With Christmas fast approaching this should be a time to start winding down and looking forward to the holidays. Unless of course, you are a landlord. Students and young professionals often return to their families at Christmas leaving an empty property. Have they been told to turn the heating down but not off? Have they secured the property? These little questions can cause that 3.00am moment of worry, but a few precautions mean landlords can relax and enjoy Christmas.
By now winter maintenance checks have been done to ensure a property is ready for the coldest months of the year, meters have been read and administration put in order but a factor we always check on is insurance. Some landlords do not realise a domestic insurance policy is not valid for buy-to-let. Small accidents; a broken vase or chipped worktop can be taken care of by the tenants deposit. But if a tenant leaves a house unheated for a week and the tank in the loft bursts it is unlikely the landlord can recoup the tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage from the tenant, to say nothing of lost rental income.
Our maintenance team are on call over the holiday season since it is a racing certainty somebody’s boiler or cooker will go on the blink on Christmas morning. Last year they took a frantic call from a tenant convinced she had left her heated curlers switched on in the bedroom. She had and the intervention of our team meant she did not return to a smoking ruin. Our on-call staffs tend to eat Christmas dinner with their uniform hanging on the kitchen door.
In addition to checking the security and safety of temporarily empty properties on request, dust bins tend to be a focus for our maintenance teams. Nothing will make a burglars eyes light up like a pile of boxes from high-end electronics stacked by the bins – because they know those items are in the house.
Everybody wants to enjoy a relaxed, care free Christmas; tenants, landlords and we lettings agencies. A little forward planning at this time of year means we can all do just that. Apart from our maintenance teams rushing about fixing things, preventing fire, flood and burglaries. They can relax in January.