With the onset of winter, landlords and tenants should be inspecting and preparing their properties to ensure they are prepared for inclement weather.
Ian Le Grice, property management expert at Bruton Knowles explains “It’s always a good idea if extra inspections take place, particularly on vacant properties. Essential items should always be checked for good management and for insurance purposes”.
“Landlords and Tenants should still carry out their usual statutory compliance inspections and at the same time inspect the critical areas.”
Ian goes on to explain “Pipework is one of the most immediately vulnerable elements of a building and the mains water stop tap position should be identified for quick and easy access. Ensure all vulnerable pipework and water tanks are lagged with insulation to prevent frozen pipes.”
“If the building is unoccupied keep the temperature at a low level to maintain a constant temperature around the pipework or isolate the water supply and drain the pipework down to reduce the risk of burst pipes”.
Landlords have a duty to ensure supplied systems are serviced, maintained and safe. A boiler should be serviced by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer, which will reduce the risk of leaking carbon monoxide. Servicing will use less fuel and reduce running costs. Similarly, radiators should be inspected to ensure the system is free from trapped air which will result in the system running more efficiently.
Ian explains “You need to ensure all draught seals to doors and windows are in good condition and any cracks and holes in the building are sealed to prevent heat loss. Increasing insulation to the building will also reduce running costs of the building.”
Ian said “Make sure all the drainage runs are clear and free from blockages to prevent backing up of the system, especially if rainwater is discharging into a combined system”.
“At roof level, it is important to ensure all the gutters and downpipes are free from debris and kept clear to reduce the risk of water ingress into the building.”
“Also check the roof covering to ensure there are no missing tiles or slates and that they are securely fixed to prevent wind uplift and damaging water ingress into the roof.”
Landlords need to ensure that the tenant has full access to the building health and safety file or O&M Manuals and know how to operate the appliances in the building safely and efficiently but also know where to access the gas and water isolation valves in the event of an emergency.
Whilst there are costs involved in undertaking basic maintenance, in the long term it could potentially avoid costly and disruptive repairs, as well as potential invalid insurance policies.