Is it important that my properties are kept warm?

The warmer weather is coming, but it’s still important to keep your properties warm – for the health of the property, as well as your tenants!

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With the cost of living rising, many people are struggling to pay their bills. This is bad news for your tenants, who deserve to be warm at home, but an unheated property can be bad news for you, the landlord, too.

How can I support my tenant to ensure they are warm?

Unless you’re renting with bills included, the bills are your tenant’s responsibility and it’s up to them to keep themselves warm. However, no one wants to see another person cold in their own home, so you can advise them on ways to stay warm in the winter months.

  • Speak to their energy supplier. If they are struggling with the heating bills, they can call their supplier to negotiate a payment plan. If they don’t face the issue, they could be cut off, so they should contact the supplier before things spiral out of control, as they have to help.
  • Covid impact. Due to the ongoing pandemic, energy companies were not disconnecting people if they missed a payment. However, as restrictions ease, it’s worth checking that this is still the case and negotiating a deal with the supplier if not.
  • Check benefits. If your tenant receives benefits, this can help them pay their heating bills through the Fuel Direct Scheme. So it’s worth speaking to their benefits advisor to find out if they can use the scheme.
  • Charitable support. If your tenant is really struggling and cannot afford the repayment plan offered by the supplier and isn’t eligible for the Fuel Direct Scheme, there are charities who are able to help.

How does the cold affect my property?

While it can sound uncharitable, it is important that your property is kept warm as cold can cause a host of issues in a property, which can cost a lot to rectify.

  • Damp. Enough to strike fear into any landlord’s heart, damp always gets worse in the winter, thanks to low temperatures and more rain. Water can build up on windows and drip down walls and rain can penetrate if a home isn’t well heated. The issues damp creates can start small, with peeling wallpaper, blistering paint and unsightly patches, but overtime, can rot internal timbers and masonry. 
  • Mould. Mould is usually caused by excess moisture and humidity and, like damp, is more common in the winter. Mould can eat away at carpets, flooring, wallpaper and become unsightly. But it can also have an impact on your tenant’s health, especially if they already suffer from asthma.
  • Burst pipes. If pipes are allowed to freeze, they can burst. This would be considered an emergency and you’d have to act quickly to fix them and ensure your tenant was suitably accommodated in the mean time. Make sure that you have Home Emergency Insurance, which would cover this and take care of your tenant, in the event of your pipes bursting

How can I make sure my property is kept warm and in good condition?

Making sure the property is as warm as possible is good for your property and your tenant. These days, tenants look for properties with a higher EPC rating because it means it’s more energy efficient and easier on their pockets. So make sure you have yours (it’s a legal requirement!)

  • Windows. Make sure your windows are efficient and not letting in drafts. Inefficient windows mean it’s harder to keep a property warm, so bills skyrocket and your tenant make choose to turn the heating right down rather than pay out.
  • Insulate. Is your insulation up-to-date? Much like with windows, good insulation can prevent heat leaking out of your property. Given the work the UK is doing to hit net zero, you may find some financial support to help with the cost.
  • Smart meters. Look into getting a smart meter installed in your property, this way your tenants can keep an eye on their spending in real time.
  • Solar energy. It’s a big investment, but solar panels can boost your green credentials and augment your tenant’s bills. It’s definitely a USP!

Keeping your property warm and dry is a two way street. You should make sure that your property isn’t leaking heat, so your tenant isn’t faced with sky high bills to stay warm at home. It’s also important to remember that your tenant deserves a warm home, so if you notice that your tenant is struggling in anyway, reach out to support and advise them as much as you can.

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