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Damage to property during the winter months

Posted by on November 25, 2011


As we head towards Christmas and potentially severe weather in the New Year, AIIC (The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks) is urging agents and landlords to be vigilant about checking their properties to ensure that tenants are safe from fire and that they avoid water damage.

The risk of property damage increases in the winter as tenants heat their homes and celebrate Christmas by putting up decorations in and round their property. Pat Barber, Chair of the AIIC, said: “There are all kind of hazards around Christmas. Many tenants will be decorating their homes with Christmas trees, fairy lights and candles, but this greatly increases a tenant’s fire risk. In fact, tenants are seven times more likely to have a fire in their home, so it is essential that smoke alarms are fitted and are working properly.

“Tenants will also be hoping to save money on high energy bills by turning off their heating when they go away for a few days to visit family or friends. A recent example brings to life the potential costly damage that this presents to landlords. A tenant, living in a block of flats left the property for a few days during a cold spell, without leaving the heating on. The landlord was contacted by tenants in the other flats, complaining of water leaking into their flats. It was then discovered that the pipes had burst in the unheated flat and the water had brought down the ceiling. Not surprisingly, this proved to be very costly for the landlord.”

AIIC has put together some winter guidelines for agents and landlords to protect tenants and property:

  • Chimneys – Ensure they are swept once a year by a professional chimney sweep ideally before the tenant starts using the fire.
  • Smoke Alarms – Check that smoke alarms are fitted in all properties and that they are all working properly. Replace batteries as necessary.
  • Insulation – Ensure water pipes and the water tanks are lagged and insulated.
  • Heating – Advise tenants to keep their heating on if they are going away on a minimum of 15 degrees. It’s sensible to open the loft hatch also, this allows air to circulate and helps to prevent pipes freezing and bursting in the loft.
  • Boiler servicing – Ensure that gas and oil boilers are serviced every 12 months.
  • If the property is to be empty for an extended period it is sensible to have the heating/water system drained down by a qualified contractor.

The AIIC is committed to excellence and professionalism in the property inventory process and works hard to ensure that all landlords, tenants and letting agents understand the importance and benefits of professionally completed property inventories.

For further information, please visit www.theaiic.co.uk

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