We constantly hear about how climate is changing and how we must prepare for our weather to become far more erratic and extreme.
What’s unclear is how this will affect us as landlords and how we can be ready for it. Surely there’s not much we can do? Aren’t we all at the mercy of the elements?
Well, not quite.
One of the more obvious symptoms of climate change is flooding, and we’ve seen plenty of that recently.
Houses built next to rivers can be particularly prone to this, and we very often can’t rely on our environmental agencies to be able to help. It’s not for want of trying; it’s simply that over the past decade we’ve seen more catastrophic flooding events than ever before, and they’re stretched to the limit.
Flood defences are expensive, and when you’re next to a river, they’ve complex and time-consuming to deploy.
But other, more subtle issues often go unnoticed. It’s not the cold; it’s not the heat, it’s the extreme
Our homes are designed to protect us when it’s cold and icy. A cold period, even when it goes down to minus 18 degrees (like it did for us a few years ago) won’t usually cause many problems.
Very often, the winter begins to move towards spring gradually and the temperatures begin to recover slowly.
However, for the past few years, we’ve seen temperature extremes in a matter of days. One day it’s 10 degrees, the next it drops to minus 5. A few days later, we’re back to double figures and driving rain, before returning to freezing temperatures overnight.
It’s these movements that cause many of the problems landlords see today, and the main problem is, they’re often invisible until it’s too late.
If you have a small crack in your masonry or the pointing of your house, it will likely go unnoticed for a long time. And that’s often absolutely fine.
But, after a heavy downpour water can make its way in. Again, not a problem if it gets chance to dry out, but if there’s then a freeze, it will expand and make the crack much worse.
This cycle of cold and warm temperatures can cause havoc, and in just a few weeks you can have huge repair bills.
How to keep the bills down
There’s no magic bullet to solve this problem; you simply have to check your houses regularly.
Inspections of the areas most likely to suffer from this kind of damage, such as around overflow pipes or near guttering are essential, especially after a cold snap.
If you find something, even if it’s just a hairline crack, it’s often worth getting it repaired straight away as it will probably be cheaper in the long run, and will keep huge bills at bay for a little longer.
You’ll also be helping to keep your tenants safe and their home protected from the extremes of the British weather.