Watch out for: When water freezes it expands by over 8% of its original size. This can cause blocked or damaged pipes to crack and burst, causing extensive property damage.
What to do: Check all external pipework for any breaks, blockages or leaks which might be there already, get them fixed and make sure all pipes are securely fixed in place. Ensure that central heating is left on a low setting in unoccupied properties to stop water freezing inside the pipes – make sure tenants are informed of this.
2. Insulation and leaks
Watch out for: Leaks and poor insulation can be an issue in the colder months of the year, with drafts and condensation causing problems like damp, mold and water damage.
What to do: Start with obvious draft sources such as doors and windows, as well as boiler and pipe cladding. Be sure to check that taps and shower fittings are not leaking.
Watch out for: Blocked chimneys can lead to fires and property damage. In winter they see the most usage, so it's vital to maintain and monitor them.
What to do: Get your property's chimney (s) swept at least once a year, and check it regularly through the colder months to protect your property and tenants.
Watch out for: Maintenance related issues are often not covered by standard policies, so it's important to know what you are and are not responsible for. If tenants are intending to leave their residency empty for any period of time, this can also have an impact on your insurer's obligations and your own.
What to do: Check your insurance policy carefully to make sure you know exactly where your obligations lie.
5. Drains, gutters and water systems
Watch out for: Drains, gutters and water systems can not always cope with the excess water and leaf volume they are subjected to in winter. This can cause them to overflow, burst, or break due to the weight of frozen water.
What to do: Get your property's drains and gutters checked and cleaned regularly.
6. Inform your tenants
Watch out for: Your tenants may not know how to deal with the cold weather, and that they need to leave the heating on low while they're out or away to prevent pipes freezing.
What to do: Keep your tenants informed and make sure they have the information they need. The simplest way to do this is to put together information leaflet or flier with basic instructions and explanations.
Hopefully this should keep the worst of the ravages of winter weather at bay, but if something does go wrong, you can usually rely on responsive repairs and maintenance services to sort out the issue.