Hot weather advice for landlords & tenants
British weather is unpredictable. One moment you’re in polar fleece, the next you’re in a paddling pool but what is certain is that our summers are set to get hotter. Professor of Climate Change Science at the University of East Anglia, Corinne Le Quere, has said that 2018’s extreme, prolonged hot weather was ‘most likely’ to be repeated every summer - a conclusion derived from a decade of weather data and monitoring of climate change effects.
Don’t ignore the dangers of extreme heat
“When we talk about adverse weather, we often think of heavy snowfall, severe flooding or gale-force winds but we rarely think of how extreme temperatures can affect property and its inhabitants,” says Amilcar Caires from Grosvenor Billinghurst’s Woking office. “While it’s tempting to dream of deckchairs and dry spells, future proofing rented properties and advising tenants with hot weather in mind is sensible.”
Preparing your property for a heatwave
Excess heat in a property can cause dehydration, strokes, heart attacks, breathing difficulties and infections, so it’s very important for landlords to provide accommodation that facilities people keeping cool - especially if there are elderly, vulnerable or young tenants in the property. Landlords should consider the precautionary and reactionary measures they can take to make living more bearable when the mercury rises.
“It is often a case of common sense,” adds Amilcair, “but when it’s extremely hot, it’s easy to lose focus. Many issues can be overcome by sending a polite reminder or an advisory note.”
8 heatwave hotspots to address:
- Waste disposal - rotting food and flies are a health hazard, so a note to tenants about food disposal and minimising the build-up of waste is sensible. Don’t forget, it is a landlord’s legal responsibility to provide tenants with adequate waste facilities.
- Windows & doors - the condition of rental property must allow tenants to be able to open all doors and windows in a safe, secure manner.
- Insect advice - while it’s only natural to throw open the doors and windows, as above, it can be an invitation for small creatures to come in and make a new home. Tenants should be encouraged to report ant infestations or wasp nests.
- Summer security - an open back door or window left ajar is sometimes all the temptation a criminal needs. Tenants should be reminded to shut and lock all openings when they leave the property, no matter how hot it is, as failure to do so can invalidate an insurance policy.
- Provision of fans - landlords are not obliged to supply fans or cooling towers but if they do as part of the tenancy, each one must be PAT tested and maintained in a safe condition as a legal requirement.
- Air conditioning - if the property comes with mains-operated air conditioning, it is the duty of the landlord to make sure it works safely and is serviced regularly. If the system is water cooled, it will also need Legionella testing. If landlords supply portable air conditioning units, these must also be PAT tested.
- Bonfires - while there are no laws preventing bonfires, there are laws attached to the nuisance they cause. It’s also prohibited to burn household waste if it will cause pollution and harm people’s health. Bonfires should be discouraged, especially during heatwaves when gardens are dry and highly flammable.
- BBQs - the smell of a BBQ on a summer’s day is a thing of joy but tenants should be encouraged to cook al fresco with fire safety in mind and be aware of the carbon monoxide dangers of bringing a disposable BBQ inside.
How tenants can help themselves
Tenants can keep cool at home by following some simple steps, including:-
- Don’t add more heat to the property by over-using the oven, stove, lights or TV screens
- Create a through breeze by opening all the windows
- Keep blinds and curtains shut to keep out the sun’s glare
- Stay well hydrated but avoid caffeine and alcohol
- Stay inside during the hottest parts of the day - between 11 am and 4 pm