Autumn Maintenance Checklist (Outside)


Autumn Maintenance Checklist (Outside)


About this time of year, as the nights draw in and weather turns colder; is the time, if not already done, to look at your property and check that everything is in order. Getting organized now will save any problems in the depths of winter when tenants expect prompt responses to issues and contractors are either too busy or too expensive to provide realistic help.


When it comes to the outside there a variety of areas that need checking:


The shell of the property is the main line of defense for preventing the ingress of cold and moisture and for the loss of valuable heat (very important this winter). Inspect the walls, for poor pointing and paint peeling. Check and repair any rotting or damaged external wood especially where it could allow water ingress. Of particular note are doors, windows, windowsills and respective frames.


The facias and guttering as well as downpipes, making sure any dead leaves are removed. Check none of the air vents are blocked, and any air extractor vents are clear (especially cobwebs) so there is a good air flow.


If there are any external taps, make sure they are insulated to prevent freezing and subsequent fracturing.


In areas of extensive deciduous shrubs and trees, and especially if the property is older, then it is sensible to get the drains checked for any potential pipe cracks, tree roots or blockages. These jobs are a lot easier to sort out over the next two months rather than in midst of a freezing winters day and probably considerably cheaper as well.


It is important to make sure there are no trip hazards on the paths to the house, on the drive and around the garden. Many surfaces which are fine in dry weather can become dangerously slippery if continuously damp and will need to be checked. If found to be slippery, the tenant will need to be warned, in writing, to be careful or avoid; and preferably the area be power washed to prevent the risks of slipping and falling over.  Special attention is needed for wooden decking which can become an “ice ring” if algae gets a grip; if there are handrails, make sure they are secure.


In many properties which have motion sensor lights, it is advisable to check that they are working properly and to ask the tenant to let you know if they fail – if provided they need to work!


The boundaries with hedges may need cutting back and fences where they are loose, need to be secured and treated; likewise for garden sheds and greenhouses.


Not only is it common sense to be aware of your landlord responsibilities, but it is also a legal requirement under the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act, which requires Landlords to be a more proactive to maintenance issues in their property. This responsibility will only become more intense if the Decent Home Standard is incorporated into the Renters Reform Bill when it eventually arrives.

Taking this on board, it is important to look and assess the vulnerability of your tenants – young, old and ailing need more care and attention! In many cases the means of access to the property, garage, garden and drying areas need to be monitored, because there is no alternative safe route to get to or use them. Incorporate these checks in the regular visits, and make sure they are daylight inspections so as to be able to see and assess that everything is safe. At the time of the visit it is worth having a conversation with your tenant to find out if there are any other maintenance issues that are not readily visible, as often tenants are loath to mention them!