Wet and windy weather can wreak havoc on rental properties. Ahead of the deluge, ensure your investment property is prepared with these winter-time maintenance tips.
Winter should be all about cosying up on the couch with a mug of something hot – but all too often, landlords and their agents are called out to the rental (inevitably in torrential rain) to deal with damage caused by wild weather and seasonal mishaps.
It won’t surprise you to know that insurance claims for water damage spike in winter as heavy rain, hail, storms and flooding ensue.
Water’s not the only element that wreaks havoc in the winter. It’s been estimated that up to 11,000 house fires occur in Australia every year – with a spike in insurance claims in winter. Common causes of winter home fires include logs and embers escaping a fireplace, electric heater failure, faulty chimney flues, faulty ducted heating, gas heaters, electric blanket failures, and bathroom heat lamps exploding.
Now you can’t control the elements, but some proactive maintenance – outside and in – can help reduce the risk of your investment property suffering damage this winter. It will also help safeguard your insurance policy, as adequately maintaining the premises is a condition of cover. If you haven’t kept up-to-date with repairs, you could find part, or all, of your claim rejected.
Before the wild weather descends, arrange for some maintenance to be carried out at the rental.
Outside, you might want to consider:
- Having the roof checked for leaks, loose sheets or cracked tiles
- Pruning overhanging trees and branches so they can’t fall on the home or power lines
- Making sure there are no overhanging branches near the chimney
- Repairing damaged windows and doors
- Anchoring structures that could take flight in heavy winds (like pergolas and fences)
- Checking gutters, drains and downpipes are free-flowing and in good repair
- Making sure rainwater easily drains away from all sides of the property
- Checking that any paving running alongside the house drains water away from, not towards, the walls
- Ensuring garden beds aren’t built up high against the outside wall above the damp-proof course
- Checking on water pipes in and around the property, especially in areas where pipes may freeze
- Inspecting walkways, stairs and driveways for damage, slip hazards or water pooling issues
- Making sure any exterior structures that may be subject to storm damage are sound, such as patios and pergolas, outdoor steps and handrails, sheds, fences, and decks
- Ensuring chemicals and poisons kept in sheds are stored above ground level
- Supplying sandbags and tarps at the property
Inside the rental property:
- Check the ceiling for leaks or seepage, brown/yellow/copper stains or water marks, bubbling or peeling paint, signs of mould, obvious sagging or cracked cornices or plaster work – they are sure signs of damage or weak spots elsewhere
- Look for leaks or gaps around vents and chimneys
- Investigate walls for signs of water stains, bubbling, cracking or peeling paint or wallpaper
- Inspect the ceiling insulation
- Have any heating appliances (gas, wood, oil or electric) checked and serviced
- Ensure hot water systems are working properly
- Make sure an adequate number of suitable smoke alarms are correctly installed and positioned throughout the home and they are regularly tested (always test them during inspections)
- Consider supplying fire extinguishers and fire blankets at the property
- Make sure fireplaces are in good working order – get the chimney professionally cleaned, ensure the fireplace is properly ventilated and have the structural integrity checked (brickwork, chimney and flue)
- Supply a fire screen for use in each fireplace
You should engage professionals to carry out inspections, installations and repair works, especially those in relation to heating, plumbing, roofing and electricals. Be sure to check that the tradie is insured and holds any required qualifications and licences.
If the rental is damaged, it is important that you understand the obligation to act to prevent further loss is a condition of insurance. This means you may need to put up tarps, board up windows and doors or arrange urgent repairs. Speaking of urgent repairs, there are legislated timeframes for making urgent and emergency repairs and you need to make sure you meet these – failing to do so can not only get you in hot water with the authorities but could also jeopardise your insurance cover.
Take the time to arrange for a bit of maintenance to be carried out at the rental ahead of winter and you may reduce the risk of the property suffering seasonal damage and of you having to brave the elements to tend to repairs.
*While we have taken care to ensure the information above is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances and legislation after the displayed date may impact the accuracy of this article. If you need us we are there, contact 1800 661 662 if you have any questions.