The UK has seen a lot of snow over the last few days as the Beast from the East hit, and with Storm Emma on its way, the bad weather is set to continue.
The Met Office has issued a red ‘danger to life’ weather warning for South East England and South Wales, and its very important to make sure your tenants and properties are safe.
What to do if your pipes freeze?
With the freezing temperatures it is more likely that pipes will also freeze, leaving tenants without heating and hot water. If this happens, South Staffordshire Water gives this advice:
- If you have no water during a severe frost, check with your tenant’s neighbours. If they have a supply, your pipes may be frozen.
- Check your pipes for signs of splitting. Remember that if the pipes are damaged, a burst will only become apparent when the frozen water in the pipes thaws and can escape.
- Shut off the internal stop tap and drain your system by flushing the toilet and opening cold taps over sinks/baths etc (Don’t turn on the hot taps as this may cause you further problems if the hot water system is also frozen.)
- Also, switch off the central heating and any water heating appliances (boiler, immersion heater, etc).
- If the pipes are intact, open the taps and thaw the pipes slowly with hot water bottles or heated cloths. Always start thawing the pipe at the end nearest the outlet tap. Never apply a direct flame.
- Once you’ve thawed the pipes and you’re satisfied that no damage is present, and no leakage is occurring, close the taps you have opened and slowly open the stop tap.
- Check the pipes again now that they’re under pressure and only when you’re happy switch on water heating appliances, boilers, immersion heaters etc. Do not do this until you are sure the system has thawed out – after freezing has occurred there is a risk of explosion if heat is suddenly applied.
What advice you should give to tenants
Landlords must make sure that their tenants know how the boiler works, where the stopcock is and how to change the thermostat.
Tenants should be encouraged to leave the heating on a timer or a low setting if they are leaving the property empty for a few days, to ensure that pipes do not freeze.
It is also a good idea to give tenants a list of helpful contact numbers just in case of an emergency
Cold weather and vulnerable tenants
Cold weather can be a nightmare for vulnerable tenants – be it the elderly, those with health problems, the disabled and those on lower incomes who are worried about fuel bills.
If you have tenants who fall into these groups it is worth making sure they are prepared.
As well as the general advice detailed above, it is also worth checking that tenants are claiming all the benefits they are entitled to. £100 and £300 tax-free is available to help elderly people pay heating bills if they were born on or before July 5, 1953.
Most payments are made automatically between November and December.
You should get your money by 15 January 2018, but if an eligible tenant does not get one automatically they must make a claim through www.gov.uk
It may also be worth asking a neighbour to keep an eye out for vulnerable tenants during the winter months.
If you are worried about an elderly tenant contact the Age UK helpline on 0800 1692081.
No matter how well you prepare, problems can and do occur as a result of bad weather so it is vital to make sure you have the appropriate cover for your home and contents.
For more information on RLA insurance contact 0333 000 0169.