Top tips for tenants in the lead up to winter

As autumn is upon us and winter is fast approaching, now is the time for tenants to consider any works which will need to be undertaken to their rented property to adequately prepare for colder weather. Tara Kelly, head of lettings at Savills Winchester, provides a check list of jobs which tenants should take into consideration in a timely manner:

Gutters and drains

•           Most common tenancy agreements put the responsibility for clearing drains and gutters with the tenant. It is therefore vital that you ensure that these are cleared and free-running throughout the winter period as landlords will be justifiably entitled to claim compensation for any damage done to the house as a result of block drains and gutters.

Holiday periods

•           If you are planning a holiday over the winter period you should ensure that you make adequate arrangements for somebody to check on the house, and make sure that you keep the heating on low to avoid freezing pipes. A landlord could claim from the tenant for costs in the event that damage was to occur.

Bleed radiators

•           A long cold snap will inevitably increase heating bills substantially; therefore you should check that your heating system is working efficiently by regularly bleeding the radiators. If a radiator is cold at the top and hot at the bottom, it will need bleeding, but take care to put down a rag under the radiator to avoid dirty spill or spray damaging the floor.

Find your stopcock

•           Even a small split in a water pipe can cause a huge amount of damage, therefore if you do not know where the main stopcock is you should find it as soon as possible. By quickly switching off the water supply in the event of a leak you could significantly reduce damage.

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Check oil/LPG levels

•           The last thing you will need in the depths of winter is an empty oil or LPG tank. Particularly in snowy conditions where fuel deliveries are compromised, you should regularly check the levels and refill well in advance of usual.

Smoke & CO Alarms

•           Smoke and CO alarms should be checked regularly to ensure that they are in working order, do 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.

Clean chimneys

•           Chimneys should be swept as often as necessary, but at least annually even if the fire is not often used. Blocked flues are not only inefficient; the poor draw of smoke can cause damage to the property as well as health issues. Sweeps are often busy heading into winter so book early.

“Aside from helping to maintain the property, this 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,” said Tara. “Tenants do need to be aware that, under the terms of their tenancy agreement, not all aspects of property maintenance are covered, including the items listed above.”