With the bizarre and extreme weather which has afflicted the UK in recent years, it can be hard to know when spring has really sprung. But if temperatures have started to rise and there is no further threat of snow, it is a timely moment for landlords to carry out a thorough inspection of their properties.
A spring maintenance check will establish whether the property offers a safe and comfortable home for tenants, and that any issues are addressed before they cause further damage.
Poor maintenance will make life miserable and even dangerous for tenants but will also impact the value of the property, its future rentability and the rent which can be achieved. The earlier problems are addressed, the easier the repairs are likely to be, and the knock-on effects will be minimised. A good maintenance routine will save landlords money in the long run.
What equipment do you need to inspect your property?
You don’t need any specialist equipment to perform a thorough check of your property. Gloves, a ladder, a bucket and a hose could come in handy. A camera may also prove useful as you will be able to forward images of any damage to the tradesmen who will be undertaking the repairs.
Here’s your spring maintenance checklist:
Walk round the property slowly, inspecting the fabric of the building from top to bottom. Always make a note of any potential issues and their precise location. It might prove difficult to recall everything you have seen if you don’t create a list.
Check your roof for slipped tiles, missing tiles, broken flashing, mould and any other signs of deterioration. Most areas of a roof should be visible from the ground, but you may need to use a ladder to inspect flat roofs and these are the most vulnerable to deterioration. Pooling water, sagging and cracking are all signs that your flat roof needs attention.
Inspect all guttering and downpipes for blockages and breakage. Clear out any debris which has accumulated. You will be able to scoop out clumps of leaves and twigs, but silt and smaller items might need to be flushed out with a hose. You should also flush through the downpipes which appear to be blocked. If you fail to dislodge the blockage, use a plumber’s snake to break it up. Check for slow moving or standing water. If water isn’t flowing efficiently, you need to increase the slope of the gutter towards the downpipe.
Look for abnormally large spaces between the gutter and wall or fascia. These are usually the result of hangers working themselves loose over time. Finally, check the seams between the sections of guttering for leaks.
If there are any outdoor taps, take a quick look at them and turn them on. If the pipes have frozen over the winter, the taps may be leaking, and this will eventually damage the fabric of the building.
Footpaths and Drives
Cracks may start to appear in footpaths and drives if they have been subjected to freezing temperatures and repeated bouts of heavy rain. Any cracks must be addressed to prevent water seeping through and causing erosion. Look out for trip hazards which have developed and prioritise work on these.
Check fences, decking and facias for signs of rot. Fence posts are particularly prone to rotting and any degradation will make fences unstable and even dangerous. Minor areas of rot are not an emergency but will continue to deteriorate over time.
Spring is the best time to prune trees and shrubs which could block windows, overhang roofs or create obstructions on walkways. Some species of climbing plants will damage brickwork and mortar and so are best removed from the walls.
A quick walk around the inside of your property in Spring is always a good idea as your tenants may not bother to inform you of any issues which have appeared during the winter. If you don’t currently have tenants, an inspection will ensure that you will be able to present the property in tip-top condition and so attract the best tenants.
Walls and Ceilings
Damage to roofs will cause problems inside houses and apartments. Check for soggy drywall and mould. If there has been no damage to the roof and guttering and you discover discolouration or mould, you could have a damp problem, and this must be investigated and addressed immediately.
Flooring and Carpets
Your tenants will have been trudging through the house with wet footwear throughout the winter and could even have brought salt-laden show into the property which will damage hardwood flooring. Inspect all flooring for signs of degradation.
Heating, Hot Water and Electrics
Turn on the heating and hot water to check that everything is in good working order. Heating engineers tend to be less busy in spring and summer and so this is the best time to get your system serviced and to perform any upgrades or repairs. You should also switch on all electrical appliances to ensure that they are working and that there are no issues with fuses and power sockets.
If you’re looking for a reliable plumbing and heating company, get in touch with WPJ Heating.
Test your burglar alarm and fire alarm whilst at the property if you have these systems installed. Ensure that any fire extinguishers are still present and have not been used.
Check that there is no issue with pests including cockroaches and rodents. Spring is the season when any creatures hiding away in the fabric of the building are likely to breed and start moving around the property. Look in cupboards and under kitchen units for droppings and signs of activity.
Once you have checked over your property, you need to evolve a plan of action. Prioritise the required repairs and maintenance according to the impact the issue will have on your tenant and your property.
There may be urgent issues which you need to tackle immediately. You can deal with any other damage you have noted later, but don’t wait too long because it will only get worse. Advise your tenants of your plans and preferably consult with them about the most convenient times for work to be undertaken.
Is spring maintenance your responsibility?
While it is a landlord’s responsibility to immediately address any problems, which impact the habitability of the property, repairs to minor defects could be left until later. These will not affect the safety of the tenant or their health but could diminish their enjoyment of their home.
You could consider giving your tenants the option to deal with the minor repairs themselves. This will enable them to tackle the issues at a time which best suits them. However, you should avoid potential confusion and disputes by outlining in your tenancy agreements who is responsible for organising repairs and who is to foot the bill for these.
Your tenancy agreements should certainly cover the outside spaces. Some tenants might enjoy a little gardening and would consider this to be a major perk of the property. Others will hate gardening and so would much prefer that the work is done for them.
A spring maintenance check of your property will prevent potentially catastrophic damage from occurring but will also nip future issues in the bud before they become much more expensive to repair. You will reduce the chances of a call-out at an inconvenient time when something has gone wrong and your tenants will have greater peace of mind knowing that you are on the case.