Is your Investment Property Ready for Winter?
With winter now upon us, it is important to ensure your investment property is prepared for the change in weather.
The number one challenge in winter is mould.
More and more research is becoming available on the health dangers posed by mould, though it is still a grey area in regards to rental properties.
There are basically four ways that mould exists in properties:
Cooking, showers and drying clothes indoors are the main ways that tenants contribute to the build-up of excessive moisture inside a property. Without adequate ventilation, the excess moisture will result in condensation and eventually mould will form. The best and cheapest remedy is ventilation – opening windows or providing airways to let the steam and condensation escape.
Repairs and maintenance
Mould can also be caused by a lack of maintenance, or repairs that have not been carried out quickly enough. For example, if a blocked gutter spills water onto walls and inside wall cavities, this would be a maintenance issue. If the gutters need replacing, it would be a repair issue.
It is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that the property is maintained correctly and that repairs are carried out in a timely manner to prevent mould occurring.
Design of the property
Sometimes it’s the design of a property – the way it is sited or built – that may cause mould to become a problem. Some south-facing walls rarely see any sunshine and will remain damp for much longer after rainfalls. In persistent wet weather, walls may not get a chance to dry out. Additionally, there will be areas of the house such as basements that are more prone to condensation.
Tropical zones where high temperatures are combined with high humidity and/or rainfall, such as Cairns, are more prone to mould growth.
Given that there is little one can do to change the structure of a property, it becomes the tenant’s responsibility to make sure there is adequate ventilation to prevent the build-up of mould.
Mould can be destructive to both the property and its fittings. By making it easier for the tenant to manage and prevent mould build up, you are also looking after your own interests.
Tips to counter mould:
- Have the kitchen exhaust fan and clothes dryer ducted to the outside wherever possible to help ventilate rather than recirculate.
- In bathrooms, choose an exhaust fan activated by the light switch to control steam.
- Regular cleaning is necessary in bathrooms, kitchens and laundries particularly around tile grout and silicon.
- Make sure showers are properly water-proofed to meet the National Construction Code standards so as to prevent water seeping through walls. This is very common in older properties. Waterproof membranes don’t last forever and are likely to break down in five to ten years.
- Under-house ventilation systems can reduce moisture collecting under floors. They can be inexpensive and automatic, timed to self-activate throughout the day.
- Use mould-inhibiting paints to reduce the effects of condensation.
- In wet areas, use paints with a higher gloss level and avoid a matt or flat finish.
- Control damp coming from outside by checking for leaks in roofs, gutters and downpipes.
- Install a gutter-guard system to prevent leaves causing blockages.
- Consider window security that enables some windows to be left slightly open to provide ventilation.
Winter is coming, is your property ready?
For more handy tips on preparing your property for winter see our blog “Winter is Coming- A Rental Property Checklist”
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