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Who’s responsible? Winter maintenance checklist for landlords and tenants

A drop in temperature, increased rainfall and potential for storms are clear signs that landlords and tenants should start preparing their rental property for winter – but who is responsible?

Without clear expectations, who is ultimately responsible for tasks can become a source of tension between landlords and tenants.

Landlords and tenants, supported by their property manager, should take a collaborative and proactive approach to ensuring properties remain safe, comfortable and well-maintained during the cold winter months.

Common winter-related tasks required in rental properties include:

Landlords

Heating

Ensure heating systems are in working order, with testing, servicing and repairs undertaken before the coldest weather hits. Inspect and clean fireplaces and chimneys, if applicable. Inspect and service gas and log fires to ensure tenant safety.

Gutters and roofing

Arrange to remove leaves and debris from gutters and downpipes to prevent blockages, overflowing water and internal leaks. Check the condition of roof sheeting, tiles or shingles to catch any damage or missing sections before the increased rainfall arrives.

Exterior inspection

Landlords, or their property manager, should conduct regular visual inspections on the exterior of a property to pick up on noticeable changes and issues requiring maintenance. It’s a good idea to take photos of the condition as a reference point in future and to support any building insurance claims if damage is identified and remedial works required.

Smoke detectors

It’s important, and in some states legally required, to have smoke detectors installed and for the landlord to arrange testing and battery replacement annually. Winter time may bring about increased risks, particularly for properties featuring a wood burner, as tenants turn to heat sources to keep warm.

Tenants

Check and maintain heating options

Test your heating options early in the season to ensure they’re in proper working order. Inform your landlord or property manager of any issues or maintenance requirements promptly. Early intervention can often reduce a costly or more inconvenient issue down the track and allow more time to resolve an issue before the coldest weather arrives.

Seal gaps

Check windows and doors for any gaps or cracks and seal draughts to prevent heat loss and reduce energy bills. Draught proofing is a quick and cost-effective way to improve efficiency and may include temporary seals or stoppers.

Keep an eye on the exterior, gutters and downpipes

As the tenant, you have the best regular access to notice any damaged or missing materials on the outside of your property – whether it’s roofing, siding or gutters. Report any signs of damage, leaks or potential issues to the landlord or property manager.

Take care with fire hazards

Space heaters, wheat bags and electric blankets can all pose a risk of fire or burns. Tenants choosing electrical heating products should ensure they are not left unattended, placed well away from furniture and used in accordance with instructions.

Across Australia, colder temperatures and increased rainfall can cause or exacerbate issues if left unchecked, so communication among landlords and tenants is key.

By clarifying these responsibilities, landlords and tenants can work together to ensure that winter maintenance tasks are completed effectively and the rental property remains safe and comfortable throughout the cooler months.

Landlord insurance

Specialised landlord insurance, such as Terri Scheer’s Landlord Preferred Policy, can provide a safety net should the property suffer damage, or if the tenant stops paying rent.

An insurance policy that covers these specific risks can assist landlords to safeguard their investments and ensure they continue to receive a steady flow of rental income.

Property managers should check their authority to distribute or refer before dealing in insurance.

Why choose Terri Scheer for landlord insurance?

Terri Scheer is Australia’s leading landlord insurance specialist, offering dedicated policies to suit the specific risks landlords face. Part of the Suncorp Group, we insure investment properties for more than 260,000 landlords across Australia.

That’s a major vote of confidence from Australia’s rental property owners.

Find out more about our policies here: terrischeer.com.au/landlord-insurance/

For further information, call 1800 804 016.


Disclaimer:

Insurance issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 AFSL 230859 trading as Terri Scheer. Read the Product Disclosure Statement before buying this insurance and consider whether it is right for you. Contact Terri Scheer on 1800 804 016 or visit our website at www.terrischeer.com.au for a copy. The Target Market Determination is also available.

The information is intended to be of a general nature only. Subject to any rights you may have under any law, we do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss or damage, including loss of business or profits or any other indirect loss, incurred as a result of reliance upon it – please make your own enquiries. This article has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situation or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.

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