January traditionally brings colder winter weather and freezing conditions can bring problems to landlords and their buy to let properties.
Burst pipes in particular need to be protected against. Especially when properties are left empty for any length of time. Losses resulting from burst and leaking pipes – including damage to ceilings, walls and carpets – cost an average £4,500 to repair. (According to Simple Landlords Solution, April 2016).
A recent case saw a tenant leaving their rental property for three weeks over Christmas to visit family, but failing to turn off the stopcock to heaters in the property. Extreme weather resulted in a pipe freezing then bursting and flooding the property.
Extensive damage resulted to carpet, lino and a washing machine. Following water having to be drained from the property it had to be de-humidified and the washing machine had to be replaced.
Infuna Let have advised that communication between landlords, agents, and tenants should be improved to avoid problems.
Jax Kneppers, founder and CEO of Imfuna explains: ‘If landlords and agents take a few simple precautions, they can help protect their properties from burst pipes. For example, it’s a good move to provide the tenant with specific instructions about heating the property in cold periods. Landlords and agents should ensure the tenancy agreement contains a clause outlining the tenant’s obligations to shut off the heating system if the property is vacated in winter.
‘It is important to instruct the tenant to inform the agent or landlord if they are vacating the property for more than 14 days in winter (this is also normally included in the tenancy agreement). A detailed check-in inventory with clear photos, signed by the tenant, will also protect landlords in the event of a deposit dispute over damage.’
Imfuna has put together some tips to help protect properties:
- Insulation: Ensure water pipes and the water tanks are lagged and insulated
- Heating – Advise tenants to keep their heating on at a minimum of 15C if they are going away. It’s sensible to open the loft hatch also, as this allows air to circulate and helps to prevent pipes freezing and bursting in the loft.
- Boiler servicing – Ensure that gas and oil boilers are serviced every 12 months.
- If the property is to be empty for an extended period it is sensible to have the heating/water system drained down by a qualified contractor.
Planning ahead can ensure that both landlords and tenants avoid the inconvenience and expense that can be caused by burst pipes.