The UK isn’t used to periods of extreme heat, but over the past few years the climate crisis has started to have noticeable impacts and we’ve experienced more hot days and heat waves than our homes are prepared for. For landlords, higher temperatures can lead to a range of issues that they may not have dealt with before, so here are some tips on how to keep a rental property in good repair when the mercury rises.
Just as insulation is important in the winter, ventilation is critical in the summer months. Landlords should ensure that windows are functioning properly so tenants can open and close them without any issues, and allow for plenty of air flow throughout the property. While it may seem counterproductive, it’s also important to check the seals on windows and gaps under doors and skirtings, as this will ensure that cool air stays in and hot air remains outside.
In addition to ventilation, installing efficient shading solutions will keep tenants cool and prevent the property from overheating. Blackout curtains are an effective measure in keeping sunlight out of a room, while automated blinds are convenient for tenants. Don’t neglect those smaller or out-of-sight windows such as skylights and roof lanterns that might be letting heat in.
In 2021, subsidence claims increased by a staggering 49%, and a large part of the issue were heatwaves. With heatwaves likely to become a more common occurrence, it’s important that landlords are aware of the signs to look out for. Property surveys should put your mind at rest as to any signs of subsidence in your rental, but many landlords don’t know what to look for if it appears later on.
Subsidence is the downward movement of the ground that the property rests on, and the lack of rain in the summer can cause clay soils to shrink, leading to instability in the foundations. Ripples in wallpaper, doors and windows that don’t seem to fit anymore and cracks which are wider at the top than the bottom can all be signs of subsidence. The key is to take action as quickly as possible, so that it doesn’t become a costly issue.
When we think of burst pipes, we naturally think of winter weather and frozen pipes. But while it’s true that water expands when it’s frozen, we tend to forget that metal expands when it’s hot. This can lead to warped, burst or damaged pipes which can be expensive to fix and inconvenient for tenants. Don’t run the risk of flooding caused by a burst pipe and instead be proactive in preparing pipework for hotter weather.
Make sure that exposed pipes are well maintained, by methods such as painting or insulating them, so they can withstand the heat during the summer and protect the material from warping. Painting the PVC piping which runs outside of the property will reduce heat expansion. Insulation, while more expensive, will protect them throughout all seasons, not just in the summer.
In periods of hot weather, bugs and pests such as ants, flies and mosquitos are more common. Ant infestations may not necessarily be hazardous, but they’re certainly not pleasant so landlords need to stay on top of signs of pest problems before they become too difficult to eliminate. Ants need to be eradicated as soon as they’re spotted, so if tenants spot signs, they need to inform their landlord immediately.
Flies and mosquitoes can cause health issues such as food poisoning and bites, and they should be kept out of the property as much as possible. Mosquito screens are effective to enable tenants to keep doors and windows open for air flow without the risk of bugs coming in, but tenants also need to ensure bins are kept in check and food waste disposed of quickly to avoid attracting pests.
Mirrors are a common feature of rentals, as they’re a great way to maximise light and make a room feel larger and more spacious. But they also magnify the heat and they can even lead to fires if that light is projected onto a flammable material in exceptionally hot weather.
In fact, during the summer, mirrors can result in plastic and wooden window frames being damaged and burned, and curtains catching fire from the sun’s rays being reflected onto the fabric. In very hot weather, it’s worth moving mirrors so they’re not directly opposite windows, or keeping curtains and blinds closed so that the sunlight won’t be reflected if it’s not practical to move them.
Just as plants and lawns thrive in the warm weather, so too do weeds and less desirable plants. Invasive species such as Japanese Knotweed (seen to the right) can become highly productive in the summer, and it’s a plant that landlords need to stay on top of as it can be very damaging to properties.
If left unchecked, Japanese Knotweed can damage the foundations of conservatories and outbuildings, and it can affect drainage systems since it’s able to penetrate concrete and is very hard to remove once it’s established. Landlords need to make sure they’re aware of what to look for if their rentals have gardens attached, and know how to combat the issue if it becomes prevalent.
The rising summer temperatures bring a host of new challenges for landlords and tenants alike, but as with any property maintenance task, prevention is always preferable to a cure. Landlords should ensure that tenants are kept aware of the importance of good ventilation, especially when cooking or showering, and that they check in with them regularly to ensure they have everything they need — especially if they’re senior citizens or have young children.
Written by Annie Button
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