25 ways to give your life as a landlord less stress and more sparkle this Christmas

Landlord Advice

27 November 2018

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas time, the season of mistletoe and wine, and we can bet that you’re dreaming of spending some quality R&R with your family and friends.

But as a landlord during the festive season you’ve got more on your plate than just wrapping presents and cooking up a yuletide feast that would make even Nigella Lawson jealous; you’ve got a property to winter-proof and a duty of care to your tenants.

To help you keep on top of your Christmas to-do list, AXA’s elves have packed this landlord advent calendar with some stress-busting tips, so you can spend more time fuelling up your festive spirit and having yourself a merry little Christmas.

  1. It’s a marshmallow world in the winter, so spend some time winter-proofing your property before the onset of a cold snap. From clearing out your garden to how to react in an emergency, read AXA’s guide to freeze-proofing your property to help keep your cool and your rental property toasty when it matters.
  2. Organisation is everything when it comes to having a holly, jolly Christmas. This year, to save you from stress-induced tears, try to arrange a pre-Christmas inspection with your tenants far in advance to make sure everything is in order or can be rectified before Santa arrives.
  3. The only intruder you want in your property this Christmas is Old Saint Nick, so spend some time checking that your rental property is safe as houses by ensuring that all windows and doors are secure and locks are working as they should.
  4. Hopefully the bells will be the only things ringing out this Christmas Day, but an alarm can come in handy if an unwelcome visitor tries to gain access your rental property. Check that alarms are working properly and that tenants are clued up on how to set it when they’re heading out.
  5. You want Rudolph and Santa’s other nine reindeer to have as smooth a landing as possible when they come to deliver presents on their sleigh, so get your property’s roof checked for any slipped, cracked or loose tiles or leaning chimneys and address any issues as soon as possible.
  6. With Jack Frost nipping the air, you’ll want your rental property to be warm this winter. Prepare your heating systems before freezing temperatures set in by bleeding radiators where necessary, insulating pipes and asking tenants to keep the heating on low if they’re going to be out for long periods of time.
  7. Santa Claus is coming to town, so it could pay to get odd jobs out of the way before he arrives. Whether it’s a fresh lick of paint or DIY you’ve been putting off, December is a great time to give your rental property some TLC so you can clear your to-do list and kick off your new year afresh.
  8. You’ll be used to hearing Jona Lewie’s ‘Stop the Cavalry’ in the Christmas run up but knowing the location of your stop cock and other mains supplies is vital to preventing additional damage to your home during an emergency.
  9. It’s crucial that all smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are in tip top condition. Not only are they handy for alerting your tenants that their signature Christmas spuds are over-roasting, they can help prevent their Christmas – and your property – from going up in smoke if something goes alight.
  10. Baby, it’s cold outside, so it’s important that everything up on the house top is shipshape. To avoid damage to your roof, make sure gutters are cleared of debris and leaves to prevent blockages and ice dams from forming.
  11. You want your tenants to have themselves a cosy little Christmas, so ensure that all of your rental property’s boilers, cookers, gas fires and flues have been deemed fit for use by Gas Safe-registered installers.
  12. Are your tenants driving home for Christmas? Before they leave, ask them to keep the heating on low level to prevent pipes from freezing – or worse, bursting – draw the curtains and have a light on a timer to give the impression to opportunistic thieves that someone is in.
  13. With pricey presents nestled under the tree, Christmas is a peak time for burglaries and theft. That’s why it could be a wise move to ensure that all additional security measures, such as dead bolts and motion-activated lighting, are in working order to help guarantee your tenants a silent night’s sleep.
  14. We know all your tenants want for Christmas is to spend time with their loved ones – oh, and the must-have gift they’ve had their eyes on all year – but it’s important that you remind tenants to have a contents insurance policy in place as your landlord insurance policy does not cover their possessions lost to burglary.
  15. If you’re planning on going away for the festivities, instead of writing up your naughty and nice lists, leave an emergency guide with your tenants detailing important contacts and how to reach you over the Christmas period in case of a boiler breakdown, burst pipes or any other maintenance issues.
  16. When it comes to decorating your property, don’t be a scrooge, be flexible by letting your tenants know that you’re happy for them to deck the halls. If you’d rather they avoided using pins and blue tack when creating their Christmas grotto, speak to tenants beforehand to prevent any Grinch-like disagreements down the line.
  17. You want your tenants’ festive days to be merry and bright but it’s a good idea to remind them that fairy lights should be switched off and unplugged when they’re going to bed or heading – especially as they are the most common causes of fire in the festive season.
  18. Chestnuts should be the only things that are roasting over an open fire this festive season. If your rental property has an open fire, politely ask tenants not to hang stockings or other decorations over Santa’s entry point of choice to prevent anything catching aflame.
  19. If your tenants are planning on rocking around the Christmas tree this party season, gently remind them to take care of furnishings and fittings – especially if there’s going to be enjoying plenty of festive tipples and mince pies. Ask them to inform neighbours about any upcoming jingle bells rocks to not only help avoid noise complaints, but to see if they want to join in the fun.
  20. If you know your tenants are heading home for the holidays, not a creature will be stirring in your property – not even a mouse. Why not consider using this downtime to arrange for some maintenance work to be carried out or as a chance to flex your own DIY muscles? These empty spells could be more convenient for all.
  21. The weather outside may be frightful so we understand that keeping your rental property warm and cosy in the winter months is delightful. However, condensation can be a big problem for properties when the mercury drops, so make sure extractor fans are working as they should and encourage tenants to ventilate high-humidity areas, like kitchens and bathrooms, to prevent damp patches from appearing.
  22. Santa has been busy making a list and checking it twice, so it could benefit you to double-check your landlord admin before Christmas comes. Have a look to see if your landlord insurance covers your rental property against any Christmas conundrums, and if not, it might be a good idea to update your cover to suit your needs. Remember to have another look over your self-assessment tax return forms too to prevent any mistakes from resulting in an expensive start to the New Year.
  23. According to Buddy the Elf, the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loudly for all to hear. But if you think showing off your dulcet tones to your tenants is more of a punishment than a present, why not consider buying them a small gift, such as a calendar, chocolates or a bottle of wine instead? Tis the season of good will after all and a small token could have a big impact on keeping your relationship with your tenants sweet.
  24. Christmas can be a real winter wonderland, but December and January can be particularly hard on you – and your tenants’ – wallets when you’re juggling the demands of the festive season, so try issuing a polite reminder of rent due date in advance so tenants are aware. If this date proves problematic for tenants, be empathetic and ask them to contact you to discuss options.
  25. We get it, the festive buzz can be hectic and it can be a challenge to catch your breath and relax when you’re spinning so many plates. But remember to carve out some downtime with your loved ones as you step into Christmas – you’ve worked hard all year, so it’s good to focus on you for a bit and top up your yuletide spirit.

So here it is, merry Christmas, everybody’s having fun, by looking to the future you can better keep on top of your life as a landlord and prevent problems before they’ve even begun. So, whether you’re dreaming of a white Christmas or just simply forward to having your loved ones gathered around the table for a festive feast, we at AXA hope you have yourselves a merry little Christmas, each and every one.

Get your landlord needs all wrapped up with AXA Landlord Insurance

Don’t let the unexpected put your festive plans on ho-ho-hold, tailor the cover you need with AXA Landlord Insurance. So even if the worst happens, you can rest easy knowing you’re protected and focus on making your Christmas a cracker.