The daylight hours are lengthening and the crocuses are peeping through, but that doesn’t mean we’ve passed the worst of the British weather. February and March can bring two of the most destructive forces; wind and rain.
Watch out for tell-tale signs of your property needing attention. What starts out as a minor issue can quickly expand into an expensive repair.
You don’t have to be an expert!
Look. Have a good look around. Is anything at all different from the last time you were there? Is anything damaged? Look for damp patches or wallpaper coming away from the wall surface.
Smell. Don’t ignore smells of dampness or a mushroom or fungal aroma, especially when you first enter the property. This could indicate damp problems or even dry rot.
Listen. You can often hear drips before you see the damage they cause, especially in lofts or between wall cavities. The same applies to vermin or infestations.
If the property is unoccupied
- Keep the heating on. It’s a false economy to turn the heating off completely. An unoccupied house can quickly become freezing. This heightens the risk of water pipes freezing. This puts pressure on the joints that can lead to a leak as the pipes defrost. The same goes for water tanks and immersion heaters. The damage can be catastrophic. Talk to a qualified heating engineer, or better still, call Patchett Homes, we’ll give you guidance about maintaining your empty property at a safe temperature over winter to avoid the worst happening.
- Regulate stop-taps. Turning off the stop-tap inside the property but leaving the external one open releases water inside the pipes. This creates space for any remaining water to expand if it freezes without bursting the pipe.
- Touch the radiators from top to bottom. If the heating is on, but one or more radiators isn’t the same temperature all the way down, they could need bleeding?
- Check your insurance policy. What are you covered for?
- Clear dead leaves. Leaf build-up can form blockages, particularly in the guttering.
- Look inside garages or outbuildings. Has anyone been sleeping rough or even storing things there!
- Check for damage from falling tree debris. Even if your property doesn’t have trees, other local gardens or land does!
- Spot the early signs of dampness. The first indications are the smell, especially when you first enter the property. Also look for small dark patches on walls, around window frames and on enclosed chimney breasts.
- Inspect the bins. Are whatever arrangements you have in place for dealing with the bin collections working? Overflowing bins can suggest someone is using your property and unemptied bins or bins left out on the pavement for long periods are a security risk.
- Check all windows. Are they closed and locked securely? Is any outside lighting working?
- Ask the neighbours. Do they have any concerns?
If the property is occupied
You’d reasonably expect the tenant to be watchful for anything you need to be aware of, either as maintenance or security concerns.
Encourage your tenants to keep the house at a reasonable temperature and aired. Condensation causes many damp problems through inadequate airflow or excessively low and high heat.
Good communication goes a long way
Ask the tenant to report any potential problems, however small. By the time the annual inspection comes around, a preventable problem may become a major headache for you and the tenants.
Make sure your tenants know what to do in an emergency, where the stop-cocks are, how to use the heating, what you’d like them to do if they leave the property whilst away on holiday, for example? Make sure they have emergency contact numbers and more than one way to get in touch with you or the managing agent, especially out of hours.
Patchett Homes is always happy to hear tenants and landlords’ concerns. We have an experienced and qualified team of professionals covering every trade and discipline concerning property maintenance, from a dripping tap to a major pipe burst. Depending on the arrangement we have, the matter can have been reported to us, any repairs carried out and everything sorted by the time you pick your massages up!
Call us for advice on 01274 882331 any time!
Download a copy of our free Winter Property Checklist here [link]