With summer having turned into autumn in the blink of an eye, it's time for landlords and homeowners to turn their attentions to some pre-Christmas property maintenance.
With winter on the horizon, it won't be long until the freeze arrives. The time to ensure your property is up to withstanding the ravages of the cold season is now.
For the landlords among you, you should also make sure you have briefed your tenants on basic routine tasks they should undertake in order to keep the property's plumbing and heating systems functioning until the spring.
It's easy as a tenant to assume the landlord is responsible for all the workings of your rental property, but that is not the case.
WHAT SHOULD I ADVISE MY TENANTS DO AS A LANDLORD?
The best thing to do is draw up a list of 'trouble' spots for tenants to keep an eye out for, as well as making sure they know who to contact in the event of a problem.
Make sure they are aware of how the heating system works and advise they keep the heating running in the background so avoid issues like condensation and mould. Many tenants keep the heating off for long periods either to try to save money, or because they don't use the system properly.
A cold house with steam from baths and showers as well as cooking, can cause condensation, which quickly develops into nasty, and harmful, black mould spores.
Keeping the house warm will help prevent this, as well as ensuring the perils of frozen pipes don't cause an even more costly problem.
Advise your tenants to keep a look out for blockages in guttering and downpipes which could cause excess water to run down the side of the property creating damp spots.
Most importantly, make sure your tenants know where the water stop cock is. Quick action in the event of a leak can save huge money in water damage repairs.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD LANDLORDS AND HOMEOWNERS DO PRE-WINTER?
There are a host of checks that should be made to prepare your property for winter.
Waiting or hoping for the best are not good options here and some elbow grease and money spent now could save you much more in the long run.
Here are our five top tips for making sure your property is protected this winter...
LAG THOSE PIPES
But before you do, thoroughly check the pipework in your property for any signs of damage or cracking.
Even if you spot a minor defect, follow up by inviting an expert for a second opinion and if some work needs to be completed, get it done now.
Pipe problems not remedied are a recipe for disaster in the event of a big freeze. Once you are happy that your pipes are in sound condition, get them lagged to prevent them from freezing and, as we said above, keep the heating running in the background.
SERVICE YOUR BOILER
One of the most expensive breakdowns during the winter is a boiler malfunction. The key here is regular maintenance and servicing, so if your boiler hasn't had a service for a while, get one done as soon as you can.
Not only will this save you money in the long term, if you're a landlord it will show your tenant you are doing your best to keep them happy - and a happy tenant is a tenant who stays, saving you even more money.
CLEAR YOUR GUTTERING
Storms like Deidre, which battered the west of the country just last week, leave a trail of fallen leaves, twigs, branches and other detritus in guttering and downpipes.
If rain water has nowhere to go due to blockages, it will opt for the side of your home which can cause major damage and damp problems.
Call in an expert to clear your guttering and downpipes before the weather gets colder and put in place drain guards which can stop things like fallen leaves blocking your system in future months.
UP ON THE ROOF
In the middle of storms like Deidre, broken roof tiles are unfortunately a strong possibility. Before the weather gets colder, call in a professional to examine your roof for broken or damaged tiles.
A leaking roof can take time to show itself through damage so it's worth checking it out now - but remember to call in a roofing specialist. Working at height can be dangerous and is not advised for novices or DIY homeowners.
SWEEP THE FIREPLACE
Chances are your fireplace has not seen any action during an unusually hot spring and summer in the UK.
With that in mind, it's worth having it serviced. There is a possibility that debris may have built up and this could make the fire unsafe.
Carbon Monoxide fumes and chimney fires are a major hazard so calling in an expert for a sweep through really is a must at this time of year before you get that fire roaring.
If you have any questions feel free to ask your local branch who will be happy to share their advice and details of any local contractors who can help you.