Its November! - Now the clocks have gone back, the nights start to draw in and winter starts coming in fast - its time to start preparing for winter.
That means for Buy-to-Let Landlords moving to ensure the property is ready for the cold months ahead in order to protect the value of the property.
As pipes start to come under cold pressure they can retract in size causing them to burst or freeze causing overflow. You can help protect this by ensuring pipes are insulated with foam lagging. Pipe lagging is not something to get excited about, but it does the job well enough and is cheaper than a plumber, water damage and an unhappy tenant.
In general we don't do gardening or washing the car ourselves. Ensure the outside tap is turned off and even better ensure that the stop tap turning it off.
Check the Alarms
In the Jolly season there are often a lot of electric lighting, candles and Christmas time burglaries.
Ensure the property house alarm is working and the tenant is aware of the numbers, but perhaps the most important is checking the smoke alarms are working as Christmas Lights start to go up in the properties so do fires.Your under a legal duty to ensure there is a smoke alarm on each floor, with extra alarms where there is solid fuel burning fire. As well as the clear benefit of early detection can result in early prevention of a fire spreading and causing damage to your investment.
A fire blanket in the kitchen never harmed anyone.
Check the Boiler and Radiators
You need a Gas Safe Engineer to regularly check the gas appliances in the property - why not do so now? as their usage will significantly increase over winter. If a boiler breaks during winter - that could mean dipping into your pocket for an electric replacement and angry tenants getting cold showers. Its never nice for the tenant relationship a broken boiler in winter with Gas Engineers unable to fix issues promptly.
Whilst you are there - you may as well bleed the radiators, ensuring there efficiency.
Give the tenant a helping hand - instead of a cold house, check the timings on the radiators are correct for winter - perhaps coming on an hour early to ensure its not freezing cold in those early dark hours as they set off to work. We're want happy tenants right?
A Carbon Monoxide alarms are next to nothing, why not stick one near the radiator for extra health concerns. Its not the law yet but it may well soon be.
Buy to Let Insurance
Now is the season to be checking your insurance policy! If you have comparison site quality or low price buildings insurance it may not cover winter-related damage. With leaks does it include trace and access - many dont meaning you are insured for the bit of pipe but the damage caused in finding the pipe will have to be funded out of your own pocket.
Hows that tree?
In heavy winds - we're not getting a tree causing damage to the property or the car in the driveway are we? . That certainly would be a headache and an insurance issue.
You want to be clearing your gutters, removing clutter that may result in a blockage and overflow of water in places we do not want. Ensuring the rain water has a clear flow to the drains, water does not stand still (frost issue!) and repairing any damage or leaks. Pay special attention to the ends of the guttering or any junctions.
Whilst your on the roof - it may be a good time to check the status of the tiles - get it inspected now to prevent any potential leaks into the attic of the roof. A leak that may not be immediately apparent to the tenant! and could cause significant damage. You wouldn't want to find out to the contrary during a winter storm
Tenant Notice - Away at Winter
If not part of your tenancy agreement, make sure its added in next time.
You should remind (and require) your tenants if they are going away during the winter - perhaps on holiday or to visit the family. That they leave heating on a low setting to protect against frost. Modern boilers also have Frost Protection Settings
Tenant Notice - Water Stop Tap
Its a good time to remind your tenant (and yourself) where the Stop Tap is at the property. Its an important factor any time of the year but in winter when our pipes are put under pressure of higher use (heating) and potential frost issues - it could be more.
Tenant Notice - Mold and Damp
You want to ensure the tenant notifies you immediately of Mold or Damp, it can either represent a building problem or as we move into winter, radiators on and windows closed a ventilation issue. You do not want any delay in fixing the issue whatever the cause.
Tenant Notice - Christmas Lights, Candles and Extensions
Make sure your tenant is aware that overloading sockets can be dangerous and cause fire, best to re-enforce your policy of no naked candles and flames. The combination of flames and decorations is not something as a property investor we could allow.