…be prepared for every eventuality
No landlord wants that emergency call from a disgruntled tenant on Christmas eve to say that the heating is broke and the house is freezing! So it ‘s a really good idea to pre-empt any potential problems.
This actually happened to us once but luckily we were prepared and dropped off 3 electric panel heaters for poor guy who had nowhere else to go for Christmas. This kept him happy until the plumber arrived to fix the problem on December 27th!
Educate and prepare your tenants
This is possibly the most importance aspect of saving money during the winter months. Monitor your properties to make sure no-one is taking the proverbial. Ask your tenants to be reasonable and think ‘Eco’ at all times. Tell them what to do in case of an out-of-hours emergency and make sure emergency numbers on the hallway pin-board. You might also want to text these numbers to all tenants?
1. Buildings insurance
Has your LL got up-to-date insurance. Ask?
2. Where’s the water stop-tap (aka Stopcock)
Make sure your tenants (and you!) know where your water stopcock is located. Often its under the kitchen sink or it may be outside the property. This could be very important.
3. Get the old boiler checked
When you get your service done, it’s always a good idea to ask the plumbers opinion on the general condition of the boiler and its efficiency. Some plumbers will do the bare minimum required when servicing boilers whereas others may spend a little time tweaking for maximum efficiency. A poorly maintained boiler wastes energy and costs more to run. Some plumbers are better than others and there are some plumbers who will try and persuade you the boiler needs changing when it doesn’t. Get a 2nd opinion.
4. Roof inspection – inside and out
About a quarter of the heat produced in your property is lost through the roof! You may be able to get a grant to insulate the attic space and don’t forget to lag any pipes. Stand across the road with a pair of binoculars and check for any loose or missing tiles/slates. Also stick your head inside the loft space and look for any daylight shining through the felt as this may indicate a tear or a slipped tile.
5. Bleeding radiators
Trapped air in radiators = reduced heat = tenants turn the thermostat up! Buy a good quality bleed key – if you are not sure ask you plumber to show you how to do this simple task. If you have an older system it may be time for a power flush-through, which can be expensive, so try and get the landlord to pay for it.
6. Switch energy suppliers
Emily and I still maintain that Utility Warehouse are the best overall supplier when you use the cash back card to full affect. This reduces our personal bills, sometimes too well below zero!
7. Prevent condensation damage before it happens.
Use small signs to remind tenants to open window showering. Install extractor fans in bathrooms and kitchens if needed to prevent condensation. We have fitted a few Euro-vent fans when we had a serious condensation problem. These are pricing at circa £400 but very effective as they run constantly in the background and switch up to full speed whenever there is an increase in moisture. Its voodoo magic!
Have a check around the edges of your external doors and windows for draughts, especially if they are wooden. Also seal the loft hatches and stick solid insulation to the back of the loft hatch.
9. Blocked guttering
If you have leaves filling you gutters, this could result in damp problems. You can fit a gutter guard or a product called ‘The hedgehog brush’. When you first take over a property ask the owner to give any overhanging trees a severe short back and sides!
10. Over Christmas
Remind your tenants that if they intend to leave your property unoccupied they should turn off the water supply and leave the heating on the timer on a low setting to allow background heating.
This should ensure you have a problem free winter, happy tenants and a mega prosperous future! Remember … the more money you save in the winter months the better holiday you will be able to afford when Summer arrives!!