Ultimate guide to spring property maintenance for landlords - Total Landlord Insurance

March 22, 2024
Ultimate guide to spring property maintenance for landlords - Total Landlord Insurance

Read an interactive and user-friendly version of this guide below.

After a long, wet winter the first signs of spring are always a welcome sight. The milder weather and longer days are also the perfect time to check your property for any damage and undertake outside maintenance work more comfortably and safely.

But what are the key maintenance issues to address in the spring? And what are the risks of not having a regular maintenance schedule? In this guide we’ll explain how ongoing maintenance will prolong the life and value of your property, saving you money in the long run and keeping your property safe for your tenants.

Do you have a regular maintenance schedule?

In our recent landlord quiz, the overwhelming majority of landlords we asked (80%), said they deal with property maintenance proactively to prevent issues. Only 14.3% said ‘if it isn’t broken, I won’t fix it’ and a small minority of 5.6% responded that they ‘fix issues as cheaply as possible’. Maintaining your property so that it is safe and habitable for your tenants is part and parcel of being a good landlord. So, if you’re going to need the support of a professional tradesperson it’s a good idea to get them booked in early, as invariably they will be busy at this time of year. It can be difficult to find tradespeople to carry out maintenance and repairs, so it’s worth making the time to find qualified, reliable tradespeople. Make sure you treat them well so that they are more likely to respond when you need them. Unless you know how to fix something properly yourself, get a qualified contractor in – it’s generally better to fix something properly first time around.

What are the risks of not maintaining your property?

If you fall into the 'if it isn't broken, I won't fix it' camp, or if you think fixing problems cheaply will save you money in the long run, you run the risk of not only devaluing your property and reducing your rental yields, but even breaking the law. Regular maintenance is vital if you want to rent out a safe property while prolonging its value and attracting and retaining the best tenants.


Five reasons for regular property maintenance

1. Staying on the right side of the law

As a landlord, your main legal responsibility is to keep your rental property safe and free from health hazards. This involves making sure that the property is in a safe and liveable condition and that it complies with the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018. You must carry out repairs promptly and make sure that any gas or electrical systems meet specified safety standards. You can read more about how to rent a safe home in our article and our ultimate guide to preparing your property let contains lots more useful information to help you get things right.

2. Prevention is better than cure

The old English saying, “a stich in time saves nine” is a truism that all landlords should take to heart. Identifying any problems early can stop minor issues from escalating into major, costly repairs and avoid some problems from developing in the first place.

For example, the wet and windy winter months can play havoc with roof tiles and ridges. Inspecting the roof with a good pair of binoculars for any signs of damage after winter can help detect defects that will soon result in leaks. Much better to do this before they cause extensive water damage internally and start disrupting the lives of your tenants.

3. Fostering a positive landlord tenant relationship

By prioritising regular maintenance, you are also clearly demonstrating to your tenants that you look after your property and care about their welfare and their safety. Addressing maintenance concerns proactively is a great way to foster a positive landlord-tenant relationship, as well as setting an example that you care about the property, encouraging them to follow suit.

By making sure your property looks its best and is in good order, not only will you attract the right tenants, but you will inspire them to take better care of where they live. This will save you time and effort when it comes to re-letting, reducing unproductive void periods.

4. Preserving the value of your property

Being proactive about maintenance will help both preserve and enhance the value of your investment. One day you will probably want to sell it and a neglected property will suffer a loss in value. And if you plan to continue renting it out, potential renters will be deterred by visible signs of disrepair or neglect.

5. Increasing kerb appeal

Kerb appeal is key when it comes to attracting new tenants. And spring is the perfect time to make improvements to any outdoor space attached to the property. Not only will this boost kerb appeal from the street, but it will also prevent the garden from descending into an overgrown, tangled mess, or patios from becoming broken and covered in dangerous slippery moss, which could potentially result in a liability claim.

It’s important that landlords pick up any safety issues in their property by doing mid-term inspections, encouraging tenants to report repairs and attending to them promptly. Many landlords overlook the outdoor areas of a property so spring is a good time to check for any hazards that could cause an accident. If you have done everything right, but a third party is still intent on trying to sue you, then liability insurance is an essential feature of landlord insurance which offers protection if a tenant or visitor is injured on your property. If an accident does happen, liability cover provides the peace of mind that your insurance company will do all they can to defend you.”

Steve Barnes, Head of Broking at Total Landlord


Do you know the essential spring maintenance checks?

So, what are the key maintenance checks that you need to carry out in spring? Tom Entwistle, a residential and commercial landlord since the 1970s and founder of LandlordZONE, the longest serving website for landlords in the UK, draws on his own experience to explain the external and internal spring maintenance checks you need to carry out.


