Brrr! Cold in Clapham! Are you and your tenants prepared for a cold winter?
I trust you've felt the cold already, November has been a chilly one! Cold does bring some problems when it comes to maintenance, so be sure to cover yourself for the cold eventualities.
- Do you know your property? Always a bonus of course if you have lived in the property prior to renting it out; do you know how the heating controls work? Do you know what to do if a radiator doesn't work? Tenants often times don't especially if they are used to a different type of heating system (electric radiators don't need bleeding of course). Be sure that when you do get the call that they've tried all the obvious things, and speaking from experience YouTube is a saviour! What's that expression, a picture says 1000 words but a video...)??
- Condensation. A big bug bear of course. If the property is not properly heated and ventilated then condensation will build up and eventually lead to mould. Over the years I have found that tenants don't want to spend money on heating when they aren't home etc, and yes I can see the point in that, but a property simply does need to be heated to a certain extent to get rid of the condensation and dry out the air. Hot, dry air needs to be circulating. So be sure to advise them to open the curtains, letting in light (and heat), keep the internal doors open and get the heating nice and hot on a regular basis to dry out the moisture in the air. Not properly airing and heating the property can take its toll on paint work, wooden windows and in the bathroom can lead to that awful black mould on the silicone filler around the bath. All this will cost a lot more to redo than simply flicking the heating on. Point your tenants in the right direction to make a cost-effective switch of their utility tariffs through one of the energy price comparison sites (gocompare, confused, moneysupermarket, uswitch).
- Fire! With all the Christmas decorations and candles up and around it would be wise to test the smoke alarms, and whilst your at it your carbon monoxide detector. Don't be alarmed if you don't have one, the legal obligation for a CO detector is only there in rooms with a solid fuel burner (not gaseous fuel, because...it's a gas). Still not a bad idea to have one though!
- Don't get locked out. One of the most obvious problems I've ever come across in my property career is keys. When I don't have them I simply cannot get in. The same goes for many a landlord I've met - they don't keep a spare key. Think! Emergency repairs for instance; you'll need to get in, won't you? Viewings? Yep you'll need to get in too. Inspections? Access is also required. Make sure that you have a key in order to get you or your agent (or your tenant if they've locked themselves out) back in!
- Do simple repairs before they get worse. That leaky tap? Water will find its way down and dissolve the cupboard below. Slow leak? Will leave a patch on the ceiling of the room below. Make sure that you are on top of these things and above all else remind your tenants to tell you if things go wrong, no matter how small they may be. Small niggly things add up to bigger things, which ultimately may be the reason that the tenants move out, causing you voids and a big repair job as well as annoyed tenants (when they move in and the place is falling down around them). Having tenants that report repairs is worth gold, but make sure you prompt them. Remind them this isn't the 80s and you are a good landlord, you aren't going to evict them for telling you something needs doing!
I hope everyone has a trouble free winter! If you are interested in learning more about managing your investments wisely then do get in touch. I even offer a range of investment options such as portfolio building for high yield and maximum capital appreciation with hands-off management if that route interests you. Get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org or come down to the Clapham Property Meet and learn more about getting the best returns in the London property market.