Winter can make effects on our homes – whether we’re living in them or renting them out. The claims data shows that claims increase especially during the winter months.
There are a number of preventive steps you can take to secure your HMO during the severe winter weather.
Cold weather can cause flooding, roof damage, and burst pipes, all of which are not ideal for an HMO property. As people begin to light fires and use heaters to warm the house – there is also a big risk of fire damage during these months.
Another risk that occurs because of the long nights is a risk of burglary, you can lose your Christmas presents and other treasures.
So we have gathered useful tips to help you keep your HMO well looked after winter.
Let’s see how you can protect your HMO from the unforgiving winter weather as well as how you can ward off burglars and reduce the risk of burst pipes.
Recent research revealed that 34% of all claims paid out since 2008 have been for the escape of water situations.
This is because even the smallest leak can cause significant property damage if not spotted and taken care of on time.
More than 3/4 of the escape of water claims filed in 2016 were caused by a burst pipe.
Burst pipe claims are so popular because even a small damage can release major volumes of water and result in surprisingly heavy claims, with water damage and repair bills that have been known to clock in at over £100,000!
Burst pipes can lead to:
- Structural and cosmetic damage of your HMO and neighboring properties
- Damage the furniture, fixtures, fittings, and appliances
- Expense and hassle of repair/restoration work and relocation of tenants
- Stress and inconvenience for landlords, tenants, and neighbors
- Loss of rental income due to a vacant property while repairs are carried out
In case of a burst pipe, to reduce the spread of the damage and the size of the claim, aside from ensuring that your residents know what to do and whom to contact, you should also make sure that:
- The water and electricity are shut off and that tenants and guests know how to do so
- The building is properly surveyed for potential water damage
- Water is contained and furniture and belongings are removed from affected areas
- A dehumidifier is used to remove any resultant dampness from the property
- Emergency plumbers have been contacted to locate and fix the leak
- Evidence of water damage has been collected
Eventually, your main enemy will be pipe contraction, which will make your pipes weak and could lead to a rupture at the end. Share this advice list with your residents for a quick fix.
When the temperature drops during the winter months there is a big risk of frozen pipes, which can cause leaks and flooding in your HMO. A burst pipe can be tragical, leading to thousands of pounds worth of damage and major inconvenience for you and your residents.
Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take to avoid frozen pipes in your HMO, lowering the risk of a burst pipe and the devastation that can cause:
- Minimise draughts from outdoors by keeping doors and windows closed
- Insulate pipes and water tanks
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinets to allow warm air to circulate around the plumbing
- Inspect your pipes regularly
- Keep the pipes running regularly, several hours a day
- Seal and identify any air leaks
- Advise tenants to keep the heating on for at least 20 minutes every other day during winter
Thawing frozen pipes
If your pipes got frozen, it’s important to be careful as if a pipe has already burst you could start a flood in your home.
To thaw a frozen pipe, firstly turn the water off at the stop cock and check to see if any pipes have burst.
Turn the faucet on z little to allow a trickle of water to run through the pipes and begin applying heat to the affected section using electric heating pads, space heaters or even hair dryers.
Continue applying heat until the water pressure is normal again. If you can not locate the frozen area or you don’t have access to it, it’s always a good idea to call in a professional plumber.
Your first priority when preparing for winter must be avoiding burst pipes.
Preparing your boiler for winter
The best way to protect your HMO from damage is to take care of your boiler.
Do an informal inspection before calling the professionals. Check cracks and signs of leaks, check the pressure gauge to ensure the pressure is at the optimum level (between 1 and 1.5 bar) and test the radiators.
The next step is to check and bleed the radiators, which is an important task as radiators are responsible for 27.5% of water escape claims.
You will also need to isolate your indoor and outdoor pipes, which are more sensitive to freezing.
The best way to prepare your boiler though is to have a good relationship with your residents. Work with them to make sure they know how to look after the boiler and that they are aware that the temperature in the property should never be lower than 13 degrees.
As an HMO landlord, you are responsible for the gas safety of the gas appliances and pipework in your property. As winter draws in, make sure that the heating systems are safe, working and efficient is essential.
Covering your back
To get the right cover today will assure you are not out of pocket tomorrow and with the average claim now coming in at £2,657, it’s crucial that all landlords are properly covered.