External spring maintenance:

Start at the top

If you’re renting out a flat, the freeholder or managing agent is responsible for the structure, the roof and the outside fixtures and fittings, so other than reporting defects, as a landlord you’re not responsible for these areas.

If your buy to let is a house, then it’s a good idea to clean out the gutters after winter and, while you’re at it, thoroughly inspect the roof. This is particularly important if your property is near trees. The gutters will probably need an annual clean out - if your guttering becomes blocked after the autumn and winter seasons you run the risk of gutters overflowing and water running down walls or even causing water ingress into the house – neither of which are good for any property. 

If this is a DIY job for you, make sure you have a good, safe pair of ladders and anchor them securely at the bottom and top, with sections clamped together when you use them. While at the top of the ladder you can more easily inspect the roof for slipped tiles and ridge tiles, missing flashing and mortar. Later types of roof structures with dry roof systems can lose plastic fittings, which will need to be replaced. You will need a roofing contractor to do any roof repairs that are needed – do not attempt DIY roof repairs from ladders.

Downpipes and external walls

The next area to check is the downpipes and signs of leaks and water stains on the external walls. When water leaks onto walls, either from the gutters or leaking downpipes, you will see telltale stains, usually streaks which are green in colour. Better still though, visit your property in a heavy rainstorm and check for any leaks or overflows. Given enough time, leaks like these will penetrate the walls and damage the fabric of the building. Even if the water doesn’t penetrate to the inside of the building, it will eventually penetrate and be running down the inside of the cavity, soaking any insulation material present and reducing its effectiveness.

Look for any signs of loose or missing mortar between bricks or stone, which may need repointing. Make sure the damp proof course at the bottom of all the walls is exposed and no debris has built up to cover it, and that the air bricks (wall vents) are clear – bridging the damp proof course will eventually result in damp patches on inner walls, caused by rising damp and blocked air vents which can cause dry rot.

Make sure there are no holes or gaps where pests can enter the internals. Field mice and other vermin love to find an easy access point when looking to make a new home. If you spot any potential entry points make sure you block them with sealer or mortar. 

Windows and doors

If you have wooden windows, doors and soffits they will need repainting every few years, so check the state of the painting. Wood stains are much better than paint as they preserve the wood and are easier to maintain. 

With UPVC windows, very little maintenance is needed as you don't need to worry about repainting or weatherproofing. However, from time to time you may need to maintain the functioning components and keep them clean. With wood or UPVC windows and doors, check all the fixtures and fittings including glazing unit seals, drafts seals, locks and handles, trickle vents and child locks on upper floors. Rubber seals especially can become worn or cracked with age and the winter weather, potentially causing water leaks and draughts. 

Foundations and subsidence

Check all the walls for signs of cracks or movement from the foundations up. It is also important to check for signs of subsidence, which will cause large cracks and movement. Settlement, especially in older properties, is quite a minor problem comparatively and should not be a concern. Subsidence cracks tend to extend diagonally and are visible both outside and inside the property and are often accompanied by door and window frames going out of square – these are more serious and may involve an insurance claim if movement is recent. Our infographic on buying, selling and letting a property with a history of subsidence contains a handy five point checklist on what to do and what to avoid.

Subsidence can be caused by clay solids expanding and contracting through the seasons – hot, dry summers and cold, wet winters are usually to blame. Also, tree roots, when they are positioned too close to the property, or leaking drains, will undermine the masonry. Check all the waste pipes, drains, sewer pipes and grids for signs of blockages and leaks – slow flow rates and wet patches on the ground are signs of blockages and leaks. Read our guide, ‘Subsidence: what is it, how do you spot it, and how do you know if you have it?’ for detailed guidance and more information about the process for subsidence insurance claims.

Grounds and gardens

While basic upkeep of the garden is usually the tenants’ responsibility, bigger maintenance jobs rest with the landlord. Hedges, trees and shrubs will need annual trimming, both to prevent damage to the property and maintain appearance – kerb appeal. Some climbers and shrubs grow very quickly from spring onwards, so it’s important to keep them under control.

Keeping large shrubs and trees under control has two benefits when it comes to landlord insurance. Firstly, since trees and shrubs send their roots out in search of moisture, keeping them to a neat and sensible size prevents them from sucking up larger amounts of extra moisture in warmer weather, which could reduce the risk of subsidence related issues as the soil is less likely to dry out.

Secondly, keeping garden hedges, bushes and trees under control can deter potential intruders looking for a place to hide or getting close enough to the property to see if it’s worth breaking-in.

Steve Barnes, Head of Broking, Total Landlord


If you have specific maintenance expectations relating to the garden, it’s a good idea to include a clause in the tenancy agreement. As part of your checks you will need to make sure this is being done to an acceptable standard.

