The Copenhagen Climate Change Conference is underway, we’ve had severe flooding in Cumbria, the “barbecue summer” is a distant memory and US forecasters are predicting a harsh and snowy winter. It’s likely you’re already suffering from “weather fatigue” but adequately preparing your let property for winter could save a lot of time and expense.
How can global warming cause colder winters?
If you look at a globe, the UK is actually quite a lot further north than our temperate climate would suggest. The Canada/USA border is largely set at 49 degrees north, whereas London sits at 51 degrees north. What keeps us warm is the Gulf Stream, pushing warm water across the Atlantic and preventing Artic water from cooling us down too much.
Unfortunately, one effect of the melting icecap is that more cold water is moving southwards and this could stop the Gulf Stream, or divert it further south, benefiting Spain, rather than us. This is perhaps not a The Day After Tomorrow scenario, but certainly a recipe for harsher winter conditions.
Is this going to happen soon?
Nobody knows how long this will take to come to pass – or if it will at all – but one thing is certain: landlords would be well advised to ensure that their property is winter-ready, or they could find that insurers question whether negligence has contributed towards a landlord insurance claim.
What action should landlords take?
As an absolute minimum, you should ensure that all the let properties you own are well maintained and protected against the most obvious winter perils. For example, pipes that are exposed to cold – such as outside or in the roof – should be properly lagged to prevent freezing. Frozen pipes are bad enough, but the subsequent water damage once the pipes thaw can be costly indeed.
If your property is likely to be left unoccupied for any period of time, it is also a good idea to drain the water completely to avoid accidental leakage (probably good advice at any time of year). Check your landlord insurance policy for other cover restrictions or precautions that may be required when the property is empty. If in any doubt, speak to your insurance broker.
A poorly maintained let property can also lead to problems in winter. If guttering and down-pipes become blocked by leaves, this can lead to water overflowing against the external walls and gradually seeping through to affect internal decorations. Again, if this is due to lack of maintenance, your landlord insurance policy will not meet a claim in full – or perhaps at all. And if windows – especially wooden ones – are not properly maintained, deterioration can lead to ease of access by criminals, with resulting damage, not to mention draughts increasing your tenants’ heating bills!
It is also a good idea to ensure that your boiler has been inspected in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommended schedule and that your roof is sound. Winter storms will soon expose any weaknesses.
We always recommend that let property is properly maintained. It not only protects you against unnecessary losses but can also help to increase rental – and resale – values. Remember that making a claim on your landlord insurance policy can result in increased premiums so anything you can do avoid losses will be to your advantage.
Choosing the right landlord insurance
It is important to seek independent professional advice before making any decision about your landlord insurance. You should always ask your insurance advisers what experience they have of dealing with residential landlords insurance and/or commercial property owners insurance.
We’re specialists in landlord insurance and can help you to arrange the right cover for your let property. Give us a call on 01603 216399 today to find out more.