Landlord and property

How to protect your property from snow and ice

Extreme weather conditions could cause serious damage to your home and any properties that you let out. This can lead to unexpected costs and hassle for you and your tenants.

Storm damage insurance claims can be declined if proper maintenance isn’t carried out.

Here’s some useful information to help you and your tenants during the snowy conditions. Share this information with your tenants to help minimise any claims or damage.

Pre-snow and frost checks

Snow and ice can cause many problems for landlords. You can help to minimise any damage before it happens with these tips:

  • Snow and ice can be very damaging to roofs. Heavy snowfall can put too much weight on the roof, resulting in ice dams when temperatures rise and snow starts to melt, leading to damage.

  • You should aim to get the roof inspected twice a year from ground level. Debris on the ground from broken slates, tiles or shingles can indicate possible problems. Leaning chimneys or pots may also need attention.

  • If you’re in doubt, get a reputable builder to come out and check the property. Specialist roofs will require specialist repair.

  • Pipes are often affected by cold weather and should be protected. Where possible, insulate external pipes and unheated internal areas (such as the loft) so they don’t freeze during extreme cold weather. Broken pipes can cause major damage to a property if left untreated.
Header tanks
  • If you’ve got a water tank in the loft, make sure the loft is insulated otherwise the tank can get very cold. If water freezes it can expand and cause the tank to split. When the ice thaws, the water will leak.

  • Lag loft tanks to prevent freezing. It's good practice to ask tenants to check the water tank regularly to make sure it’s in good condition and not showing signs of age which can include cracking or splitting.

Advice during snow

During a snowfall, your property manager or your tenants should make every effort to remove snow build up on and around the property. To remove snow from the roof, use a rake or broom to brush it off.

  • After severe snowfall, roofs aren’t safe to go on without the correct safety equipment. If in doubt, a professional can be hired to remove the snow for you.
  • If your pipes freeze, warm them with a hairdryer. Start at the frozen tap end or the valve and work along until the water starts to flow.

  • Alternatively, put a hot water bottle over the pipe or soak flannels or towels in hot water and wrap them around the pipe. Never use a blowtorch.

Advice after snow

Damage relating to snow and ice will generally become apparent within a week. For example, if a roof is damaged it’s likely that liquid damage will be noticeable in the property within 7 days. Any longer and it is likely to be unrelated. Your tenants must make you aware as soon as it’s spotted.

If you need to make a claim, speed is important – insurers need to be notified at the earliest opportunity so that they can ensure the property is made watertight. A continuing water leak following frost damage can dramatically increase the cost of the claim.

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