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Friday, November 24, 2017

Tis the season for landlords to pay attention

In the run-up to Christmas, it’s easy for property owners to take their eye off the ball as they get distracted by the festivities. But burst pipes, homes left unoccupied and damage from parties can soon diminish the sparkle…

Ahead of the festive season, it’s important that landlords pay extra attention to their properties as Christmas and winter can throw up a host of troublesome issues.

We look at some of the costly problems you might face and how to avoid them. That way, you can look forward to a stress-free Christmas with turkey and all the trimmings confident in the knowledge that all’s well with your world.

Cracks in pipework

As the cold weather sets in, rental properties are particularly vulnerable to frozen pipes that can crack and burst. Make sure you inspect the pipes and brickwork in your properties thoroughly. If you spot any cracks, get them fixed as soon as possible.

Burst pipes can cause flooding, damaging ceilings, walls and carpets, especially if a home is left empty. According to Yorkshire Water, the average cost to repair a burst pipe in the home is £6,500-£7,500 [S1]

Although burst pipes are unfortunate for both landlord and tenant, you can make the repair process as quick and painless as possible if you have a record of the property’s condition before and after the pipes burst.

Homes left unoccupied

Landlords should find out about their tenants’ plans over the festive period – most importantly whether the property is going to be left unoccupied for a couple of weeks or more over the holidays.

If tenants are spending Christmas elsewhere, they should switch off the water at the mains before they go. The water supply to outside taps should also be turned off.

You may want to check on the property to make sure everything is ticking over nicely until the tenants get back.

Tenancy agreements usually include a clause about vacating the property for more than 14 days. If the house is being left unoccupied for an extended period, you should check your insurance policy as you might not be covered.

Damage caused by parties

Over the festive period, tenants may have friends and family round for drinks and nibbles, or even full-on parties, but accidents can happen. One in five guests say they wouldn’t admit to causing damage to a property during a Christmas party [S2], so both landlords and tenants need to be wary of this. 

Tenants have a duty to report any damage immediately, and agree with the landlord on how repairs are arranged. If the tenant doesn’t notify you of the damage, you can deduct an amount from the deposit or take legal action. Is

Unsafe Christmas decorations

Similarly, tenants may want to deck the halls – and other rooms for that matter – with lights, tinsel, candles and baubles. You need to make it clear what is and isn’t acceptable as some decorations could cause safety risks. For instance, are tenants allowed to decorate the roof? Remind them to switch off any Christmas lights when unattended, and don’t leave candles near flammable objects.

Tenants falling into rent arrears

Sadly, Christmas is one of the most common times for tenants getting behind with their rent because they have presents, food and festive events to pay for.

You should create a contingency plan for December and the New Year to protect yourself against rent arrears. One way you can do this is by taking out rent guarantee insurance, which covers your expenses if your tenants can’t pay you. Cover purchased as part of Legal Expenses adds on, qualifying criteria apply. Restricted claims for existing tenants in the first 90 days when product first purchased, residential landlords only.  You should also think about setting aside some of your savings in case your income suffers over Christmas.

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