The landlords guide to keeping your property safe in the sun

When the summer months come around, it is far too easy to assume that properties are at less risk from damage due to the weather. Although the stresses that can come from heavy storms or icy conditions are alleviated, there are still a host of factors that need to be considered to ensure your let property does not suffer because of extreme heat or sunlight.

Here are some tips that all landlords should consider during periods of prolonged sunshine.

Avoid paintwork becoming faded

The aesthetics of a property will often be less of a priority than structural stability and the functionality of fixtures and fittings, but maintaining a building's paintwork could be paramount in a landlord's quest to be successful in the buy-to-let market.

  • Lengthy amounts of time being directly exposed to sunlight can cause even recent coats of paint to fade - a factor that can make a property much less marketable.
  • With British residents now taking longer to get on the property ladder, many are starting a family or moving on to a middle income before they buy their first home.
  • This means that some prospective tenants expect a higher standard of property - and paintwork could well prove a deal breaker in these cases.
  • If a tenancy ends over the coming months, it is also important to ensure that paintwork is kept up to scratch.
  • If it does not look in good shape while vacant, the success of viewings could be significantly hindered.
  • Aesthetics are a major contributor to a prospective tenant's perception of a home's suitability - so there really are no excuses for neglect. If you notice any wear and tear, immediately look for a replacement.

Cracks and subsidence

We all know how volatile British summertime can be, meaning landlords must be prepared for almost any weather type, regardless of the time of year. Periods of blazing sunshine can often appear a matter of hours after heavy rainfall or a storm. When this happens, the exterior of your property could fall foul of cracks and erosion.

How does subsidence form?

When the surface of a building absorbs rainwater, it expands very slightly. However, when this is quickly followed by an increase in temperature, cracks can form.

The gradual process of shifts in the earth below a property can also contribute to subsidence, whereby the structure slowly sinks into the ground, sometimes disproportionately to one side of the foundation.

If either of these issues is neglected, the liveability and - in more serious cases - safety of a premises can be compromised. However, the slow onset of these issues means that they can easily go unnoticed.

Your duties as a landlord

  • It is the duty of the landlord to pay regular visits to the property during the summer months, giving particular attention if the weather has been especially changeable.
  • Fill in any cracks and assess how level the foundations of a property are on a frequent basis.
  • Not all landlords will feel confident judging these issues on their own, so sometimes it might be best to employ a professional to carry out checks.
  • The extra expense in the short term could well pale in significance to the amount that will have to be shelled out further down the line if there is any lasting structural damage.

Take extra fire safety precautions

When the sun comes out, tenants inevitably want to get outside and perhaps the most popular way of enjoying the warmer climate is to host a barbecue. On the face of it, this is a pretty harmless pursuit, but the risk of fire at a property could well become a greater concern.

Assess risks of barbecues

If a tenant is particularly spontaneous, it might be impossible to carry out an instant risk assessment before the coals are hot, but it is best practice to be constantly vigilant during summer and ensure fire extinguishers and blankets are in working order.

Consider barbecues' proximity to the property

The worst case scenario during a barbecue is for a fire to spread to the exterior of either the property of the host or a neighbouring home. With this in mind, barbecues must be located a safe proximity from the door to the house and any flammable objects found in a yard or garden.

Interacting with tenants

In situations where a landlord does feel that there are risks to hosting barbecues at a certain property, the most appropriate approach might be to give the tenant a few guidelines on how to avoid any mishaps.

Residents should be advised to ensure that their barbecue is placed on a flat surface. This eliminates the risk of flames blowing in unpredictable directions should there be a gust of sudden wind or, in more serious cases, if there is a gas explosion.

Children and pets

It goes without saying that extra care also needs to be taken whenever pets or children are involved. Although the heightened risk in this case is ultimately the responsibility of the tenant, the landlord must be seen to have the proper fire precautions in place.

Act early

There is a wealth of information out there about the legal requirements landlords must follow in relation to any of the above issues.

As a result, it is paramount that property owners make a conscious effort to stay up to date with any alterations that need to be made - a factor that may well mean action needs taking before the sun arrives. 

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