Well we’re just a few weeks away from Christmas so it feels like a great time to talk about the unique challenges and opportunities of being a landlord during the festive season.
I’m sure you’re expecting me to give you the usual tips, and you definitely will find those scattered throughout this article, but there may also be a few surprise tips that you hadn’t considered too!
Grab yourself a mince pie and a cuppa and unwrap these top tips on having a very merry landlord Christmas. (That’s the start and end of the bad Christmas puns I promise!).
Prepare Yourself and Your Tenants for Christmas
Before we reach the start of the holiday period, get in touch with your tenants. Find out what their plans are for the Christmas period and let them know yours too. No, this isn’t in the interests of socialising! If your tenant is going to be away this will give you the opportunity to ask them to leave the heating on, and maybe to leave the lights on a timer. Encourage your tenants to take any of the usual precautions you would take if you were leaving your property unoccupied for any length of time. Essentially you want to make sure the property is protected against burst pipes, burglaries and electrical failures.
If you’re going to be away over Christmas or there will be times that you are unavailable, let your tenants know this and explain how (and when) they can get hold of you in an emergency. If you’re going to be totally incommunicado, arrange for someone else to be on call instead. It might also be a good idea to let your tenant know what your definition of emergency is, just to avoid any misunderstanding.
You should do this even if you use a letting agent. Your letting agent is very unlikely to find out what your tenant’s Christmas plans are unless you specifically ask them to (and you’ll probably pay for the privilege as well).
Do Your Winter Checks
You should have already done your winter checks by now, but if you haven’t gotten around to it make sure you do them before Christmas. Once you’re certain your properties can withstand a cold snap you can rest easy over the holiday because you will have significantly reduced the likelihood of weather-related disasters.
At the very least you want to make sure the pipes in your rental properties are lagged, the gutters are clear, and there are no obvious property weaknesses that will let in the cold and damp weather that the UK is famous for at this time of year.
If you want some extra peace of mind you should consider installing outside lighting at your rentals (if you haven’t already). Make sure walkways and property exits are free and clear of hazards. The last thing you want is for your tenant to fall over something you’ve been storing (or neglecting) in the garden.
Be Fire Conscious
It sure is the right time of year to remind your tenants about fire safety. During the festive season homes get decked out in Christmas lights, candles, and all manner of draped sparkly things to chase the 3pm darkness away. To reduce the risk of fires in your rental properties give your tenants a fire safety refresh. Tell tenants not to use old Christmas lights, not to leave Christmas lights on overnight or to leave them on while they are unattended. Remind them to be careful when using candles and not to use them beneath hung decorations or too close to furnishings.
Set Social Rules
While we’re on the subject you should also let your tenants know if you have any special conditions when it comes to parties. It’s common to throw parties and invite friends and family around at this time of year, so if you want to avoid noise complaints from neighbours or you’ve had issues with noisy tenants in the past, just remind your tenants of the social etiquette of living close to others!
You should also gently remind your tenants how you feel about decorations. Like most people tenants will want to adorn their living spaces with festive decorations. If you’ve got strong feelings about blue tack marks or the use of Sellotape on painted walls, make sure to remind your tenants. If you’ve got good tenants though, consider letting them use blue tack, no one likes a grinch at Christmas!
When it comes to New Year’s Eve you may find tenants want to let off fireworks. For the most part as long as the tenant takes the right precautions, there shouldn’t be an issue with this. If there are overhead electricity cables at the property or if the garden is particularly flammable (i.e. covered in wooden decking) you should let your tenant know that they shouldn’t let off fireworks around the property.
Write Your Tenants a Christmas Card
A little thought goes a long way. If you’ve had a good year with your tenants drop them a Christmas card to let them know that you appreciate them. A small percentage of landlords will also give their tenant a gift, just a box of chocolates or something along those lines. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, or send a gift at all, but a card will be a nice touch that is appreciated by your tenants. You don’t have to get all soppy with the message inside either, a message like:
“Dear Tenant, Have a wonderful Christmas and a lovely New Year. From Your landlord”
will work wonders.
Plan for the Year Ahead
As the year draws to a close it’s the perfect time to reflect on the last 12 months and figure out what you want from the year ahead. While you should assess your property business and how that’s gone, it’s also a good time to reflect on life in general and whether you’re getting what you want from it.
What went well for you this year and what didn’t go so well? How can you improve on your successes from the last year and what can you learn from your failures? Take the time to reflect and think about your goals and strategies for the year ahead and start the new year as you mean to go on.
Take a Break
Life is challenging and stressful at the best of times. Use Christmas as an opportunity to take a break from work and from your properties. Recharge your batteries by doing something you enjoy. Spend some time with your family, read a good book, curl up on the sofa with some Christmas snacks and a good film. However you decide to do it, take a load off!
If relaxation isn’t something you are fully acquainted with check out this post which covers all the ways you can relax this Christmas:
No one can be on the go permanently, it’s a recipe for disastrous burnout! You deserve a break and you should make the time to take one. Once you’ve had a good rest you can head into 2020 feeling more relaxed, refreshed and ready to take on another year!
So that’s how to have a very merry landlord Christmas! Got any other festive tips that should be included in this article? Let me know in the comments and I’ll add them in.
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