As wintery conditions take hold, take the time to make sure your rental property is ready to combat the worst of the weather.
The fundamental purpose of a home is to shelter us from the elements. But Australia’s harsh conditions can be taxing for even the hardiest of structures. Insurance claims for water damage spike in winter as heavy rain, hail, storms and flooding ensue. It is also a time when house fires are more common as people settle in with heaters and open fires to make their homes cosy.
Although you can’t control the elements, some proactive maintenance will help reduce the risk of your investment property suffering this winter.
Word to the wise: remember, adequate maintenance is a condition of your landlord insurance. If you have not kept up-to-date with repairs, you could find part or all of your claim rejected.
Grab a mug of hot chocolate, sit under a blanket and check off the list of what you can do to make your rental snug this winter:
“There's no sun up in the sky, stormy weather”
Storms can really wreak havoc and are a leading culprit when it comes to landlord insurance claims, so make sure you:
- Get the roof checked for leaks, loose sheets or cracked tiles
- Prune overhanging trees and branches so they can’t fall on the home or power lines
- Repair damaged windows and doors
- Anchor structures that could take flight in heavy winds (like pergolas, fences and above-ground pools)
- Make sure gutters, drains and downpipes are free-flowing and in good repair
- Channel water to drain away from the property
- Make 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
“Raindrops keep falling on my head”
The pitter-patter of raindrops on a roof can be very soothing – but not so much when the rain is coming in through the ceiling! Water, wind and storms can wreak havoc on the best maintained roofs, but those lacking TLC can suffer major damage. Whether the roof is tin, tile or thatch, check its condition:
- Roof line – is it wavy/undulating or sagging?
- Roof tiles – are there any that are damaged or loose?
- Flashing around skylights, pipes and chimneys – are they deteriorated/torn or unsecured?
- Colorbond/tin roofs – are you missing fastenings?
- Corrugated iron sheets – are they in poor condition or not nailed down?
- Flues and chimneys – are there any damaged bricks or cracked joints?
- Gutters – are there any leaks or rust? Have they been poorly attached? Are they clogged or overflowing?
- Drainpipes – are they bent, clogged or unsecured/unclipped?
If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of the above, it might be time to think about some maintenance.
In addition, you can do some visual checks inside the property to see if there are any obvious issues stemming from above:
- 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
- Look for leaks around vents and chimneys
- Investigate walls for signs of water stains, bubbling, cracking or peeling paint or wallpaper
“Baby, it’s cold outside”
When the temperature dips, the thermostats rise as tenants seek out warmth. Don’t run the risk of safety issues, non-compliance with laws or unhappy tenants:
- Have any heating appliances (gas, wood, oil or electric) checked and serviced
- Ensure hot water systems are working properly
- Only use qualified professionals to install or repair appliances and systems
- Know the legislated timeframes for urgent repairs and meet them
“… as we dream by the fire”
As tenants switch on heaters, light fireplaces, dry clothes indoors, burn candles and use more appliances such as electric blankets, the risk of a home fire increases. Obviously your tenants need to be vigilant, but you can also help reduce the risk of fire damage at your rental:
- Ensure an adequate number of suitable smoke alarms are correctly installed and positioned throughout the home and that they are regularly tested (always test them during inspections)
- Consider supplying fire extinguishers and fire blankets at the property, especially in kitchens, and explain to tenants how to use them correctly
- 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)
“Call me irresponsible, call me unreliable”
Accidents happen and when it’s cold and wet the risk of slips increases. As a landlord, you can be held liable for any injury or damage your tenant or visitors to the property suffer as the result of your negligence. If someone is injured because water fails to disperse due to a leaky roof, dripping taps, blocked drains or unsealed tiles in wet areas, you can be held responsible and made to pay compensation – so it pays to address any issues that could result in pools of water. In addition to making the home ‘slip proof’, limit the risk of being held liable for damage and accidents:
- Check stairs and walkways are safe and well-lit
- Ensure all on-site structures are safe and sound
- Make sure the property is secure
A final word: If your property does suffer damage, you have an obligation to mitigate further losses and make repairs in a timely manner. Our Expert Care team is on hand to guide you through the claims process.
*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.