Landlords guide to getting ready for winter

Winter’s coming and landlords won’t be surprised to read that it’s the busiest time of the year for property insurance claims (which peak in February). It’s said that prevention is better than cure and the following ten steps are designed to minimise the risk of making a claim:

Burst Pipes
A recent report by a leading insurer has revealed that burst pipes are the most common cause of claims over the winter months. ‘Escaped Water’ can cause substantial damage with average repair bills costing £5,000 and sometimes running into six figures. Eye-watering costs are one thing, but landlords can also expect an ongoing headache as repairs take an average 100 days.

Burst pipes are surprisingly common and surprisingly easy to prevent. In the colder months exposed pipes can freeze causing the water inside to expand (as it turns to ice) and crack the pipe. When it gets warmer (and the ice melts) both landlord and tenant can find themselves in deep water.

Just as you wouldn’t dream of tackling the cold without wrapping-up warm; make sure your pipes are insulated with lagging. Pay particular attention to exposed pipes and those in colder parts of the property such as the attic. Explain the serious side of burst pipes to your tenants and ask them to keep the central heating on low if they are going away over the winter period. Check they know the location of the stopcock and how to turn-off the water supply in the event of an emergency.

Boiler Servicing As a landlord you’re legally responsible for boiler repairs (under the Landlord and Tenant Act) as well as making sure that gas appliances are checked every year by a registered Gas Safe engineer. Given that a boiler service doesn’t cost much more than the annual safety check; it makes sense to get both done at the same time.  Small problems are often easy to fix, but can become big issues if ignored. Boiler breakdowns are the third most common cause of landlord claims and cost an average of just over £250.

Drains & Gutters Make sure that gutters and downpipes are cleared of autumn leaves and free draining.

Garden Hazards Storm damage is one of the most common causes of landlord claims, and while you can’t control the weather you can minimise risk with a little groundwork. Garden furniture and outdoor play equipment should be safely packed-away out of the wind. Long branches should be cut back to prevent them breaking-off in high winds or collapsing under a blanket of snow and trunks should be checked for signs of rot. Storm damage claims are amongst the most expensive and typically cost over £1,500 to put right.

Weatherproof Roof High winds can wreak havoc with roofs so check for cracked, loose or missing tiles before the winter winds begin to blow. Check ceilings for signs of damp which could signal a problem with the roof.

Alarms Bells Fire safety is a serious concern in the colder months and it’s important to make sure your tenants know how to stay safe (think ‘fairy lights’ rather than ‘tealights’). Smoke alarms are mandatory for all properties and carbon monoxide alarms if there’s a solid fuel heat source; both should be checked regularly.

Outdoor Lighting Longer nights allow burglars to work overtime under the cover of darkness, but they can easily be deterred by fitting motion activated lighting. Not only will outdoor lighting help to keep burglars at bay, but your tenants will be grateful when the worst of the weather is against them.

Steamy Windows Condensation is caused when warm air (which carries more moisture than cool air) comes into contact with a cold surface and returns to liquid. The culprits are varied but blame tends to be pinned on a lack of ventilation or a lack of heating. Sometimes condensation is unavoidable, and the consequences can be costly including: rotten window frames, warped furniture, peeling wallpaper, blistered plaster and mould. Dehumidifiers have come a long way in a short time and today an effective energy-efficient model shouldn’t cost much more than £100.

Draught Proofing Part of your job as a landlord is to keep your tenants happy and simple draught proofing will help keep tenants warm and cut down on energy bills.

Your Responsibility Landlord insurance provides an essential safety net to help protect your most valuable asset, but it’s important to know exactly where you stand. Scan the small print and you’ll quickly realise that T&Cs vary greatly between policies and that’s why it’s wise to get expert help from an experienced consultant. You’ll also realise that it’s your responsibility to keep the property well maintained or you could be left in the cold when it comes to making a claim.

Quoteline Direct is an independent broker with over 45 years’ experience and we’ve negotiated access to some seriously competitive landlord insurance deals. In fact, we are so confident that we can cut the cost of cover (based on like-for-like cover) that we guarantee to beat your renewal premium by at least 10%. To find out more, get a quick quote or to arrange online cover visit our Landlord Insurance page or Tel: 0161 874 7747 to speak with a member of our team.




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