Top Tips – Protecting Your South Manchester & Stockport Property Over Winter
Well the clocks have now gone back and depressingly it’s getting dark before 5pm in Manchester. The daily morning chore of de-icing the car has started. Winter can be a tough time for everyone – but none more so than for many landlords.
These colder months’ present potential risks to your rental properties, which could lead to costly problems. However, taking some time now to check your properties can help with un-expected costs and help ease you through a disaster free winter.
Void periods are a major threat during the cold months. If you know that your property is likely to be empty over the winter, you need to make extra plans to ensure its upkeep. Make sure that you visit regularly to open windows and check on the heating. If you can’t do this yourself, make sure that you arrange for someone else to visit.
If your property is likely to be unoccupied over the Christmas period, either while students are returning home or your tenants are taking a long holiday, ensure that you take the following precautions as expensive items on display are an easy target for thieves.
Invest in theft deterrents such as alarms (visible from the exterior of the property) and motion sensors. Ensure that the locking mechanisms meet the insurance policy requirements (usually 5 lever mortise locks but this may vary from policy to policy).
It’s also worth checking if there are any neighbourhood watch groups operating in the area and advise them of any void periods over the festive season.
Even before you get to winter, get things checked out well in advance. If you are not covered by a guarantee or warranty it will probably cost more to get stuff fixed at Christmas time (and even if you do have a warranty it will take longer.) So, if the boiler is making a wheezing noise or the washing machine is clanking, have it checked out now.
Keep Tenants Informed
Well-informed tenants are the best protection against winter property damage. Don’t assume that your tenants know how to deal with the cold weather; many won’t. Similarly, you should remember that it is your responsibility as a landlord to make sure they have the information they need.
Consider putting together an information pack, including things like the location of stopcocks, basic boiler operation, and so on. Remind tenants to periodically turn the heating on (using the timer system if one is available) if they go away over Christmas, in order to ensure that pipes don’t freeze. Another great way to warm up your property is to bleed the radiators. This releases any trapped air, allowing hot water to fill every part of your radiator and warm the property more efficiently. It may be worth dropping off some radiator keys to your properties and showing your tenants how to use them.
Make sure they know where the fuse box is and that they know how to turn off the gas. Tell them to keep a note of the number 0800 111 999 – they should call this if they smell gas.
Ask friends for names and phone numbers of good plumbers, heating engineers and other trades people. Have some portable electric fan heaters you can use to give your tenants to keep them warm if the heating conks out and no one can come out and fix it promptly.
Getting the Work Done
Only use properly qualified tradesmen who are member of a national body of association. Check what membership of the body gives you and check they really are members by asking for ID. For example, all gas engineers should be listed on http://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/(the new name for Corgi)
Decent plumbers and some heating engineers should be in http://www.ciphe.org.uk/(which also has a list of plumber and heating engineers who are available over the Christmas period) or the Association of Plumbing and Heating Engineers. Some white good suppliers are closed for only one day at Christmas.
If you are a landlord who may have a void property over winter, then feel free to get in touch and let us at Hamlet Homes provide you with a fully reference checked and credit checked tenant in your property before the weather gets even colder, to ensure your asset is protected.
Email me on [email protected] or call on 0161 257 2441. If you are in the area, feel free to pop into the office – 834 Stockport Road, Levenshulme, Manchester, M19 3AW There is plenty of free parking and the kettle is always on.