A Landlord's Guide to Christmas
December 19, 2018
The Christmas period can be an opportune time for landlords, but it’s not without its challenges. While you rely on your tenants to keep your property safe and secure many of them may be spending significant time away from home. Winter can also see a rise in maintenance issues that are better nipped in the bud. Fortunately, being proactive and scheduling timely checks on your property can go a long way to mitigating any problems.
The best thing you can do is to promptly contact your tenants and ask if there is anything that needs to be done. They are after all in the best position to recognise any problems and will be more than happy to get them resolved as soon as possible. Quickly dealing with utility, security or maintenance issues will ensure your property is kept in the best possible condition, as well as preserve a healthy relationship with your tenants. No one wants any emergency situations, especially over Christmas!
Service boilers and heating
Schedule a boiler check and service – Christmas sees the heat rise for turkeys and nut roasts alike, but it also piles on the pressure for utilities. With that in mind early December is an excellent time to schedule a boiler service, and ask them to bleed the radiators too. The boiler company will check to ensure that the boiler is running efficiently, saving everyone money, and also mitigate any worries that it might conk out on Christmas day. It will also reassure your tenants that there are no carbon monoxide leaks or faults in the gas line.
If it gets particularly cold during winter then the drainage pipe may freeze. You should make sure that your tenants are aware that the first thing they should do is try to thaw the external condensate pipe. Checking these simple things first can save a lot of unnecessary time and money.
Check electrical appliances and safety checks
Almost half of all domestic fires are caused by electrical faults, be that from the mains or from electrical appliances that are brought into the house. While it is not your job to supervise your tenant’s lights it might be worth sending a friendly card asking them to remember to turn off any fairy lights when they are not in. You could even provide them with timers to make it as easy as possible to manage their usage.
If you do have the boiler serviced then the company will typically check smoke alarms functions properly too (if they don’t, insist that they do or use a more rigorous company). Many people enjoy the odd drink at Christmas or are away at Christmas, so it is even more important than usual that the alarms are fully functional and loud.
Ensure security by checking locks and doors
Christmas also provides the perfect opportunity for eagle-eyed ne’er-do-wells. Many tenants may go somewhere else for their festivities, and piles of presents are as tempting for thieves as they are for everyone else. Make sure that you find out if there are any issues with locks or doors that should be sorted out, and if there is an alarm in place that it is operational and being used. Your tenants’ possessions will probably not be insured under your house insurance, so it is ultimately up to them to insure their belongings. However, you should help secure your property to the best of your ability, for your sake and the tenants’.
You might consider asking your tenants if they are going away at all, and letting them know your plans as well. You should let your tenants know your plan of action if there is an emergency at the property while they are away. Have all of the keys for the property ready to go, just in case. If there is going to be a long period of time where the property is vacant and you are not near to look after it.
Deal with winter issues
There are many things that can go wrong during the cold winter months, but most of them can be prevented or mitigated with proper maintenance. Leaves and muck can block guttering, causing untold headaches from lingering smells to severe water damage. Regular checking and clearing if required will go a long way to preventing serious problems as well as keep your tenants happy. If a tenant is concerned about damp it might be worth buying them a dehumidifier in the interim if it is going to be difficult for you to fix it quickly.
The easiest way to keep everyone happy as this busy time of year is to be flexible, within reason of course. If you do have to go round the property and see the odd blu tack mark, or other cosmetic issues then try not to mention it. Unless it is a problem that needs resolving quickly then it is better to leave it for another time. If you are concerned about tenants doing something you are not happy with then just call them and let them know what you are happy for them to do. It is better to have tenants who will treat the property as their home, and look after it as it as such, than to be over strict and develop an acrimonious relationship. Making allowances for small festive changes such as decorations and outside Christmas lights will go a long way to keeping your tenants happy and your property respected.
Once all of this is done you can sit back, relax and enjoy the Christmas revelry.
At Vesta, we help you build a healthy relationship with your tenants from the very start. We provide a comprehensive rental history for buy-to-let properties, so you can be confident that your new tenants are dependable. We only deal in tenanted buy-to-let properties to ensure that tenants aren’t evicted if a landlord chooses to sell up. This way, tenants can make your property feel more like a ho-ho-home. Contact our friendly team today to find out more.