Property maintenance: weathering winter storms.

Abigail, Barney, Clodagh and Desmond – what the first four severe storms were called following the Met Office’s decision to give bad weather names. It’s another reminder of how our little island gets battered and bruised by Mother Nature.

Inclement weather shouldn’t take us by surprise but as we enter the season of gales, snow, sub zero temperatures and flooding, it’s wise to remind landlords and tenants of the measures they can take to protect their properties. A simple email or letter with these pointers may stop a small niggle turning into a major emergency.

Freezing conditions – when the mercury drops below zero, the biggest danger is water freezing in pipes. The ice can expand, cracking the pipe and leading to a leak when the water reflows. People can combat this by leaving their central heating on low throughout cold snaps, opening the loft hatch to let warm air rise, by lagging pipes wherever possible (inside and out), and turning off the stop cock if the property is left unattended for extended periods.

High winds – gales can be devastating and we have lost track of the number of emergency calls we have taken where fence panels have been found in the neighbour’s garden. Wood becomes weak when it rots so regularly inspect panels and posts for sign of deterioration. Trampolines and parasols can also prove a danger in gales, so advise to tie these down if a storm is predicted.

Loss of utilities – high winds and snow can bring down power cables, while burst mains pipes can disrupt water supplies. Property managers will no doubt have fielded calls regarding loss of electricity, gas or water but the first port of call should always be the utility supplier. Ensure you provide emergency telephone numbers and website addresses for tenants if they experience difficulties.

Floods – when a month’s rain falls in one day or snow melts rapidly, there is always the potential for flooding. If a property is in a flood area, make sure the tenant is prepared with the right flood defences, whether these are sandbags or flood gates.

Inclement weather often strikes overnight or at the weekend – when you’re battening down your own hatches. Here at ARPM Outsourced Lettings Support we take over the emergency maintenance telephone lines for many leading property management companies and letting agents on an out-of-hours basis. Our team can qualify the emergency, dispatch a trusted tradesman and keep an audit trail for accountability – whether it’s 2pm on a Sunday or 2am on a Tuesday. Ask us about our outsource service this winter.

ARPM

Simon Duce is the Founder and Managing Director of ARPM Outsourced Lettings Support - a business designed to help small and start-up letting agents/property managers offer a full suite of property management and tenancy administration services through outsourcing.

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