The clocks have gone back and the UK officially enters Winter Daylight Saving Time. Mornings start to get noticeably chillier, car windscreens need scraping and we start counting how many shopping days we have left until Christmas.
But as a landlord, there are many more things to tick on the autumnal checklist to prepare your property for the cold snap – including Stirling Ackroyd’s Fully Managed Plus Service (FM+) – and its revolutionary Fixflo online service toolbox.
Tenants don’t spend much time thinking about how they’re going to keep warm inside the house when the weather starts getting colder – until the boiler breaks. This becomes your instant-urgent-problem-to-fix. The moment tenants can be found huddled around candles wearing three pairs of Christmas jumpers is the moment at which they become less eager to pay rent on time.
Now it’s Autumn, it is a wise decision to service the boiler before the real cold starts, reducing the chances of one of these frozen emergencies in December and January. An annual service will save you money in the long run and eliminate the very real risk of a carbon monoxide leak.
By regularly bleeding the property’s radiators, not only are you keeping your tenants warmer, but you’re also making the radiators work more efficiently, thus reducing energy bills. Check to see if they’re colder at the top than at the bottom and this will indicate whether there is trapped air which needs to be released.
In the cold weather, frost can be a real problem for any property’s pipes. If a section of the pipe freezes, water pressure builds up and the pipe can burst causing potentially expensive damage. In the worst case scenario, if flooding occurs, tenants may have to move out of the property until the issue is resolved, meaning you can suffer a loss in rental income.
In order to reduce the risk of this happening, there are active steps you can take: Get a plumber to lay pipes away from outside walls or colder areas of the house such as attics and cellars. This will stop them freezing so easily. If this is impractical, insulation sleeves can be placed around the most vulnerable pipes to avoid frost setting in.
Take some time to scan the outside walls of your property, focussing on finding cracks or small holes through which cold air and water could enter. When the water freezes, it expands by around 10% in volume and cracks are opened further.
It is fairly easy to seal up any brick leaks with a sealant or filler, something which could save you a lot of money in the long run.
Door and windows
Make sure that you check for any cracks and leaks around window-frames and door-frames too. Apart from facilitating access to damp and unwanted insects, you or your tenant will end up paying higher energy bills to keep warm simply for the fact that it seems colder indoors.
Locate the stop cock
In the unfortunate event that your pipes do freeze, make sure that you know where the stop cock is so that you can easily turn off the water system. Any build-up of pressure can cause internal flooding which is an awful thing to happen in the depths of Winter. It is normally located in the kitchen under your sink.
Autumn leaves can be beautiful as they turn red and orange in October. Nevertheless, when they fall off the trees they can also cause headaches for landlords as they accumulate in gutters, blocking the flow of rainwater as it drains.
If too much water builds up in the gutters, it can begin to leak through the roof and filter into the house – causing damp to the structure. This can significantly weaken timber if left unaddressed and would need to be seen by a professionally at significant cost.
The advantage of being a landlord with Stirling Ackroyd
With colder months problematic for homeowners and landlords things break, split or crack, we know that our additional assistance is much appreciated.
Tenants in our FM+ properties can use our user-friendly online tool Fixflo to help. You can report maintenance issues here in a quick and effective way – 24 hours a day via smartphone, tablet or desktop – in any one of 40 languages.
This state-of-the-art system means we can resolve maintenance requirements or repairs swiftly and with minimal disruption to you or your tenants.
Crucially, Fixflo also explains which maintenance issues tenants are responsible for fixing, and how to do so safely. Outsourcing maintenance or repairs to the right contractor is essential, so we’ll always instruct and manage all requests using our assured and accredited suppliers.
Due to the detailed software behind Fixflo, the majority of repairs can be resolved during a contractor’s first visit, saving you time and money.
By choosing FM+, the team at Stirling Ackroyd will find you the best tenants, ensure that your property complies with all the necessary legal and compliance regulations, and makes sure that we are always there to resolve any maintenance issues. Let Stirling Ackroyd keep you and your tenants happy this winter.