Empty property freezing pipe warning

by Sarah Ashcroft

Landlords need to pay extra attention to the cold weather this February. Freezing pipes are a major concern for landlords with empty properties and the icy blast hitting the UK could throw up problems.

Carole Gallagher, head of household claims at Aviva, explains that it is all too easy to be caught out by the cold snap.

"Freezing and burst pipes can be a real problem - in some cases ruining entire floors of your home. The risk can be worse in traditional properties without modern heating systems or properly insulated pipes," she adds. "And when homes are left empty, burst or leaking pipes often aren't discovered for many days and so damage can get progressively worse."

Landlords can take a few simple precautions to avoid burst pipes meaning a call to their buy-to-let insurer. It might be worth leaving the heating on low, if the property is not going to be empty for too long.

If it does not look like any tenant will be moving in soon, the advice from the Association of Residential Letting Agents is to consider draining down the plumbing and heating system.

Plenty of lagging will also prove valuable when the weather gets cold. Pipes and tanks in the loft are particularly vulnerable to freezing, so need to be covered in lots of lagging.

Even if the property is occupied, as part of their landlord obligations, landlords need to make sure that they tell their tenants about how to prevent pipes freezing and bursting. The tenants should be told where the water shut-off valve, or stopcock, is so that the supply can be isolated in an emergency. Another piece of advice worth telling tenants is to open the loft hatch if gets very cold.

Taking these steps could also prevent disputes with tenants in the event that their property is damaged by burst pipes.

  • Landlord and Tenancy News from Lawpack: Get expert advice on your obligations as a landlord with Lawpack's Residential Lettings Guide

Published on: February 10, 2012

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