Christmas is only a few weeks away, and many people will soon be putting Christmas decorations up.
This week, a member got in touch with us about some outdoor Christmas decorations their tenants had put up at the weekend.
Their tenant had put up several lights and small structures in the front garden, including a reindeer.
The landlord only noticed the decorations because the property is on their route home from work. They thought the outdoor decorations looked tasteful, but they wanted to know if they should be involved in checking the safety of the decorations given that landlords are responsible for keeping in repair the structure and exterior of the property.
They phoned our team for some advice.
Landlords are legally responsible for the maintenance of the exterior of the property, but tenants are not required to ask for permission to put Christmas lights up, unless there is something specific included in the lease about this.
However, repair work may need to be carried out at the property if there is any damage caused by the lights, so its best to check- landlords could even add a line in our ‘winter letter’ (see below) asking tenants to tell them if they plan to put decorations up.
Before Christmas, its advisable for landlords to send a ‘winter letter’ to their tenants. This letter, which can be downloaded from the RLA’s website, includes useful information tenants need to know in the cooler months.
The letter highlights how tenants can avoid pipes bursting, what they should do in an emergency if this happens, and it also includes a reminder of the small jobs that tenants are responsible for.
Ideally landlords should agree with tenants from the outset what can and cannot be done, so there is no confusion down the line.
Fire safety and Christmas decorations
Christmas trees, candles, fireplaces tend to be in close proximity in houses and so all present an increased fire risk. A concerning report published a few weeks ago by the Local Government Association found that a staggering 40% of battery operated smoke detectors failed. If your tenants are putting Christmas decorations up, its also a good time to remind them that they should be regularly checking their smoke detectors work and replace batteries if necessary (or report to the landlord if there is a bigger issue/in the case of wired smoke detectors).
Empty properties over the Christmas period
Finally some tenants, particularly students, will be heading home during the festive season leaving the property vacant over the Christmas period.
If your tenants are planning on being away for a while, it is worth while sending them the winter letter, because includes information on what tenants can do to prevent things like the pipes freezing if they are planning on being away during the Christmas break. There are also things that can be done to keep a property secure if it is going to be left empty.