Winter freeze or flood! The two F’s of British Winters!
Winter has arrived. Will we start the season with a white Christmas or will we be hit with three months of windy and wet storms?
Whether we are to expect the cold spell that Buffallo, USA are currently experiencing or another winter of flooding, there are many actions that can be taken to ensure your home and rental properties keep you and your tenants dry and warm.
It is recommended to prepare for this as early as possible in order to avoid claims such as escape of water, blocked drains and storm damage. Having a yearly inspection during autumn, paying close attention to roofing and replacing broken tiles are just some of the steps you should take to prepare your property.
Below are some of our top tips for maintaining your premises before the weather gets bad and what to do in the event of an emergency.
1. Ensure your pipes and tanks in the loft are adequately insulated. It’s worth checking that this has not been moved or dislodged by tenants.
2. Make sure that overflow pipes are correctly connected and not blocked.
3. Clear out your gutters and downpipes and check that they are free from cracks or splits.
4. Clear drain gratings of leaves and debris.
5. Ensure any external pipework is not lagged, including outside taps which should either be turned off internally if possible and drained down, or fitted with an insulated jacket.
6. Replace any cracked or missing roof tiles.
7. If your property is unoccupied, ensure you comply with any special terms and conditions that may apply such as regular inspections or draining down of services.
Don’t forget it is also worth speaking to your tenants so they can help protect your property too.
What advice can you give to your tenants:
• If your tenants are planning to be away, ensure that they leave the heating on low. An arrangement that involves you making a contribution to heating costs would be prudent as your tenants will be more likely to do this.
• Whether at home or not, doors between heated and unheated parts of the property should be left open to allow warm air to move around the property. In really cold spells this could include leaving the loft hatch open to allow warm air to circulate reducing the risk of frozen pipes in the loft.
• Do they know where the stopcock or isolation valves are located in case they have to turn off the water to any part of the property?
• You might want to consider providing your tenant with the number of a reputable contractor who could respond quickly and undertake emergency repairs to prevent further damage.
In the event that something does happen to your property and you do discover damage this winter here are some simple steps you should follow:
• With burst pipes you should use towels or blankets to try to stem leaks while you turn off the water at the stopcock or mains.
• Turning on taps to drain the water from the system faster.
• Turn off the source for hot water and central heating.
• Arrange for emergency repairs to be undertaken as quickly as possible in order to prevent further damage or inconvenience for your tenants. You should arrange and pay for emergency repairs and retain your paid invoices as you may be able to reclaim the cost later.
• If emergency repairs are made ensure you keep photographs and receipts/invoices if you have not spoken to your insurer before undertaking the works
• Contact your insurers as quickly as possible to report your claim.
Unexpected weather can still potentially cause severe damage to your properties even with the best efforts and adequate preparations taken by the owner. In order to have peace of mind, a comprehensive landlord insurance policy is recommended should the worst happen. If you would like advice on what additional steps you can take to protect your property in the run up to winter the professionals at Total Landlord Insurance would be more than happy to help.
0800 63 43 880 / 020 8275 7060
About the authorI joined Hamilton Fraser in 2008 intially working for my|deposits as a front-line team leader. In August 2011, I moved to become the claims team leader which handles claims for Total Landlord Insurance as well as Hamilton Fraser Cosmetic Insurance and other Hamilton Fraser products including household, commercial, liability and directors & officers.
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