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The complete guide to protecting your property in 2023


Top tips to prevent burst pipes

  • Check for leaks as part of regular inspections Lag any internal pipes that are located in the colder areas of the property and insulate external pipes to protect them against frost. Seal any air leaks that are allowing cold air to enter your property where pipes are located, for example around dryer vents
  • Get the boiler serviced every 12 months before winter to prevent breakdowns during cold spells, and make sure you arrange an annual gas safety check. Set the thermostat to 13 °C, day and night, between November and April if the property is unoccupied, for example if your tenants are going on holiday
  • Make sure that your tenants know they should contact you as soon as they spot any damage, such as leaks or a blocked toilet, and provide them with the details of a trusted emergency plumber
  • Ask tenants to turn off the water mains at the stopcock if they are going away

Top tips to prevent storm damage

  • Include an external inspection, in daylight, on visits to your rental property, paying particular attention to loose roof tiles, guttering, downpipes and trees
  • Once or twice a year, clear gutters and drains of debris (late autumn is a good time to do this), trim trees (this is best done in winter when the leaves are gone), inspect the roof and carry out repairs and check that windows and doors are watertight and secure
  • Make sure fence panels are properly secured as they are usually excluded from insurance policies
  • Check that garden gates are secure and kept closed
  • Check the Met Office weather forecast regularly to make sure you are prepared and can take extra precautions if you know a storm is approaching

Top tips to prevent flooding

  • Check your risk of flooding at GOV.UK
  • Particularly if the property is in an area known to be at higher risk of flooding, there are a number of preventative measures landlords can take:
  • Use permeable paving surfaces, install water-resistant windows, doors and flooring instead of carpets and wooden floors, and use waterproof wall sealant
  • Keep lightweight, modern versions of sandbags for tenants to use to stop water entering through exterior doors and vents Install non-return valves for toilets and sewer pipes, to prevent water from backing up into the property if groundwater rises (particularly in properties susceptible to sewage overflow) If a property is very high risk, it may be worth having a built-in sump and pump system to pump out water from below floor level
  • Make sure tenants know to make you aware of any maintenance issues that may increase the risk of damage if there were to be a flood If your property is in a high flood risk location, talk to your tenants in person about what to do in the event of a flood, and provide them with this information in writing in their information pack
  • Make sure tenants know how to turn off the gas, electricity and water
  • Be sure to carry out regular maintenance, as flood insurance does not cover maintenance issues, damage occurring gradually over time or any pre-existing damage or wear and tear Keep drains and gutters clear of debris so that, in the event of a flood, water is enabled to run away from the property

Top tips to prevent break-in

  • Install good quality doors with deadbolts and locks – we recommend five-lever mortice deadlocks where possible.
  • A chain and peephole on the front door will provide peace of mind and an extra layer of security to tenants
  • A smart doorbell can help increase security by detecting motion Install window locks which can be operated from the inside, particularly on the ground and first floors
  • Make sure you change passwords on any digital locks between tenancies
  • A burglar alarm is an effective deterrent – visual alarm systems that combine a sonic alarm with a visual deterrent such as flashing lights are the most effective
  • Use motion sensors outside the property to illuminate dark areas and detect the movement of any intruder, and keep shrubs and trees well-trimmed to deter would be intruders from attempting to hide or using trees to gain access through upstairs windows Create a ‘noisy’ front garden by having a gravel driveway and a front gate
  • Get to know the neighbours - communities that work together are much more likely to be vigilant and notice anything out of the ordinary
  • Make sure your tenants know they should report any security issues to you immediately so that you can rectify them as promptly as possible
  • Talk your tenant through any security measures and give them to your tenant as part of a ‘welcome pack’ along with the tenancy agreement and inventory. This could include:
  • Making sure they activate any security systems when they go out
  • Asking them to pay particular attention to garden security
  • Keeping valuables out of view Making sure they lock all doors and windows
  • Letting you know if they are going to be leaving the property empty

Top tips to prevent fire

  • Carry out a fire safety risk assessment, through a third party fire safety specialist if necessary
  • Make sure all smoke and CO alarms are working at the start of the tenancy and ask tenants to check them on a monthly basis. It’s also a good idea to check them during inspections and keep a written record that you have done this
  • Install fire doors in high-risk rooms such as the kitchen, to prevent fire spreading
  • Make sure tenants know how to exit the property and include a clear emergency exit plan in their information pack
  • Make sure that electrical safety checks are carried out, and warn tenants about overloading sockets Extinguishers and fire blankets are not legally required in single-let rented properties, only HMOs, but it’s a good idea to provide them in case of an emergency
  • Ban smoking inside and either ban candles too or make sure your tenants know how to burn them safely
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