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How to handle tenancies over the festive period

Posted on 2015-12-10

Christmas is nearly here. The decorations are out in force, festive songs are appearing on the radio, presents, turkeys and pigs in blankets are being purchased by the truckload and advent calendars are being opened up and down the country.

For landlords, though, Christmas can be a potentially problematic period. Keeping properties in tip-top condition can become more difficult with inclement or even extreme weather conditions, while a large proportion of tenants will often return home for the festive period (particularly applicable to students, who will head back to their home towns/cities for their Christmas holidays in December and January). People who have moved away from loved ones for work reasons may also choose to head back 'home' during this time.

This, of course, means your rental property could be empty for a few weeks, at a time when damp, pipes freezing and blocked gutters are all potential hazards. To prevent your property from falling into disrepair, there are a number of steps you can carry out.

First thing's first, communicate with your tenants to work out which days they will be away from the property. You will then know when to drop in to make sure everything is fine. There is less benefit in checking up on a property if the tenants are still living there.

Secondly, to prevent pipes freezing over, it can be wise to ensure that the heating comes on for at least an hour or so every day. Pipes freezing can cause significant damage and would require some hefty repairs, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

To prevent damp and mould from becoming major issues, windows should be opened regularly, especially in bathrooms and the kitchen. As a landlord, mould and damp are your responsibility, not your tenants', so you should do all you can to prevent them.

Pipes and brickwork should also be checked to ensure there are no cracks or leaks. As usual in these situations, prevention is better than cure. So dealing with any issues early, before they spiral out of control, will save you money and hassle in the long-run.

Furthermore, clearing any gutters which have become clogged with leaves during the Autumn is also wise – and doing this could prevent more serious issues further down the line.

Security is something else you will need to pay attention to if your property is empty over Christmas. Unfortunately, burglars are known to target homes at this time of year – particularly those that are empty. There are a number of steps you can take to make sure your property is as secure as possible while your tenants are away.

Being a landlord at Christmas isn’t all about maintenance and security, though. Many tenants will opt to stay put for the festive period, which means that worries over damp, pipes freezing and clogged gutters become much less urgent. It might also be quite nice to send a Christmas card or small gift to tenants. They are likely to appreciate such a gesture and may even reciprocate.

The landlord/tenant relationship is all important when it comes to letting property, so if both parties are kept happy then the prospect of a mutually beneficial, long-term tenancy is more likely.

A token gesture won’t cost much and it certainly won’t harm your chances of keeping tenants in place for the long-term, something all landlords are striving for. After all, a little Christmas cheer can go a long way.

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