Tenant Focus – Christmas is coming; how to avoid maintenance problems over winter and the festive period.

It might be a little early to be hanging up the Christmas decorations and I really don’t want to sound like Scrooge, however, I am writing this in a very chilly office with the temperature having dipped to a balmy six degrees (feeling like minus one with the wind chill!). And, when the temperature drops like this, our Property Management team find themselves going into overdrive with calls from tenants about boilers not working, faulty night storage heaters, not to mention the fact it’s dark and the lights have blown in their kitchen. Add into that mix the fact Christmas is coming and our contracted engineers will be on a wind-down, only covering emergencies, and it could be a recipe for disaster for this year’s turkey dinner. I guess, what I’m trying to say is that, if you are a tenant and you’ve been putting off reporting the fact the oven doesn’t heat up properly or you’re only getting hot water intermittently from your immersion heater, now is the time to do something about it, so that you stay warm this winter and don’t spoil your family festivities. Here’s my tips on what to pay particular attention to:

  1. Have your emergency contact details to hand.

In my experience, these things never happen at nine o’clock on a Monday morning, when your agent is open, they tend to happen on a Saturday evening, when your agent’s office is closed and not open again until Monday. If you are renting a managed property, you should have been given the Property Management department’s contact details. They will have also either given you a set of emergency contact numbers, or if you ring their number out of hours, you should have been given a set of numbers to contact in an emergency, such as their gas plumber and electrician’s numbers. When contacting any contractor in an emergency, be sure to explain you are a tenant of the agent’s and they will ensure you are prioritised. If your landlord is managing your property, make sure you know their contact details and if they have any breakdown cover in place for gas or electrics, ensure you have these too, so you can contact the relevant people in an emergency.

  1. Gas Central Heating & Hot Water

If you have gas central heating, you probably know when it comes on and off, you’ve probably set it yourself via the thermostat timer. However, sometimes radiators don’t heat up so it’s worth going around and checking if any need bleeding. If, after bleeding, a radiator doesn’t heat up, it’s worth reporting to your agent or landlord. Equally, if heating or hot water is intermittent, it could be a sticking valve on the boiler and may also require investigation. It could be a sign of imminent failure and, although it may not seem urgent, if it fails over the bank holiday Christmas period, it may take a lot longer to resolve.

  1. Know where your consumer unit/ fuse box is located

You don’t need to be a qualified electrician, but at least knowing where your consumer unit is located might help in the event of tripping electrics. Sometimes, electricians can resolve electrical issues over the phone as it could be a faulty appliance, such as a kettle, causing the electrics to trip. Equally, if you have a burst pipe and water flowing through the house, knowing where the consumer unit is to turn off the electrics to the property can make your home instantly safe before contractors can get to you, to stop the leak and check the electrics.

  1. Immersion and Night Storage Heating

Immersion heaters are basically electric boilers which heat up water and, in most cases, provide hot water to the taps in your kitchen, bathroom, etc. Occasionally, they heat up radiators too but as gas is cheaper than electric, most radiators are found on gas central heating. If your hot water has been intermittent or doesn’t heat up very quickly, it could be a sign of a failing immersion element, which is a piece of metal which heats the water inside the immersion heater, a bit like a really big kettle. If you think your immersion heater might be faulty, it would be worth reporting this now, in case it requires attention before you have no hot water. Both electricians and plumbers can attend to immersion heaters.

Night storage heating works by the heater staying on overnight and drawing heat into bricks, within the heater, which give off heat all through the day, the following day (the clue is in the name). They have a separate electricity supply, Economy 7, which is a cheaper ‘off peak’ rate at night, making them economical to run. They often have two or three elements in them which can fail and sometimes the fuse can fail too. So, if you’re finding your night storage heater isn’t heating up as much as it used to or isn’t heating up at all; act now. We are a few weeks away from Christmas and the really cold weather of January and February. These types of heaters are quite easily repaired but sometimes parts can be difficult to get hold of so, by acting now, you can get the heater resolved, before it becomes a real issue.

  1. Appliances – especially your oven!

Like the night storage heating, I’ve just discussed, sometimes parts for repairs are difficult to source. Have a check of any of the appliances your landlord provides. It could be the oven, hob, washing machine or dishwasher. If you’re confident you’ve maintained them correctly but there’s still an issue (has the fan stopped working in the oven?), then, again, act now. Our electrician very kindly managed to get a new oven installed for one of our tenants on Christmas Eve last year, but it was cutting it fine; act now and you’re likely to be sorted for Christmas.

If you are a tenant currently looking to rent in Gloucester, or a landlord looking for an agent to manage your property, please don’t hesitate to contact us 01452 310999, email us at gloucester@surepropertygroup.com or call into our offices in Worcester Street, Gloucester, to discuss your needs further.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes,

Tom Smith

Director

Sure Sales & Lettings