It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Decorations being dusted down, trees springing up and lights being lit, there can be no question that the festive season is here and upon us once again. Things might be a little different this year, but much remains the same. Families might find it more difficult to get together in numbers, but crackers will still be pulled, mince pies munched, and Christmas jumpers donned as the 25th approaches.
One thing that hasn’t changed in 2020 is the need for tenants to take certain steps to protect their rental properties and ensure a trouble-free Christmas. Such things might seem obvious, but in the rush to get ready, with turkeys to order, cards to write and gifts to wrap, it’s understandable that, from time to time, some fundamental measures are often overlooked.
Consider these, our Christmas time tips for tenants, and you can have far more festive fun this December.
Make sure all is safe and secure
Perhaps you won’t be travelling quite as far afield this Christmas time, but whether celebrating at home or somewhere else altogether, security should be a key consideration. Those fortunate enough to be able to spend the festive season visiting friends and family members should ensure that all doors and windows are locked when leaving properties unoccupied, that intruder alarms are set and lighting timers programmed, and that all is in order and up to date in relation to contents insurance. Driving home for Christmas? Please don’t advertise the fact on social media. Staying put this festive season? These general guidelines still apply.
Turn it off or leave it on?
North-East winters can be cold, seriously so, so those leaving their properties unoccupied for more than a day or two should take measures in order to avoid issues such as frozen and burst pipes. It might be tempting to switch the heating off in order to make a saving on bills, but this is a step that we’d never recommend (and one that could leave you in breach of your tenancy agreement, and liable for costly repairs).
Your best bet is to leave the heating on low, ensuring that pipes don’t freeze, burst and flood your home. You can switch off the water supply at the main stop cock, however. This will reduce the risk of potential leaks and other such problems.
Problems and issues do arise as the winter weather begins to bite, so think about what might go wrong and ensure that contingencies and plans are put in place. Got a broken-down boiler? Lost your keys or locked yourself out? Make sure you have contact numbers for tried-and-trusted tradesmen and have a think about where you’d turn in case of an emergency.
If you’re not sure, or need some help or guidance, speak to your landlord or letting agent – and be sure to do it soon, before everything closes down for Christmas.
Think about fire risks and take precautions
There’s nothing quite like a crackling fire at Christmas time. If you’re fortunate enough to have an open fire or log burner in your rental property, you’ll no doubt be enjoying it once the temperature begins to drop this winter. But do be aware of the risks involved and always be sure to take great care.
If you’re hanging Christmas lights, check they’re fit for purpose and in full working order, and always unplug them when going out or heading to bed. Caution must always be taken if lighting candles, Christmas time or not, and tenancy agreements should be checked carefully to ensure that naked flames are permitted.
Check the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
This should be done on a regular basis, regardless of the time of year, festive season or not. But with Christmas almost here and upon us, and the risks increased (as detailed above), it pays to check that all safety alarms are operational, batteries fresh and ample protection in place.
Carbon monoxide alarms are often overlooked, but can provide life-saving protection against poisonous gases, whilst the importance of smoke alarms should never be underestimated. Think there’s something wrong or that your alarms are not working correctly? Speak to your landlord or agent as soon as possible.
Things might be a little different this year, but much remains the same, with the festive season here and upon us once again.
Sending best wishes to all this winter. We hope everyone has an enjoyable time.