Guide to avoiding winter hazards
When winter begins in the UK and the weather turns, there are a number of property hazards that you may want to look out for. Staying on top of property maintenance can help you catch issues early and avoid having to claim on your landlord insurance.
Having a policy in place can provide cover against a range of property perils, including those that may be more prevalent during winter.
The top key issues have been identified by insurers LV=GI and are as follows:
- loss of roof tiles
- water penetration due to poorly maintained flat roofs
- guttering and chimney stack damage
- problems with walls and outbuildings including damage to garden cabins/sheds, garages and greenhouses and
- damage to garden equipment.
What property hazards should I look out for in winter?
Despite this, research shows that many landlords leave their properties at risk of damage. Each property can differ when it comes to key weaknesses during colder weather. However, a common issue to watch out for are:
Blocked gutters – as the leaves fall from the trees, they can become clogged, preventing rainwater from draining properly. If left unchecked, this could lead to issues with your roof, including internal leaking.
Loose roof tiling – get a professional roofer to inspect your roof. Damaged, missing or loose tiles can cause serious damage in high winds;
Loose fence panels – fix or replace them if necessary. Fence panels can fly off in extreme win and cause damage to your home and potentially your neighbour’s property;
Secure loose objects in your garden or move elsewhere – wind can play havoc with your garden furniture and ornaments – move them indoors or secure them;
Move cars into a garage – this will minimise the damage caused in the event of extreme winds or flooding;
Cut back branches – branches or trees in your garden can cause damage in storms. Cut them back to reduce the chance of this happening;
Put up flood defences before bad weather arrives – you can find sandbag-like products to block your home’s doors and entrances.
Also keep an eye on the boiler in your rental property during the winter. The last thing you want is for your tenants to be left without heating and hot water, especially when the temperature has dropped.
Another issue is that if water is left in the pipes and the heating is not on (perhaps you have student tenants that travel home for an extended break over Christmas, leaving your property empty), the water could freeze and later lead to burst pipes.
How can I protect my property from these winter perils?
A good place to start is regular maintenance checks. By taking a look around the interior and exterior of the property, you can keep an eye on its condition. The sooner you spot an issue, the better your chances of fixing it before it gets worse. You should especially consider performing a maintenance check soon after any extreme weather, such as heavy rain or snow.
Understandably, you can’t be at the property all the time to notice such issues. However, you could encourage your tenants to be extra vigilant. Tell them to look out for signs of leaking pipes, damp patches and mould. You’d expect them to be in touch if these problems occur anyway, but there might be some areas that they don’t go into often, such as a loft, attic or hard to reach areas where the pipes are. Encouraging tenants to report any maintenance problems might also allow you to catch them early.
Help to avoid burst pipes by keeping the heating on at a constant temperature or by having the property professionally drained down if it is left empty for a while.
Sometimes damage to a property is inevitable, and you will have no choice but to pay for repair work. Having suitable landlord insurance in place might also provide you with the financial protection you need.