Rental Resolution: Learn a New Skill

As a landlord, you have a certain level of responsibility to ensure that your property is kept to a proper level of repair, and that it is maintained to a good standard.

We are hearing more and more stories in the press about councils that are cracking down on rogue landlords who are failing to maintain their properties to an acceptable level, and as such are facing hefty fines – and even
prison sentences.

Whilst these are extreme cases, it definitely pays to know your way around a tool box to a certain extent – if nothing else it will undoubtably save you money in the long run if you can tackle small DY jobs yourself, rather
than having to rely on contractors to deal with every little detail for you.

There are certain household maintenance that are definitely best left to the professionals, there are plenty of jobs that you can tackle:


Painting and decorating

Freshening up

A freshly decorated property will always be more appealing to prospective tenants when they are viewing, so take the time to acquaint yourself with the basics of the decorating aisles at your nearest DIY superstore. Decorating a small property doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming, and a quick coat of neutral emulsion on the walls, and a lick of gloss on woodwork and doors will make your property look fresh,
new and clean.

Resealing a bathroom suite

Bathrooms in rental properties, especially those which are shared by a number of tenants, can really take a hammering. But replacing a full bathroom suit is expensive, and inconvenient.

One of the things you can do to help extend the life of your bathroom is make sure the sealant around your shower tray, bath and sink is working effectively, and keeping water from escaping into hairline cracks which
eventually cause leaks. Replacing the sealant regularly not only helps ensure that everything is kept watertight, but also spruces up the look of your bathroom, making everything fresh and clean again.

You’ll need: Sharp knife, Bathroom cleaning fluid, A tube of bathroom sealant, Sealant gun, Damp cloth

  1. Using the knife, carefully lift the end of the existing sealant
  2. Pull this away – it should come off in one long strip
  3. Clean the area and dry it thoroughly
  4. Insert the bathroom sealant into the gun
  5. Run a thin strip along the area you have just prepared, making sure that you fill all the gaps
  6. Run your finger along the sealant, smoothing the strip and forcing the putty into the edge between the wall and the bath/shower
  7. Using the damp cloth, wipe any excess off of the tiles and the shower/bath


Plumbing

Leaks

It’s always handy to have a reliable local plumber in your phonebook, but in the event of a leak chances are your tenant will call you first. It is vital that you know how to turn off the water supply to your property, and are able to show your tenant how to do this, and possibly be able to talk them through it on the phone as well.

Your property will have a stopcock (this should be illustrated on the property’s plans, or documented in the
purchasing deeds) which you must be able to located and turn.

Do make sure that this is turntable. Over time they can get a little sticky so it is advisable to include this in a regular maintenance check – possibly when you gain access to the property for an annual gas maintenance check?

If you do find that you have trouble turning your stopcock, a couple of squirts of lubrication, such as WD40 should get it going again! If you have elderly or immobile tenants, ensure that there is someone locally who is able to access the property quickly to help with this.


Dripping taps

Annoying, and potentially costly if you get a plumber out to sort this easy to fix issue:

You’ll need: Screwdriver, spanner, washer

  1. Turn off the water using the stopcock – you don’t want to be responsible for a flood in your property…
  2. Turn on the tap to drain any excess water from the system
  3. Put the plug in the sink – you don’t want to loose any screws down the plughole!
  4. Unscrew the handle of the tap from the body – there should be a visible screw that allows you to do this
  5. You should see a nut on the top of the tap –remove this with a spanner and remove the head of the tap
  6. There will be a small washer sitting underneath the headgear – damage to this tiny piece of kit is likely to be the cause of your drip!
  7. Replace the washer with a new one, these cost pennies from a DIY store
  8. Replace the headgear, tighten the nut and screw the handle back on
  9. Turn the water back on and test your tap
Clogged drains

One of the more unpleasant maintenance tasks, clogged drains are a regular issue that crops up for many landlords, especially those who let older properties. With sinks, baths and showers used multiple times a day, your tenants have to be scrupulous about drain care in order to avoid a blockage… and sadly not all are.

Although it’s not a pleasant task, knowing how to handle a blocked drain is vital – although be sure to educate your tenants on what they can do to help avoid the issue re-occurring too!


You’ll need: Rubber gloves, Baking soda and white vinegar OR bleach

  1. Put on your rubber gloves – if you want to wear protective glasses this is also a good idea. Try your best to avoid getting into contact with any of the substances you’re using, or anything that comes out of the blocked drain
  2. Carefully pour a small amount of baking soda down the plughole
  3. Pour a cup of white vinegar down the plug hole on top of the baking soda. Don’t be tempted to go overboard and empty whole packets and bottles down there – a little goes a long way!
  4. You should be able to hear the mixture crackling and bubbling – this is breaking down the blockage
  5. After a few minutes, rinse through thoroughly with warm water
OR
  1. Put on your rubber gloves – if you want to wear protective glasses this is also a good idea. Try your best to avoid getting into contact with any of the substances you’re using, or anything that comes out of the blocked drain
  2. Carefully pour a small amount of bleach down the plughole
  3. After a few minutes, rinse through thoroughly with warm water

Avoid using a plunger on a blocked bath or shower- it’s fine for other plumbing instances but isn’t advised when you don’t have a clear sight of the waste pipe.

