The obvious empty property dangers such as potential break-ins, external damage, arson etc. are a constant worry but these could inflated during winter months. Additional worries such as burst pipes, damp problems, and mould are more likely to become prevalent when temperatures take a dip.
Landlords with unoccupied properties are arguably those most affected by these problems and the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks has recently urged landlords to consider these potential problems for the winter months ahead.
The association has particularly highlighted the issue of ventilation, it has explained that condensation is one of the main reasons for damp and that if a property is unoccupied during winter this increases. When windows are not opened for significant length of time the chance of mould increases.
The association also warns that the longer the period of un-occupancy, the higher the chance of cracked or leaking pipes, which is accentuated if the temperatures plunge and water freezes. Add to this the problem of clogged gutters due to fallen leaves and blocked drains and landlords could be left out of pocket.
Ensuring that rental voids are minimised will combat many of these issues. Occupied properties are warm, well –ventilated and, most importantly for landlords, deliver a return. Choosing a lettings agent with a strong database of potential tenants and wide exposure on the UK’s most popular property portals will help to eliminate the chance of any lengthy rental void.
If rental properties are un-occupied during winter the AIIC is urging landlords to make regular checks through the colder months.
Specialist buy to let lender, Paragon Mortgages report that average void periods are now less than 2.6weeks each year. However, this could still be enough time for disaster to strike and regular checks should ideally be carried out at least once each week when weather conditions are particularly cold.