After a summer of glorious sunshine and blistering heat, it seems sad to say that winter is just around the corner. But homeowners, landlords and tenants should start considering pre-winter property maintenance now to avoid potentially costly damage once the frost bites hard.
Here's Martin & Co's guide to what you should do NOW to protect your property from winter...
CHECK YOUR PIPES
One of the most damaging effects of winter can come from frozen pipes. But there are steps you can take to prevent water escaping and causing devastation to your home.
As a landlord, ensure you check the pipes in your buy-to-let property for cracks or damage. Giving your tenants plenty of notice, of course.
If any damage, no matter how small, is spotted, call in an expert for a second opinion. Some money spent now could save a whole lot more if the problem is left to fester during the colder months.
If the pipes look in good condition, make sure you keep them that way by wrapping them in plenty of lagging. This will provide vital insulation during winter and protect them from freezing.
GET YOUR BOILER SERVICED
Another costly winter bill can be a boiler breakdown. But regular servicing, again for a relatively small amount of money, can ensure your boiler stands the test of time and saves you having to spend big on a replacement.
Moreover, a boiler service will show your tenants that you are committed to regular routine maintenance and care about their comfort in their rental property.
As well as providing winter protection, changes to regulations regarding Energy Performance Certificates that came into operation this year mean that a further spend on work like cavity wall insulation, draught proofing and floor insulation can also keep your buy-to-let on the right side of the required E rating for private residential lettings.
CLEAR THE DRAINAGE SYSTEMS
As we move through autumn, more and more leaves, twigs and general detritus will fall from the trees and much of it will land in guttering, blocking overflow pipes.
Blocked gutters and pipes can leave water with no choice but to flow dangerously down the side of your property, causing major damage to roofing and walls.
That can mean a large insurance claim or big expense to put right - not to mention having to potentially move your tenants out while work is completed.
If you don't fancy climbing a ladder to clear your guttering, bring in an expert. But make sure they do a thorough job, including running a 'plumber's snake' tool down your downpipes to remove any blockages.
Putting drain guards in place can help prevent blockages in the future and mean less work clearing and cleaning each autumn.
SERVICE THE FIREPLACE
Given how hot the British summer was this year, it's unlikely any of us turned on the gas fire between the end of May and, potentially, the end of September.
That lack of use could mean debris has built up, making the fire unsafe. Call in a qualified gas engineer to undertake a service.
If your property has fireplace and chimney which is regularly used in the colder months, have the chimney swept professionally.
Chimney fires are a danger, as are carbon monoxide fumes so a thorough sweep through once a year is a must.
CHECK THE ROOF
Loose or broken tiles can be tough to spot from ground level, but can cause major problems if not rectified before winter. Leaking roofs can also be more of a 'slow burner' so you won't see the damage straight away, meaning it has the potential to become much worse.
Again, it's best to call in the professionals here. A good roofer will be able to assess your tiles and fix them if required.
Roof work, as well as being specialist, can be extremely dangerous for a novice, so calling in experts is highly recommended.
ADVISE YOUR TENANTS
Many tenants, through not having owned a property before, are inexperienced when it comes to looking out for potential issues during the winter months.
As a landlord, it can be worth compiling a list of things for them to look out for and contact either you directly or the managing agent should they be concerned.
Give them written advice on things like the heating system, including keeping it on a timer when they are not in the property to prevent pipes freezing over.
They can also look out for gutter blockages and report issues with condensation and mould.
And most importantly, going back to the first point of this piece: Ensure they know where the stopcock is. Stopping water leaks from a burst pipe as quickly as possible is crucial to helping avoid catastrophic damage to your property.
For more advice and guidance on getting your rental property through the winter, speak to your local Martin & Co branch today.