Heating system

The phonecall that every landlord dreads… ‘the boiler isn’t working.’ An expensive issue to fix! However, it’s not always as simple as it sounds. Before you steel yourself for a few thousand pounds’ worth of cost, consider giving your heating system a bit of an overhaul yourself, just to make sure that the issue isn’t as simple as a few trapped air bubbles.

Bleeding radiator
If the radiators in your property need bleeding, they won't be getting up to temperature, and your tenants will be feeling very chilly- especially at this time of year! Follow these few simple steps and you can eliminate air-filled
rads from your list of boiler woes.


You’ll need: A few old towels, Radiator Key

  1. Turn the heating on – make sure that all the radiators are on and the heating is at full power.
  2. Check which parts of the radiators are warming up (you may need a towel for this) - Cover your hand in the towel and run it carefully over all the radiators. If a radiator is working at full capacity if should be equally hot all over, if there’s trapped air, it will be different temperatures in different areas.
  3. Switch off the central heating – you need to be able to handle the radiators, so they can’t be burning hot!
  4. Allow everything to cool down sufficiently
  5. When cool, lay an old towel under the valve at the side of the radiator
  6. Insert the key into the square groove in the centre of the valve
  7. Wrap another old towel under the valve, ready to catch any drips
  8. Turn the key anti-clockwise. If your radiator has air inside you should hear gas hissing at this point – don’t panic!
  9. Once the gas has all escaped, liquid will come out, so you must be ready to close the valve quickly (turning the key clockwise). Your old towels should help catch this excess.
  10. Once you have bled all of your radiators, make sure the pressure on your boiler is at the correct level.
  11. Every boiler is different, but the manual should give a guide as to the optimum pressure for your make.
  12. If the pressure has dropped below where it should be, you can ‘top up’ by using the tap on your boiler – this is called the filing loop. Turn the tap until the arrow on your boilers display points at the optimum number.
  13. Turn the heating on to run a test on your radiators – check for any cool spots and if they all heat evenly you have solved the problem!


Vermin management

Vermin are a real issue in some rental properties – through no fault of the tenant or landlord. As well as being upsetting and unpleasant for tenants, many pests can actually cause significant damage to property if
left unchecked, so it is well worth understanding what can be done about pesky unwanted guests, and how you can go about evicting them as soon as possible!

In some instances, your local council will be able to help (although there is often a charge for these services), or there is the option of private pest control services. However, many pests can be dealt with by you and your tenants, but you just have to identify what sort of critter you are dealing with and understand how best to tackle them:

You’ll need: A strong stomach, plenty of determination



Mice and rats

As well as nibbling their way through plaster, wood and electrical cabling, mice and rats spread disease through
their urine and droppings and pose a real threat to your tenants, especially if they have young children.


Mice can be kept in check with traps or posion that is easily available from all good DIY stores. You can manage this alongside your tenants (although do note that if there are pets or children in the property poison is not recommended).

Rats are a different kettle of fish though – if you believe you have rats in your property don’t try and handle this
yourself. Call in a professional pest control firm as soon as possible to get the problem e-rat-icated.
Cockroaches

Said to be the only thing that would survive a nuclear attack, unsurprisingly cockroaches are not easy to get rid of from a home. They like to scuttle around in warm, dark, humid parts of the home – such as the bathroom and kitchen and can cause food poisoning, dermatitis and can contribute to asthma.

You can attempt to get rid of them with an insecticide from a hardware store, however it is recommended that this could be a job for the professionals – you can find a local pest controller here


Bees and wasps

Whilst the lazy hum of a bumblebee on a summers afternoon in the garden is a lovely noise, the incessant buzz of a wasps nest in the eaves of your house is somewhat less relaxing…

If you think you have a nest in your property or your garden, your local council can help – they are able to remove the nest safely, although there is likely to ‘bee’ a small charge. If you have a

honeybee nest, the British Beekeepers Association will be able to send a representative who can remove the nest without harming the bees – vitally important given their endangered status!


Fleas

Don’t they make you itchy just thinking about them? If you think there might be fleas in your property it might be time for astern word with your tenants. The little blighters come from pets, so if your tenant’s four-legged friend has bought some extra guests to the party it’s possibly wise to suggest a course of flea treatment for them!

All animals, bedding, furniture, and carpets will have to be treated with flea sprays or powders. If your tenant is still in situ, you could suggest that they take responsibility for this, as well as the continued treatment of their pet.

If a pet has left the fleas as a parting gift following the end of a tenancy, make sure the property is completely clear of fleas before you allow any viewings to commence – the last thing you want is people leaving you property with a lasting, itchy memory!

If DIY still doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, the URBAN full management package might be just the thing for you. Let us handle all of the little dramas that life likes to throw at you, and never have to worry about leaking
taps, chilly radiators or bursting boilers again!
Contact the team on 0800 689 9955 orHere for more information

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