A good tenancy agreement garden maintenance clause will clearly lay out how any borders, lawn or paved areas should be looked after during the tenancy, define that the garden should be in the same condition at the end of the tenancy as it was at the start, allowing for seasonal changes, and make it clear that the tenant can’t alter the garden in any way without the landlord’s consent. Taking the time to make sure garden maintenance responsibilities are clear at the outset can save time and reduce the chances of a dispute in the future.

Suzy Hershman, Resolution Department Lead at mydeposits

While there are green-fingered tenants out there, many struggle to keep on top of gardens and outdoor spaces, even when this forms part of their tenancy agreement. It might be worth adding a small increase to the rent to have a regular gardening maintenance service come in to weed, mow lawns and keep pathways and patio slabs free from slippery moss. They will also report back to you about any maintenance issues that need attending to such as broken fences, squeaky gates or rotting sheds.

Our ultimate guide to garden maintenance for landlords and tenants and this mydeposits case study on a garden maintenance dispute include lots of useful tips and advice for both landlords and tenants. 


Winter rain, frost and snow will also take their toll on outbuildings such as the shed and garages, so these need to be checked for any signs of deterioration such as leaking roofs, walls and doors. Door locks and hinges may need attention to make sure they work properly. Also, any tools you have provided, for example for garden maintenance, must be safe and in good condition. Power tools you supplied should be checked to make sure they are safe, in working order and that you have provided operating and safety instructions.

The cold winter weather affects outdoor taps and pipes, so it’s a good idea to check them in spring to make sure there is no frost damage - turn them on to check for leaks, making sure they hold pressure, and assess the volume of water that is coming out. Your outdoor taps are especially vulnerable to temperature changes. Read our guide to reduce the risk of burst pipes in your rental property.

Make sure your rubbish bins are stored correctly, and preferably out of sight, in a bin store. When it arrives, the warm summer weather will attract vermin if you don’t have a proper system for storing and removing rubbish. Plus bins not stored properly are unsightly. Make sure you advise your tenants how best to manage this, keeping bins closed and sealed at all times. 

Securing your property

For your tenants’ peace of mind and safety, you will want to make sure that there are no obvious weak points where the property could be vulnerable to break-ins. Burglaries and attempted break-ins are a big headache for landlords and tenants, with opportunistic thieves always looking for ways to steal property and exploit carelessness and weakened defences. Our ultimate guide to securing your property contains lots of useful guidance to help you reduce your risks.


Internal spring maintenance:


Carrying out internal spring maintenance involves a thorough internal inspection of the property from top to bottom, usually when the house is occupied by a tenant. You should plan on doing an inspection in any case at least a couple of times a year. It’s important you do these regular inspections in-line with your tenancy agreement and as stated in most landlord insurance policies. 

If you are insured with Total Landlord, inspections need to take place within a month of the tenant moving in and at least every six months thereafter to make sure the property is in good working order. Give your tenant plenty of notice for when the inspection is to be conducted.

While legally landlords only need to give a minimum of 24 hours’ notice, giving a little more will help tenants to feel more comfortable and contribute to a positive landlord-tenant relationship. Reassuringly, 60.5% of landlords responding to our recent quiz said they give a week’s notice before a property inspection and 25% give 48 hours. Only 13% give the minimum 24 hours’ notice. It’s also a good idea to invite your tenants to be present when the inspection takes place. Try to work with them to pick a convenient time, for example outside of working hours if they work regular hours. 

Apart from maintenance and safety checks, an inspection will tell you whether the tenants are respecting your property, keeping things reasonably clean and looking after furnishings, fittings and appliances - remember, fair wear and tear is acceptable. Our ultimate guide to inspecting your property contains comprehensive guidance on property inspections for landlords.


Floors and floor coverings

The likelihood is that you will have various types of covering in your rental property, all of which should be in good condition with no excess wear that could cause trips. For example, fraying carpets, especially on stairs, could cause someone to fall, resulting in a potential legal claim against you. 

Make sure floorboards beneath the property are free from signs of damp and decay. Dry rot and wet rot are caused by having restricted air flow in the crawl space below and water ingress respectively. A problem like this needs to be caught early to prevent it becoming a major issue. Get to the root of it and treat the affected areas as soon as possible with specialist chemicals once the cause has been addressed, to avoid further deterioration.

Since damage to flooring is a common reason for claiming against the deposit at the end of the tenancy it’s worth thinking about the best flooring for a rental property before you rent it out. Our tenancy deposit protection partner, mydeposits, also powered by Total Property, has written a guide to choosing the best durable flooring for a rental property to help you decide.

