Hopefully your landlord has already done his or her part in preparing your property for winter – servicing the boiler, lagging the pipes, checking for minor structural damage, and so on. But there are several steps that you as a tenant should take in order to stay snug and warm throughout the coldest months, and avoid costly repair bills.
The following check list will help you to keep your property in tip-top condition this winter.
Smoke & CO Alarms
Smoke and CO alarms should be checked regularly to ensure that they are in working order. Test these alarms and replace batteries where necessary. If any alarm is not working following replacement batteries, you should contact your landlord or managing agent who will arrange a replacement unit.
A radiator needs bleeding if it is cold at the top and hot at the bottom. But rather than waiting until your radiators aren't working as they should, it's a good idea to bleed them regularly. This way you will get the best out of your heating system.
Always ensure that your central heating is switched off when bleeding radiators, and protect the area underneath to avoid spills or spray damaging the floor.
Oil or LPG tank levels
If you use oil or LPG fuel, make sure that you check the levels regularly and refill before winter sets in. This is particularly important for areas where snow is likely, as fuel deliveries can be compromised by severe weather conditions.
Find your stopcock
Split water pipes are one of the hazards of a cold winter. Locate your stopcock now so that if the worse does happen, you can quickly switch off the water supply and reduce damage.
Gutters and drains
Generally speaking, the clearing of drains and gutters is the tenant's responsibility, as stated in the tenancy agreement. Landlords will be entitled to claim compensation for any damage done to the house as a result of blocked gutters and drains, so get them checked.
If you’re spending time away from home, set your heating on low to avoid freezing pipes and try to arrange for someone to check on the property from time to time. A landlord could claim for costs if frozen pipes were to cause damage.
Chimneys should be swept as often as necessary, but at least once a year, even if you don't use the fire much. Winter is peak time for sweeps, so book early.
There's not much you can do about the unpredictable British weather, but you can minimise the problems - including power cuts - caused by storms, heavy snow and flooding by putting together an emergency kit. Include candles, matches, logs for the fire, salt for the paths, and so on.
Richard Maby, Head of Savills Henley Lettings, comments:
“Tenants do need to be aware that not all aspects of property maintenance are covered under the terms of their tenancy agreement, including some of the items listed here. These steps will help to ensure a tenant remains warm and dry in even the most adverse weather conditions, and thereby relieve a lot of the stress and strain in dealing with breakdowns.”