Last winter saw a record number of claims for faulty boilers according to new analysis by landlord insurer Direct Line for Business. Claims rose 5.2 per cent last year compared to the winter of 2015/16. The volume of claims for faulty boilers has been consistently increasing for the last five years.
With the Met Office predicting temperatures as low as -9 degrees celcius this February, experts are predicting 2018 could see the record broken once again with even more claims for broken boilers. Typically the winter months see a 66 per cent increase in the number of boiler claims, compared to the yearly average.
With sub-zero temperatures predicted for the month of February, Direct Line for Business is advising landlords that prevention is better than cure, warning they shouldn’t be complacent when it comes to maintaining their properties’ heating systems. Calling out an emergency plumber to fix a broken boiler carries a premium, as emergency call out rates are on average 117 per cent3 higher than average.
Christina Dimitrov, Business Manager at Direct Line for Business said:
“Being caught cold with heating issues in the winter months can be particularly unpleasant, so it’s vital that landlords make sure their properties have fully serviced boilers to minimise the risk of heating system failures. Landlords are legally responsible for securing a safety certificate for gas appliances each year and they also need to ensure the heating and hot water systems are maintained and functioning properly.
“Direct Line for Business offers boiler cover as standard with buildings insurance, and as long as the damage is not a maintenance issue or due to wear and tear, we’ll pay the cost of repairing, or if repair is not possible, then replacing the broken boiler. We’ll also pay for additional portable heaters to help tenants try and stay warm while the issue is being fixed.”
Direct Line for Business has put together the following top tips for landlords:
- Keep your heating on low: Sudden cold temperatures can freeze your boiler’s external condensate pipe, which could cause your boiler to stop working. Insulating the pipes can help, or try keeping the heating on constantly but low when it’s very cold.
- Bleed your radiators: If your property isn’t getting as warm as you think it should be, there may be air trapped inside the heating system. Releasing air from the system is simple but you will need a key which can slot into the radiators bleed valve. If you still have a problem after doing this, you may need to call in the professionals.
- Keep your boiler maintained: Make sure you service your boiler and keep it maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Check regularly for any warning signs such as leaks, cracks or noises as the sooner you can identify a problem, the easier it will be to fix.
- Turn off services when property is unoccupied: If you do have an unoccupied property for longer than 30 days then it’s worth draining the water system and switching the utilities off. However, if it’s in the winter months then keeping your central heating system on at a minimum temperature can help prevent frozen pipes.
If you’re considering buying a rental property and would like more information on the responsibilities and obligations associated with being a landlord, or for more tips and guidance, please visit the Landlord Knowledge Centre.