Wet and windy conditions can wreak havoc on rental properties. Each winter, insurance claims for water damage spike as heavy rain, hail, flooding and howling winds batter homes, writes Sharon Fox-Slater.
It is also a time when house fires are more common as tenants 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 the rental coming off second-best as wintery conditions take hold. Keeping up with maintenance will also protect the landlord insurance on the property. As it is a condition of cover that the premises are adequately maintained, if you fail to keep up with repairs, all or part of a damage claim may be rejected.
Be alert to these five risks and what you can do to address them:
1. Weather woes
Storms can bring damage and are a leading culprit when it comes to landlord insurance claims, so make sure you:
2. Roofing issues
Water, wind and storms can challenge the best maintained roofs, but those lacking TLC can suffer major damage. Whether the roof is tin, tile or thatch, check its condition:
Answers in the affirmative mean it would be a good idea to get in the professionals to sort out any minor issues that, if left unchecked, could turn into big problems.
Inspections are also a good time to do some visual checks inside the property to see if there are any obvious issues stemming from above:
3. Heating systems
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:
4. Fire hazards
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 the tenants need to be vigilant, but these actions can also help reduce the risk of fire damage at the rental:
5. Liability matters
Accidents happen. And when it’s cold and wet, the risk of slips increases. Landlords can be held liable for any injury or damage a tenant or visitors to the property suffer as the result of 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, a landlord and/or their agent (if they fail to notify them of the issue) 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”, to limit the risk of being held liable for damage and accidents:
While a bit of proactive maintenance is wise, it’s not fool-proof. If the rental does suffer weather-related damage, it’s important that you understand the obligation under cover to mitigate further loss and make repairs in a timely manner.
A great landlord insurance provider should help minimise the emotional and financial stress associated with making an insurance claim and guide you through the process.
By Sharon Fox-Slater, managing director, EBM RentCover