Posted on: 14 January 2019

December doesn’t mark the end of the cold

With Christmas out of the way, we start to think that the worst of the cold weather is behind us, as we can start looking forward to Spring, however Met Office statistics show that January and February can be just as cold. Last year the UK experienced a plummet in temperatures at the end of February and extreme temperature swings seem to be a more regular occurrence.

It is therefore important to make sure that your property or properties are well managed to cope with the colder months beyond December.

The risks and how to manage them

Slip risks

Snow and ice are the usual slip risks when it comes to the colder months, with London alone seeing a 50% rise in falls because of icy conditions in February 2018.  Falls can also be caused by wet leaves if they are left on pathways, where they start to rot and become a slip hazard.

Snow, ice and leaves can also block guttering, which can cause damage, but also present a hazard to anyone who may be working to clear them.

Eliminate these risks by identifying the areas more likely to build up snow or ice and make sure that the area is salted or gritted, either by yourself or your tenants. Make sure that you also identify any trees that shed their leaves heavily during the autumn months and let your tenants know that they may be at risk of slips.

If you have any leaf blowers or equipment to clear snow and ice, make sure that they are well maintained so that they can effectively clear hazards.

Extreme cold risks

Although the winter of 2017/18 may have been fairly mild, compared to the -27.2°C experienced by Braemar, Scotland in 1982, the temperature still managed to drop as far as -15C in some areas. At this temperature, it is not uncommon for pipes to freeze, and sometimes burst due to expanding water inside the pipe.

If you are a residential landlord, make sure that your tenants know to keep guttering clear to keep water flowing through to avoid the build-up of standing water which can freeze and cause damage to the piping. Tenants should also be informed of any outside taps which will need to be turned off to avoid freezing. Let your tenants know where to find the stopcock in the event of a leak or frozen pipes to stop the flow of water in an emergency, or to avoid pipes bursting.

Properly sealing windows and maintaining insulation is vital to making sure that indoor temperatures are appropriate for tenants. Energy company First Utility recommends a home temperature between 18°C and 21°C as the most comfortable temperature for humans, but anything below 18°C or above 24°C has been known to expose adults to health risks. Anything below 16°C can cause serious health risks for elderly residents, who are more prone to illnesses such as pneumonia or hypothermia.

To ensure a comfortable temperature for your tenants, make sure that your heating systems are regularly checked, and make sure that your tenants know that these checks are happening in advance. Tenants may be vulnerable to hypothermia or pneumonia in harsher conditions, especially elderly tenants.

Risks to indoor areas

People light candles in winter for a variety of different reasons. Candles will offer a small amount of heat to help keep the room warm, but they can also give off relaxing scents or be used for relaxation, however, they can pose a large fire risk. In 2016, it was reported that deaths caused by indoor candles had trebled since 2014, so make sure that your tenants know the rules about lighting candles on your property.

People will normally take down their Christmas decorations by the 6th January, but sometimes people will have theirs up for longer particularly if they’ve not had the time or have forgotten. Again, it is important to outline the rules about having Christmas decorations on your property, in particular the risk of fire from Christmas tree lights.

Property insurance with Premierline

As a landlord, you will have a large amount of responsibility for protecting your tenants. Premierline offers a simple solution to help you find the insurance policy to protect you and your property. We work with some of the UK’s leading insurers to find the best insurance cover to meet your needs. Compare quotes online, or speak to one our insurance advisers to arrange your property owner insurance today.

Source: Zywave Inc. Risk Insights: Property Management - Managing blocks of flats in Autumn/Winter

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