Christmas: The time of year where we wish peace on earth and goodwill to all men. But what about your tenants?
As a landlord, you should be aiming to make your tenants feel as comfortable and cosy as possible in your rental property.
You should also be ensuring they are safe and placing an increased interest on the security of your buy-to-let at this time of year.
Here are Martin & Co's best 10 tips for looking after your tenants' needs this Christmas...
1. PLAN FOR A FESTIVE EMERGENCY
The last thing you'll want as you wake on Christmas morning is a frantic phone call from your tenants saying the boiler has broken.
Of course, emergencies and issues do happen and they don't wait for a more convenient time of year either.
But you should let your tenants know who to contact in the event of an emergency over Christmas as soon as you can.
Whether that is a tradesperson on call, someone from your managing agent's office or even yourself, ensure they know what to do and who to call if something goes wrong over the Christmas break.
2. DO AN INSPECTION
Whether that's yourself or asking your managing agent to inspect your buy-to-let property, early December is a good time to take a look around.
It will give your tenants the opportunity to address any concerns before Christmas. Even if they have minor issues, getting them sorted before Christmas will go a long way to keeping them happy over the festive break.
3. GET THOSE REPAIRS FINISHED
With cold weather potentially just around the corner and tradespeople packing up their tools for Christmas in little over a week's time, getting those niggling repairs fixed now is crucial.
Bad weather can make minor problems into big ones so don't put off any repairs at your rental property until the New Year. Waiting could cost you far more in the long run and risk making your tenants unhappy.
4. LET YOUR TENANTS PUT UP DECORATIONS
Many tenants are unsure what they can and can't do in a rental property.
Get in the Christmas spirit by telling them to put up decorations, but remind them that walls and windows should be made good and put back to their original state after the festivities.
5. FIND OUT IF THE PROPERTY WILL BE EMPTY
Many tenants will travel to see family and friends over Christmas, so make a point of finding out when your rental property will be empty over the festive period.
If your tenants are going away for two weeks or longer, this will enable you to ensure the property is fully secure. It could also be a last-minute opportunity to address any repairs.
If they are going away for more than 60 days, perhaps travelling to another country for Christmas, you should check to see if your landlord insurance remains valid.
6. MAKE SURE YOUR BUY-TO-LET IS SECURE
Even if your tenants are remaining in the property for Christmas, that doesn't make security any the less important.
With Christmas presents often left on display, the festive period is a ripe time for burglaries. As a landlord, take responsibility for checking that your fencing is nice and firm and that security systems like lights and CCTV are all working.
Advise your tenants to keep all presents hidden from external view.
7. ADVISE TENANTS ON CONTENTS INSURANCE
With that increased risk of burglary at Christmas, check your tenants have taken out contents insurance.
If they haven't, remind them that your landlord insurance does not cover their contents and advise they look at taking out a policy.
8. REMIND TENANTS OF CENTRAL HEATING SETTINGS
With cold weather almost certainly around the corner, ensure your tenants know how to use the property's heating system.
Not only will this keep them comfortable, it will help reduce the risk of burst pipes and problems associated with condensation and mould.
Most importantly, ensure your tenants know where the water stop cock is located. Stopping a leak as quickly as possible is crucial to avoid major damage to your property.
Talk to your tenants if they have concerns about the cost of heating and come to an agreement if possible.
9. CHRISTMAS FIRE RISKS
Creating a Christmas atmosphere is wonderful, but with candles and fairly lights glowing for long periods of the day and night, there is an increased risk of fire at this time of year.
Tenants often have a habit of overloading plug sockets, too. Remind them of their responsibilities when it comes to electrical safety and tell them to make sure all candles are fully extinguished at night or when they go out.
If a fire does occur, ensure you have briefed them on what to do.
10. BUY THEM A PRESENT
The tenant / landlord relationship can be tense at times. If you have good tenants in situ, it's important to look after them. This will save you huge amounts of hassle and cost in the long run.
But them a present to let them know you appreciate them and are grateful for them paying rent on time and looking after your property.
This doesn't even have to be a traditional present. You could offer to pay their heating bill for a couple of months, or cover their broadband costs.
A festive treat will go down really well and ensure the New Year gets off to a positive start for you and your tenants.
If you have a property you are thinking of renting out, get in touch with your local Martin & Co office who will happy to talk you through your options.