Preparing your rental for winter weather

Staff profile: Celica Olsson

The winter seasons is in full swing – make sure your rental property is prepared.
Wild weather along the eastern seaboard has wreaked havoc and already racked up an insurance bill in excess of $235 million this winter. But it’s not just catastrophic storms that can lead to damage bills – last winter, RentCover policyholders made claims for storm damage tallying around almost $1 million.
If your rental property suffers storm damage, lack of maintenance could be a determining factor on the extent of cover you will have for an insurance claim. Damage resulting from neglect is generally excluded from most home and contents and/or landlord policies. 
To help protect your investment property, and make sure you are covered should the worst happen, make sure you have basic winter maintenance in hand, such as: 
  • Trees – arrange for any trees on your property to be pruned so that they do not pose a risk of falling on the home or power lines.
  • Gutters and roofs – clean out all gutters of leaves and other debris. Check downpipes for leaks and misalignments and make sure they are carrying water away from the home. Survey roofs for damaged and loose tiles/ridge capping (or the joins for tin roofs). Also check the flashings and valleys for blockages and rust. Pay particular attention around chimneys, skylights and vents.
  • General maintenance – repair damaged window frames and doors. Makes 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.
Damage from storms is not the only winter hazard to watch out for. With the cold and wet come risks associated with heating – from faulty appliances that emanate toxic gases to fires. Be vigilant with this maintenance:
  • Heating – ensure any supplied heaters and hot water systems are working properly. Use approved inspectors and repairers for gas appliances. If the home has a fireplace, make sure the chimney has been cleaned and inspected.
  • Smoke alarms – check all smoke alarms are working and fire extinguishers are operational.
If your property is damaged, the income you may lose in lost rent needs insurance consideration. While building and contents insurance may cover the damage to the property it is important to ensure you are also covered for the loss of rent if the property is temporarily or permanently uninhabitable. The right policy designed specifically for investment properties will ensure you are covered for physical damage as well as financial assistance if the damage means loss of rent. 
Reminder: if your property does suffer damage, you have an obligation to mitigate further losses and make repairs in a timely manner. Our team is available to advise you and help make the claims process easier if your property is damaged.