Investors beware: Jack Frost cometh

Buy-to-let property investors hold the dubious honour of responsibility for the upkeep and maintenance of all of their properties. Tenants are usually unwilling, unable and contractually hamstrung when it comes to repair work, meaning that they are straight on the phone in the event of a disaster.

Many landlords may be used to being woken at all times of the night to respond to burst pipes, collapsed ceilings and incidences of crime – something that comes with the territory when one considers the great profit margins and capital appreciation to be enjoyed with buy-to-let mortgages. However, in order to enjoy a stress-free Christmas, landlords may wish to act now before it is too late and the inclement weather hits their properties hard.

Halifax, a high street bank and major insurance provider, knows a few tricks to help keep the big freeze out of doors and not inside people’s properties and bank accounts. Advice supplied by the company includes checking the roof for broken tiling or pointing problems – issues that should lead one to call a professional contractor immediately. In addition, low branches could present a damaging problem in the event of a storm, while gutters and drainpipes should be cleaned regularly to prevent overflows.

However, some of the issues associated with winter weather are out of the average buy-to-let investors’ hands, with responsibility resting squarely on the shoulders of their tenants. The bank advised that the central heating should be kept at a steady temperature of ten degrees to prevent pipes from freezing – so perhaps a gentle reminder to those paying the rent could be well worth it in the long run.

Vicky Emmott from Halifax Home Insurance commented: “Winter is the time when we retreat to the warmth and safety of our homes, but before doing so there are some essential checks that need to be carried out.

“With home emergencies, prevention is certainly better than the cure, and many claims could be avoided if householders spent a small amount of time preparing for the coming bad weather.”

The company has revealed that it granted some £16 million in weather-related home insurance claims over 18,000 separate incidents last year. In order to avoid becoming just another statistic, buy-to-let investors may wish to sit up and take some positive action – particularly as many will no doubt be reeling from the impact of the major flooding experienced across the UK over the summer.

Indeed, so imminent is the threat of the weather that fellow home insurance provider NFU Mutual has issued a similar warning to property owners, suggesting that the winter’s weather could be just as unpredictable as that seen earlier this year.