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With a cold snap sweeping across the country, The Landlord Syndicate, a network of companies providing a complete support centre for landlords, is offering advice to landlords on preparing both their properties and tenants for freezing conditions.

According to Total Landlord Insurance, an approved member of The Landlord Syndicate, landlord claims as a result of burst pipes and flooding rise by an average of 100 percent in winter months versus summer. Eddie Hooker, CEO of Total Landlord Insurance, says “During the cold snap just over a year ago, escape of water claims rose by a staggering 900 percent. Whilst the weather cannot be prevented, precautionary measures can be taken by landlords and tenants to minimise the risk and, should the worst happen, limit the resultant damage.”

The Landlord Syndicate advises landlords to arrange a convenient time with tenants to visit their properties to make checks both internally and externally. Eddie says “It is worth checking that all pipes and tanks in the loft are adequately insulated and that overflow pipes are connected and not blocked, especially if you have taken on new tenants in the last year that may have used the loft space and unwittingly moved or dislodged something.”

Externally, pipe work should be lagged, including outside taps which should either be turned off internally if possible and drained down, or fitted with an insulated jacket. “Gutters and downpipes should be clean, free from cracks and have supporting brackets that are secure as snow and ice can add excessive weight resulting in damage.  This is also the time to ensure drain gratings are clear of leaves and debris and that there are no cracked or missing roof tiles” adds Eddie.

On visiting the property, landlords should also advise tenants to leave the heating on low if they are planning to be away over the next month, and whether at home or not, doors between heated and unheated parts of the property should be left open to allow warm air to move around the property. Eddie advises “In really cold spells this could include leaving the loft hatch open to allow warm air to circulate reducing the risk of frozen pipes in the loft.”

“Most importantly, we advise landlords to ensure tenants know where the stopcock or isolation valves are located in case they have to turn off the water to any part of the property and check now that the valve moves easily without the need for any special tools.”

Finally, The Landlord Syndicate would recommend that landlords provide tenants with the number of their preferred and reputable contractor in case the tenant was unable to contact the landlord in an emergency. This will ensure the issue is responded to and repairs undertaken quickly to prevent further damage.

The wild winter storm that rocked most of the UK last week caused widespread damage but the Association of British Insurers (ABI), reassured all policyholders, including those with landlord insurance policies, that claims would be dealt with swiftly.
The torrential rain and gale force winds caused extensive disruption across the UK’s transport network, damaged properties and vehicles and toppled trees.

Now insurers are preparing themselves for the claims to come flooding in and could be left with a hefty bill to pay.
However, the association confirmed that any storm damage would most likely be covered by home, business and buy-to-let property insurance and that damaged vehicles would be covered by comprehensive motor insurance.

The ABI advised those making a claim, including landlords with buy-to-let insurance policies, to do so as soon as possible, indicating that insurance firms would react quickly to help policymakers affected by the storm.

Nick Starling, ABI’s director of general insurance said: “Insurers number-one priority is to ensure that anyone who suffers damage get their claim dealt with as quickly as possible.”

Landlords and property owners without adequate insurance in place face rising costs and a race against the elements, to repair the damage caused by the storm before the weather deteriorates further and the UK experiences the sub-zero temperatures, freezing conditions and associated chaos that a typical British Winter brings.

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The UK weather is set to turn from a glorious indian summer to a cold harsh winter, with UK weather forecasters predicting falling temperatures and heavy snowfalls likely for November and December.

It is vital for landlords to ensure their rental properties are properly weatherproofed and ready to take on the elements.

Rental property repairs can prove costly when the worst happens, but routine property maintenance can help prepare your properties for the coming winter weather.

Here are a few useful tips on how to prepare your rental property for the colder months ahead, and some of the warning signs to look out for:

  • Make sure the property is properly insulated, from lofts to cavity fillings to exclude drafts, prevent heat lost and conserve energy. This should include draft- proofing all windows, doors and letterboxes.
  • Check pipes are insulated to protect from frost and to prevent heat loss.
  • Check for missing roof tiles, and make sure the flashings to the chimney and around any skylight windows are intact.
  • Unblock drains and clear the guttering of any leaves, moss and vegetation.
  • You legally have to have the properties boiler serviced once every year. (CP12). When you have this done, it is a good idea to also consider having a  system flush undertaken as this will revitalise the central heating system and increase the longevity of operation. It will allow the central heating system to reach temperature far more quickly, thereby reducing fuel costs and putting less strain on the boiler.
  • Make sure all windowsills and door frames are properly coated and protected, with no rotting wood. Get any painting completed as soon as possible, once the wet and cold weather set in, they won’t dry as quickly.

Preparing your rental property for the cold wet weather is critical and landlords should not underestimate the work that needs to be undertaken. By keeping on top of this simple and effective routine year after year, the tasks are unlikely to turn into bigger jobs with larger repair bills.

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