Water pipes

A water leak can cause serious and costly damage inside a property. Make sure the stop tap is accessible and working and that your tenants are aware of its location. Check for leaks on any of the pipe runs under or behind appliances, and connections for washing machines, showers, baths and sink taps. Make sure none of the taps are leaking. 

Damp and mould

Since Awaab Ishak’s death and Awaab’s Law, damp and mould have rightly become a big issue in rental properties, and government guidance issued in September 2023 makes it clear that landlords are responsible for this problem, no matter the cause. If you find signs of damp and mould or condensation in your property, for example damp walls or black mould on walls and ceilings, you need to establish the source of the problem.

Condensation is caused by lack of heating in the property and lack of ventilation at the source of moist air production (steam), namely kitchens and bathrooms. But by providing extractor fans and educating your tenants as to the cause and cure, this problem should be containable.

Damp and condensation can also be the result of a property that lacks adequate insulation or has a poor or defective heating system. Also, water ingress through walls and the roof (penetration damp) or rising damp at the lower parts of walls. You need to get to the bottom of these problems as soon as they are drawn to your attention. They present a health hazard for which you, as landlord, can find yourself liable.

Damp and mould are contentious issues and there is often debate between landlords and tenants about who is responsible for excessive damp and mould in a property. If the damp and mould is a result of issues with the property itself - such as poor ventilation or a lack of insulation - it is more likely to be an issue for the landlord to resolve. 

If the tenant is not ventilating or heating the property properly, the damp and mould could be caused by the tenant, or perhaps more likely, a combination of the two. The tenant may need to be educated as to what they can do to prevent these problems. Either way, the landlord is responsible, and early identification and treatment of the issue is very important. Our detailed guide to damp and mould explains all you need to know, and includes a downloadable checklist for you to share with your tenants.  

Central heating, boilers and fires

Gas boilers, fires, cookers and flues, as well as gas pipes, must be inspected annually by a Gas Safe registered heating engineer. It’s also a good idea to have your boilers, gas, oil or LPG serviced annually, and if you are using heat pumps, they also need to be checked. Make sure during your inspection that the boiler is functioning correctly and that there are no obvious problems.

Gas fires, open fires and log burners also need attention to make sure they are safe, particularly the chimney flue. Check there are no obvious issues with these devices and arrange to have chimneys swept on a regular basis. 

Consider having your boilers, fires, cookers, water heaters etc. served every 12 months at the same time as having gas checks done.

Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms

You need to check that smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working properly and replace them if necessary. Most good quality ones have 10-year life batteries these days, unless they are mains interconnected, in which case the battery is merely a back-up. Find out more about your legal obligations in our guide to smoke and carbon monoxide alarm regulations.

The electrical system

Do a visual check of all the electrics, from power sockets and light fittings to the main fuse board and circuit breaker. Check power leads to appliances for signs of wear and make sure nothing is being overloaded. Remember, you need to have the electrical system inspected by a qualified electrician every five years.

Appliances you have supplied

Spring is also a good opportunity to check over your supplied white goods and any other appliances. Check they are working correctly and that they are safe, otherwise remove and replace them. Don’t forget to check the vents of washing machines and tumble dryers, filters and seals as they can often become clogged up by fabric particles and dust over an extended period of time, or leak, especially after heavy use in the winter. Also, don’t forget to check the electric coils behind the fridge for dust build-up which could result in its failure.

Bugs and vermin

Check for signs of vermin infestations by inspecting for droppings behind units and in cupboards. You may need to work in conjunction with your tenants to deal with this issue, or if the problem is serious you may need to bring in pest control specialists.

General safety

Take a look all around the property, inside and out, for any items that could cause a safety hazard such as loose or missing stair rails or wonky outdoor paving slabs. Always try to head-off any safety issues before they escalate into an accident.

Maintenance is key to a successful tenancy

Looking after your rental property through regular maintenance is not only your legal responsibility, it’s also in your own best interests if you want to be a good and successful landlord. A well-maintained property should hold its value well and your tenants will thank you for being diligent, which will hopefully inspire them to be more respectful and careful with your property in return. 

Doing maintenance in spring, when the weather is kinder, is an obvious time to schedule in those tasks that, if tackled earlier, will save time and money later. Encourage your tenants to report any maintenance or repair issues as soon as they become apparent, making sure they understand that there will be absolutely no penalty for doing so.   

Be sure to include any specific maintenance and repair responsibilities in the tenancy agreement and include a long-term maintenance schedule as part of your business plan, to help you keep on top of maintenance.

Our article, ‘Nine steps to becoming a good and successful landlord’ contains lots more useful advice on how you can run a profitable lettings business, taking care to look after your tenants while keeping the property in the best possible condition and well above minimum required standards.

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