Lights are sparkling and the high streets are packed with Christmas shoppers.
Christmas is only weeks away, and here we have collated some common questions landlords have over the festive period, to make sure it really is the most wonderful time of the year for you and your tenants.
1. Could it be a white Christmas? Make sure your rental properties are ready
Whether it is a white Christmas or more of a winter washout, extreme weather conditions can lead to a few problems when it comes to properties.
If you take the time to inspect your property before poor weather takes hold, it could potentially save you time and money on expensive repairs in the long run.
If you are looking for more tips when it comes to winter property care, read this property care guide produced by RLA Insurance.
2) Make sure your tenants know what their responsibilities are
If you are an RLA member, you can download a template winter weather letter from our website to send to your tenants ahead of winter weather taking hold, to make sure they are also fully aware of their responsibilities as tenants.
Your tenants should know where the stopcock is in the property, and be clear on how to change the thermostat if they need to.
3) Do your tenants have up to date emergency contact information for you?
Your tenants should already have contact information for you, and the last thing anyone wants over the Christmas period is a broken down boiler. It is a good idea to make sure your tenants have up to date contact information for you-as you want to make sure they can get in touch with you about potentially issues at the property in an emergency.
4) Tenants heading away over Christmas?
Your tenants may be heading away to see family over the festive season, meaning that the rental property will be left empty, in some cases for several weeks-for example student tenants may break up early for Christmas and lectures may not start again until late January.
It is therefore important that you make sure that the property is safe and secure, especially if it is likely to be empty.
5) Avoid burst pipes
If your tenants are heading away then it’s a good idea to keep the heating on low, to avoid pipes bursting. Under the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System, burst pipes create a Category 1 hazard and depending on the complexity of the job can be expensive to fix.
If it’s too late and pipes have already burst, you can read a recent call of the week about burst pipes and what you should do.
6) Tenants on their own over Christmas?
It’s also important to consider if your tenants may be vulnerable, for example they may be elderly-if they are it’s a good idea to check that they are ok and make sure that they are claiming all the benefits they are entitled to.
7) Do I have to de-ice paths?
No, this is not the responsibility of a landlord, but its a good idea to make sure the outside of the property is safe for tenants. For example if your tenants are elderly or have difficulties on their feet, it’s a good idea to make sure there is handrail up to the path of the property and sufficient lighting, in the event of icy conditions.
8) Swept the chimney?
After all, how is Santa going to make his entrance? Jokes aside, its also important to make sure your chimney is clear as anything stuck up there could actually be a fire risk. Important to note that this is the responsibility of the tenant-you can learn more about this in a recent call of the week.
9) Boiler broken down? Check the condensate pipe
As sub-zero temperatures take hold, broken down boilers could cause a headache for landlords )and tenants), and tradesmen can get very busy over the festive period.
If you have a condensing boiler, its advisable to first check the waste pipe. Read this article from last year for how you should deal with this issue.
10) Speaking of tradesmen, make sure you have trusted ones in your contacts.
Instead of scrambling around in the yellow pages searching for an emergency plumber or electrician in your local area, it’s always good to have tradespeople that you already know and trust. Remember if you need a gas engineer you must make sure they are Gas Safe registered.
11) Remember the importance of insurance
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.
It’s been a busy year for landlords in terms of new legislation changes, and you’ve earnt a nice rest this Christmas! If you have further questions related to your lettings, remember you can give our advice team a call or drop them an email.