There’s no longer denying it, we are now well into autumn; the leaves are changing, the nights getting longer and the temperature dipping. But before you batten down the hatches in preparation for the colder months, it’s a good idea to use these (slightly) milder months to ensure your buy-to-let property is shipshape for the approaching winter with a thorough inspection.
Here’s a checklist of what to look for in your rented property this autumn.
Check the exterior
Have a wander around the outside the property and look for areas that need attention, such as broken or blocked gutters, overgrown vegetation and rotting or cracked window frames.
Gutters are particularly vulnerable to blockages in autumn due to the substantial leaf fall, and it’s important to ensure they are cleared as guttering protects your property from rain damage by diverting run-off away from the roof into a drain on the ground.
Look for signs of water falling sharply from a particular spot as this often indicates a build-up of debris. If you want to take on this job yourself, you’ll need a good sized - and sturdy - ladder and not be afraid to get your hands dirty. It’s a messy, fiddly, time consuming job and it may be in your interests (and safer) to pay a specialist to tackle it.
Trimming vegetation is usually an easier job, but rotting window panes can require specialist attention. They will only deteriorate in the harsher winter months, so act as quickly as you can to minimise damage - and, ultimately, the cost.
Are steps, railings and patios safe?
While you’re inspecting the outside of the property, take a look at any steps or railings, and, if there is one, a decking or patio area to check for any broken or uneven surfaces to minimise the risk of a tenant or guest falling over in snow, ice or heavy rain. Landlord liability insurance is designed to cover you should someone be injured in a fall on your property but the policy may be void if you have failed to maintain the property according to the terms and conditions.
Are you compliant and fully covered?
While you’re in the maintenance zone, why not do a full check-up of the property and assorted admin to ensure you are up-to-date with buy-to-let compliance as well as on top of your property upkeep.
This is also a good time to check your insurance policy to see if it fully covers you for any potential winter-related problems such as a broken boiler. Boiler insurance requires an annual boiler service and Gas Safety Inspection, which you are legally required to have each year, so make sure you’ve ticked those off your list.
Additionally, check the smoke alarms are in good working order; look for signs of a gas leak such as soot or black or brown scorched areas on or around the cooker or excessive condensation on the windows, and inspect the property for mould. And if there is a fireplace and chimney, get it swept; a blocked chimney runs the risk of igniting a fire and is a ventilation hazard.
Inspect the ceilings and the floors
Cracks in the ceiling and walls can be signs of subsidence, while sloping floors can indicate structure damage or problems with the foundations which need to be looked into asap as it could be dangerous.
Water stains on the ceiling and walls are often a sign of a leak while any holes along the skirting board may be housing vermin and should be blocked up and, if necessary, pest control called to tackle an infestation.
Call 0800 294 4522 to get a quick quote today!