Winter Proofing your Property 1st Nov 2016

Whilst enjoying this late autumn sunshine, it is worth turning your mind for a few minutes to the cold winter months that may be just around the corner, and considering how you can protect your buy to let investment against the less clement weather conditions that us hardy Scots are used to.

The Key Place carry out regular inspections and will tell you if there are any particular issues needing attention; we would urge you to invest in order to protect your property in the long term. However staff may not be able to inspect every part of your property and as prevention is always better than cure, it is worth considering the following:

• If walls and loft space are not insulted then this is worth exploring further. Home energy grants are often available. See:
• Pipes and tanks in the loft should be adequately insulated.
• External pipework should be lagged if possible.
• Internally, draughts should be dealt with – whether insulation tape / draught exclusion measures will suffice, or whether more extensive work is needed.

Roofs and External Pipes
Snow and ice can be heavy and so will put weight on roofs etc. Therefore:
• Ensure gutters and downpipes are clear, not cracked, and that supporting brackets are functioning well. If pipes are blocked they may freeze as water cannot flow freely through them.
• Check the roof to ensure that there are no broken or missing tiles. Are flat roofs in good order?

• Consider having boilers and heaters checked before winter. It may be that radiators need to be bled and tenants may not know how to do this.

Damp, Mould and Condensation
• Damp is a common problem in properties, particularly older ones. Damp issues are a matter of degree, varying from a small patch of mould to extensive growth. It is a serious issue because of health risks associated with mould spores. Dampness caused by building defects are without doubt the landlord’s responsibility. These must be investigated fully and be dealt with.
• If there is mould growth due to condensation, this is likely to be caused by the tenants as long as there is adequate ventilation provision (eg extractor fans) by the landlord. The Key Place issues tenants with an information sheet telling them how to deal with condensation and mould as a result of condensation. Staff also advise on measures to be taken during inspection. Tenants, who through their actions allow the build-up of condensation and mould, will be required to pay for any treatment to put right the situation.

Landlord Insurance
As a landlord you should check that your landlord insurance covers you fully for damage caused by bad weather and that your cover is up-to-date. Remember general maintenance issues may not be covered by landlord policies. This means that you need to make sure that your property is fit for winter – both for your own peace of mind, and for that of your tenants.

The Key Place gives tenants advice regarding steps they should take during periods of cold weather. Tenants are also told the location of stopcocks, isolation valves, fuse box etc. The landlord should ensure these are in working order. The Key Place also provides tenants with out of hours contacts in case of an emergency.