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Getting your Property Winter Ready

Yes, it’s September and the winter months are just around the corner. As a landlord, now is the time to carry out property checks and maintenance to ensure you minimise major problems that could arise during the harsher winter months.

After all, what would you do if your property flooded or was damaged resulting in your tenants having to move out whilst the damage was being repaired? Ensure your landlord insurance policy is in place, and read the fine print to see what cover it provides. Are you covered against flooding, falling trees, rodent damage? It could be the difference between losing money and making reasonable returns?

Get Your Pipes Looked at!

Especially in the colder Scottish climate, unlagged pipes that freeze and burst can result in considerable damage and expense. Has any pipework been done over the summer and been left un-lagged? Has there been work done in the loft that dis-lodged old lagging. Lagging not only stops pipes bursting, but reduces the chances of blockages.

The Stopcock - where is it!

Physically show your tenants where the stopcock is! If there is a sudden burst in the water-pipes, a picture nail penetrates a water pipe, or pipes do freeze and burst, damage can be reduced by getting the water to the house closed off early. Tenants can save you a lot of further damage to your property if they can immediately turn the water off.

Check The Loft Insulation.

Loft insulation can deteriorate over the years, it flattens and does not retain the heat as it once did when it was new. Check the loft space is insulated to the correct depth and there has been no vermin damage – those critters can get in to very small spaces and cause considerable damage.

Check the Gutters

It’s been an exceptionally dry summer, so there’s not been a regular flow of water along the gutters and down pipes, which naturally keeps the gutters free of debris. If we get heaver downpours in the autumn, and winter, and there is a blockage, the gutters will overflow and cause internal damage. With the dry summer leaves are already being blown around and will fill the gutters earlier than usual. Also check where the gutter leads to, drains and covers can also become blocked resulting in water spilling across driveways etc, freezing over and causing injury. With the intense heat this year gutters can warp and twist, check all the joints are secure and don't leak by pouring a watering can, full of water, along the gutter and check the joints.

Keep the Property Warm

We are all aware of the astronomical costs of heating right now, so every attempt should be made to keep drafts out of the house by sealing cracks and gaps around doors and windows. Check for draughts around the edges of window frames, gaps under doors, and around the letterbox. Draught excluders are available online, which will block draughts between doors. For windows and other small gaps, just seal the openings to keep the cold out this winter.

Test Your Alarms

During daylight saving time (End October), longer, darker nights appear and burglaries increase by more than a third, claims Co-op Insurance. If the property has CCTV or a house alarm, make sure both have been properly serviced and maintained so they work correctly. If your property is unoccupied or located in a remote area this is especially important.

Ensure the fire and smoke detectors have been serviced and batteries are changed. The Christmas period is a time when more incidents of fire hazards are reported. This is due to having lit candles around, portable heaters being used, and open fires being lit that have remained dormant for a long period. There is also the additional hazard of Christmas lights and overloaded sockets.

Finally – keep the Wildlife out!

As the colder months approach wildlife will be looking for warmer shelter and your loft, garage, and home are ideal places to spend the winter! Keep debris in the garden and around the outside of the house to a minimum (leaves, wood, paper, and cardboard provide ideal refuge places).

Look for any access places that might have appeared over the summer – slipped tiles, bricks dislodged etc. that provide entry points. Squirrels, rats or mice in the loft can cause damage to the insulation and wiring, which can prove costly.

These simple maintenance checks provide prevention rather than cure and can save huge sums of money.

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