Partners and Suppliers Jack Vlasto 04/12/2023

Tips to avoid winter property maintenance issues

Winter is here and it’s important as a landlord to ensure your properties are prepared for colder weather.

Here, Jack Vlasto of NRLA insurance partner Rentguard shares advice for landlords on how to keep your property well-maintained over winter.

While it can be a good idea to perform periodic inspections regularly throughout the year, this can become even more important during the winter months. During this colder period, there are specific risks that you might need to bear in mind, ones that may not be a problem the rest of the year.

Suitable landlord insurance can help to give you peace of mind that you are covered over winter. On top of this, we have some tips to help you keep your property well-maintained over winter.

External property maintenance tips

Let’s start outside the property, where cold, wet weather conditions could lead to damage. Some maintenance before winter hits, along with monitoring during the winter months, could save you money on costly repairs when spring comes around.
ter. On top of this, we have some tips to help you keep your property well-maintained over winter.

Check for roof damage

Before the cold spells hit, it can be a good idea to check the roof for any existing damage. Cracked, broken, or missing tiles can lead to rain and snow getting into your property, which could cause damp or even water damage, as well as letting the cold in, making it more difficult to heat the property.

If conditions become icy or if snow builds up on your roof, you may want to clear the roof as the weight of the snow and ice could cause further damage.

Check gutters are clear

As autumn turns into winter, it’s important to give the gutters and drainpipes a once over as leaves and other debris may have built up in them. Blockages can lead to overflows, causing water to spill out down the side of your property and onto pathways outside the property. It can be even more important to clear your guttering before winter because this water may freeze in cold weather, which could create dangerously slippery conditions outside the property.

Secure garden furniture

It’s not just cold conditions that you might need to worry about during winter, but also strong winds. If items like garden furniture are left out, then these could blow around, potentially causing damage not just to the furniture, but also to surrounding structures, not to mention the potential risk of injury to those around.

Remind tenants that they should put away or otherwise secure garden furniture. They could put the furniture inside the house if there is space, or another storage solution such as a shed. If your tenants do not have space to securely store the furniture, then you could offer to store it away for them over the winter. They may take you up on this offer if they are unlikely to use the furniture during these months. 

Check the condition of fences

If your property has garden fences, these will also be exposed to the elements all winter. Inspect your fences for any signs of damage or weakness. It may be a good idea to have any damage repaired before winter. Or it may just be a case of cleaning and repainting your fences to improve their condition before the harsher weather starts.

It may also be wise to clear leaves from around the base of the fence and to keep them clear of snow in the event of snowfall, as this build-up can lead to the moisture rotting the wood.

Internal property tips

Now for the inside of the property, where some small efforts could make big differences to the comfort of your tenants and the size of your energy bills over winter. Whether you cover your tenants’ energy bills within the rent or they pay them themselves, a more energy efficient property can benefit everyone involved.

Insulate the property

It is estimated that 25% of a property’s heat is lost through its roof. Some basic loft and/or roof insulation can have a big impact on the energy efficiency of your property, keeping more warm air in and, as a result, meaning less energy is required to keep the property warm. Cavity wall insulation can also be a good idea for improved warmth and energy efficiency.

Service the boiler

An old or poorly maintained boiler may also not be the most energy efficient. You may want to have your boiler serviced before winter to keep it running efficiently and to help reduce the likelihood of it breaking down during the colder months. A winter boiler breakdown could be particularly costly and leave your tenants in a very uncomfortable situation.

If you consider it necessary, you may also replace your boiler before winter with a new, more modern appliance, which may also be more energy efficient.

Check windows and door seals

Gaps and cracks around your windows and doors could be letting a lot of cold air in and warm air out. Inspect the seals around all your windows and doors to see if any need maintaining or reapplying.

And if any of the windows in your property are not double glazed, then now could be a good time to upgrade them to this more energy efficient option.

More energy saving tips

There may be other actions you could take to save energy in your rental property over winter, or tips to give your tenants to help them keep the property warm and the bills down. Providing draught excluders to place at the bottom of doors can help to keep warm air in heated rooms. Also, good quality, thick curtains can help to stop warm air escaping through window panes, and trap any cold air between the window and the curtains.

And it’s not just the heat but also the light that you might need to consider. With fewer daylight hours during winter, tenants are likely to have lights on for more hours per day. Switching to energy efficient bulbs could help to reduce your electricity bills.

If your tenants are conscious about saving money on their energy bills, then it could also be helpful to provide them with a smart meter. This will allow them to monitor how much energy they are using, helping to prompt changes that could help to reduce their usage. While this may not make a huge difference, research shows that households with a smart meter save 3% on electricity and 2.2% on gas.

Will your property be unnoccupied during winter?

Your property could further be at risk during winter if it is going to be unoccupied. This is because there are no tenants in the property keeping it warm by using the heating and hot water. So, issues can arise such as frozen pipes or damp and mould building up.

Check your landlord insurance policy for any clauses that might be relevant to unoccupancy during winter. For example, there may be a heating/drain down clause, meaning the water, gas, and electricity supplies might need to be turned off at the mains and the water system drained. Under these terms, the electricity supply may be left on if required for a security alarm or other security devices.

Similarly, your policy may allow you to leave the heating on at a minimum temperature to help prevent pipes from freezing. Be sure to check your policy for such terms and conditions.

Some modern boilers have a frost protection setting that can also help. This switches the boiler on when it detects that the water has dropped below a certain temperature. It can also be a good idea to check the pipes before winter to ensure that there are no cracks or damage, and to repair or replace any if necessary.

Help is at hand – get in touch with Rentguard

With vast experience handling insurance policies for a wide range of landlords, and with relationships with a number of leading insurers, Rentguard Insurance aims to simplify your insurance arrangements and help to protect your property, its contents, and your liabilities.

Get a quote online or speak to our specialist team on 0333 000 0169.

The sole purpose of this article is to provide information on the issues covered. This article is not intended to give legal advice, and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and/or market practice in this area. We make no claims as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein or in the links which were live at the date of publication. You should not act upon (or should refrain from acting upon) information in this publication without first seeking specific legal and/or specialist advice. Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited trading as Rentguard and National Residential Landlords Association, an Introducer Appointed Representative of Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited, accepts no liability for any inaccuracy, omission, or mistake in this publication, nor will we be responsible for any loss which may be suffered as a result of any person relying on the information contained herein.
National Residential Landlords Association is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered Office: Spectrum Building, 55 Blythswood Street, Glasgow, G2 7AT. Registered in Scotland. Company Number: SC108909. Rentguard is a trading name of Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited.
Jack Vlasto

Jack Vlasto Head of Business Development, Rentguard Insurance

Jack oversees the business development team at Rentguard; he has a wealth of experience and knowledge in the Landlord Property insurance sector. Jack has been at Rentguard for over a decade. Jack’s key responsibility is to ensure that quality products and services are delivered to NRLA members.

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