With the colder months of winter comes a whole host of issues with heating, water and other property maintenance issues. Many tenants will start to report issues with boilers and heating, as the need to use these starts to become more prevalent.
As a landlord, you have a duty of care to your tenants and an obligation under s.11 of The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, to carry out certain repairs to the Property. It is therefore important to resolve any issues as soon as possible. Leaving these problems can result in a dispute which can be costly and time-consuming.
What repairs are you required to complete?
Under s.11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, the landlord is required to carry out repairs to:
- The structure and exterior of the dwelling.
- The installations for the supply of water, gas, electricity and sanitation.
- The installations and supplies of water heating and space heating.
- Any communal areas and installations that are associated with property.
You may also have additional responsibilities within the tenancy agreement or under various other regulations.
Make sure to service the boilers in the summer
As above, you are responsible for heating within the property, therefore planning ahead with your boiler servicing and maintenance can save you many problems in the future. This will not only help you to prepare the boiler for the colder months, but if the boiler needs to be replaced, it won’t cause as much disturbance to the tenant.
A broken or faulty boiler can often be time-consuming to fix and in the colder months can severely impact the tenant’s enjoyment of the property. This is why it’s advised to prepare before winter hits.
Oversee any repairs and make sure they are done in a timely manner
Sometimes, trusting a third party to deal with maintenance and repairs can cause delays in things getting fixed. Unreliable tradesmen and miscommunication can all lead to frustration with the tenant.
Make sure you oversee the complaint from the minute the tenant files it, through the repair process. This ensures that you show an interest in getting the tenant’s issue sorted as quickly as possible and reduces any liability which you may otherwise incur.
Check all the pipes
With freezing temperatures during the winter, pipes can easily burst or crack. The best way to prevent this is to keep your central heating on at intervals throughout the day.
It is useful to ensure that your tenancy agreement places the above obligation upon the tenants in the winter months and/or places a requirement for your tenants to inform you if the property will be vacant for a certain period of time. This will ensure that the pipes continue to be in good working order and, should the tenant fail to act in the above manner, allow you to avoid liability for pipes damaged in this way.
Check all gutters for blockages
Especially during autumn, when the leaves start to fall off the trees, drains and gutters can become blocked. This can cause leakages and breakages when the weather gets colder and wetter. Make sure to keep on top of cleaning the gutters and removing any leaves or dirt that may have built up over the summer and autumn.
Blocked or leaking gutters can cause damp in the property and a potential claim by a tenant.
As from the 1st April 2018, The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property)(England and Wales) Regulations 2015 will require rental properties to have a minimum energy performance rating of E on an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). These regulations will come into effect in two stages; from 1st April 2018 for new lets and renewals of tenancies, followed by existing tenancies from 1st April 2020.
It will, therefore, be unlawful to rent a property with an EPC rating lower than E, unless there is an applicable exemption. Ensuring that your property is sufficiently insulated will, therefore, be important in order to meet these regulations and ensure that you are not faced with a fine for breaching the same. You should begin to consider your property and its needs now, in order to meet the April 2018 deadline.
By keeping on top of the maintenance of the property and having annual checks of the pipes and boiler, you can dramatically decrease the chance of having to deal with disputes during the winter.
If you would like any more information on dispute resolution, get in touch with us today. We can help you resolve any disputes you may have with your tenants with our streamlined and efficient process.