up to current standards and, depending on location, grants may be available to upgrade it. Ready Rentals provides up to date information on changing legislation for landlords and ensures that all legal requirements are being met.
Consider cavity wall insulation, double or secondary glazing, and lagging pipes in void spaces. To reduce draughts, making living conditions more comfortable for those in the property, check pointing of door and window frames, apply sealant to skirting boards and fill gaps in wooden floors. All of these measures will protect your home, ensure it is more environmentally sound and help your tenant save money on their heating bills. The Ready Rentals system assists in this by allowing landlords to arrange maintenance and repairs online with professional and regulated companies.
4) Be aware of flooding risks
British Gas have revealed that 1 in 10 people have worries this winter about flooding because of burst pipes and landlords can put measures in place to make sure this is an unlikely occurrence. Burst pipes can cause significant flooding and serious damage to a property and no-one wants to have to face this in the midst of winter. Make sure that you don't allow pipes to freeze - protect exterior pipes with insulation sleeves if possible to help prevent this.
5) See to outside paving
In very cold weather water on paving slabs will freeze. This can not only be dangerous for tenants and anyone visiting the property but could also raise insurance issues and possible compensation claims against private landlords if someone injures themselves on the ice. Ready Rentals provides a helpline to landlords who have general, legal or financial queries, relating to anything they may require guidance on.
In the instance of paving, it is important therefore to ensure that all paving is well-drained so that it avoids the collection of water that will stand and freeze, creating treacherous conditions.
Taking into consideration these simple tips, all landlords can have a happy and stress-free winter, knowing that they have protected their property and created a comfortable home for their tenants.
For more information about the Ready Rentals service for landlords - that costs from just £20 per month including VAT - visit www.readyrentals.co.uk or call 0141 212 9120.