How To Avoid Water Leaks As A Landlord

Being a landlord can often be a lot more of a challenge than many people anticipate when they purchase their first property. Unexpected expenses, damage to property, and non-payment of rent can all cause a bump in profitability, but to a certain extent, many of these things can be factored in, and contingency measures put in place, such as an emergency fund.

Water Leaks, on the other hand, although increasingly common, are one of those potential disasters that can easily be overlooked, with potentially catastrophic consequences. According to Direct Line Insurance, in 2020, insurance companies paid out £1.8 Million every day to customers who made escape of water claims on their home insurance.

In the vast majority of these cases, this is for people living in their own property. However much we might want to believe it, a tenant is highly unlikely to pay as much care and attention to the upkeep of their home as the homeowner themselves, particularly if the leak is minor or even hidden behind a wall or under a floorboard.

As with most things in life, prevention is infinitely better than cure, so this article is written with the aim of providing landlords across the country with ideas on how to prevent water leaks from happening in the first place. In fact, if anything, hidden water leaks have become (and are likely to remain) higher than in previous years due to the way in which the pandemic has changed how we work. More tenants are likely to be working from home, at least part-time, and there is significant evidence to suggest that even when the pandemic passes, more and more companies will continue to let or even encourage their staff to work from home. This means that toilets are being flushed more, heating systems are being used constantly, and taps are being turned on and off with much more regularity, increasing the risk of wear and tear and potential problems.

Let's look at some straightforward things that a landlord can do to help prevent substantial damage from occurring in their properties.

Educate Your Tenants on the Location of the Stopcock

If and when a leak does occur, the priority is to stop the flow of water as quickly as possible, and the best way to do this is by turning off the stopcock. Many landlords fail to inform their tenants of the location of the stopcock, which could lead to unnecessary damage occurring. When visiting the property to hand over the keys to a new tenant, always take the time to show them where the stopcock is and show them how to turn the water off if necessary. This one tip alone could potentially save you thousands of pounds in damage.

Concealed Sinks or Toilets

Modern features such as concealed sinks and toilets can help the aesthetic look of a property and may help convince a prospective tenant to sign on the dotted line. Unfortunately, these assets can also be liabilities as they can hide leaks enabling leaking water to cause untold damage over a longer period of time. ADI Leak Detection is one of many companies across the county specialising in finding hidden leaks, which signifies the extent of the problem around the country. Although these types of leaks cannot be prevented, identify the potential source of these leaks to your new tenant, and encourage them to check under the sink, and remove the lid of the cabinet around the toilet regularly to check for any signs of a leak.

Check Appliances on a Regular Basis

Washing machines and dishwashers are another key selling point for landlords, but there is also an increased risk of leaks from damaged pipes. Ensure that your tenants check the pipe connections and the flexibility of the hose pipes. If they notice that the pipes are becoming old and brittle, they should either replace them immediately or inform you to perform this vital task.

Take Accurate Water Meter Readings Regularly

Not all leaks are blindingly obvious, such as those occurring underground in the water supply pipes. Many people do not realise that if the leak occurs within the boundaries of your property, you as the property owner are legally responsible for any repairs required.

Unfortunately, an underground pipe can be leaking for months before any damage becomes apparent, and in the meantime, the structure of your property could be irretrievably damaged. An easy way to ensure this doesn't happen is to take regular water meter readings. Most tenants will be responsible for paying the water rates, so they have an added incentive to check the meter regularly. If they notice that all of a sudden, the consumption of water in the property has increased exponentially, then that is often the first sign of an impending problem. The good news is that the quicker the leak is identified, the less damage is likely to be caused.

None of the above ideas is particularly ground-breaking or difficult to implement, which makes them even more powerful. By spending a little time educating your tenants and encouraging them to be proactive in preventing and identifying leaks, you are significantly less likely to end up with an expensive bill and much more likely to maximise the potential of your business endeavours.