Winter’s on the way – and it’s that time of year when landlords phones are ringing off the hook with tenants reporting failed boilers and heating systems.

As a landlord you are also a businessman and customer service and protecting your assets are two things always near the top of your working agenda.

That means keeping your tenants happy and making sure your rental property is in a good state of repair for the bad weather.

The end of the year is the time when you need to check each property is ready for whatever the weather decides to throw your way over the coming months:

  • Understand your insurance: Read the terms of your insurance policies for the pay-out rules – some only settle claims for accidental damage and will penalise you for damage caused by lack of maintenance or wear and tear. Inspect the property to make sure the policy terms are not breached
  • Stop burst pipes: Most insurance policies will insist the water and heating systems are drained if the property is empty for 30 days or more. If you have a burst pipe during a void, the damage can be horrendous and the insurer won’t pay out if they can show you did not drain the water away while the property was empty.
  • Gutters and roofs: Clean out the gutters and remove any obstructions to water flow. Replace loose or cracked tiles. One good way of checking the roof is to pop your head into the loft – if you can see daylight through the tiles, you may have a problem
  • Clear drains: Winter winds can blow leaves, rubbish and other debris over drains and stop water flowing away from downpipes
  • Fire up the heating: Give boilers, stoves and central heating a test run. Make sure tenants have instructions on how to light the pilot flame, adjust thermostats and other controls to save costly call-outs.
  • Check certificates and alarms: Make sure safety certificates are up-to-date and that any smoke or carbon monoxide alarms are in working order for new tenancies
  • Test outside lights: Safety and security are both important, especially on dark nights when tenants can easily trip or slip and to keep prowlers at bay

Spending a few minutes on winter maintenance can save time and money when the weather turns really cold or wet and windy.