As the cold weather finally hits and freezing conditions persevere, rental properties are particularly vulnerable to potentially expensive winter damage, such as burst pipes.
Landlords and letting agents are urged to protect their properties from burst pipes in order to avoid costly repairs.
Burst pipes are a common issue over the winter period, especially if a property is left unoccupied for any length of time in freezing conditions. Losses resulting from burst and leaking pipes – including damage to ceilings, walls and carpets – cost an average of £4,500 to repair, so you don’t want to be caught out!
A particular case from the Deposit Protection Service (DPS) shows just how much damage burst pipes can cause to a property and the resulting expenses. In this case, the tenant left the property for three weeks over the Christmas period to visit family, without turning the stopcock off.
During the cold weather, a pipe froze and then burst, flooding the property. The carpet and lino were extensively damaged, and the washing machine was completely destroyed. Excess water had to be drained from the property and it had to be dehumidified.
The Founder and CEO of Imfuna, the provider of digital inventory app Imfuna Let, Jax Kneppers, comments: “If landlords and agents take a few simple precautions, they can help protect their properties from burst pipes. For example, it’s a good move to provide the tenant with specific instructions about heating the property in cold periods. Landlords and agents should ensure the tenancy agreement contains a clause outlining the tenant’s obligations to shut off the heating system if the property is vacated in winter.
“It is important to instruct the tenant to inform the agent or landlord if they are vacating the property for more than 14 days in winter (this is also normally included in the tenancy agreement). A detailed check-in inventory with clear photos, signed by the tenant, will also protect landlords in the event of a deposit dispute over damage.”
So what should you do if you do experience a burst pipe?
Kneppers explains: “If a property experiences water damage, landlords and agents should provide a detailed account of any damage caused by burst pipes and keep invoices for any repairs done if the property is damaged. It is essential to take out landlord insurance as a precaution to help cover damages.”
Landlord insurance provider Just Landlords has a specialist policy for landlords of unoccupied properties. If you require this cover, click here: https://www.justlandlords.co.uk/unoccupiedinsurance
Although burst pipes are an unfortunate circumstance for both landlord and tenant, a detailed record of a property’s condition before and after the pipes burst will make the repair process as quick and pain-free as possible.