Christmas in a rented property checklist

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Entertaining

Welcoming overnight guests? Good landlords will have no problem with this at all but do check your tenancy agreement in case there are restrictions.
HMOs: Guests are usually allowed as long as it doesn’t become too frequent, but it’s polite to check with the other house sharers about their plans for visitors, to ensure it doesn’t get too overcrowded.
  Plan B: If there’s simply no room, check out other accommodation locally, although B&Bs and AirBnBs may be closed or already booked up. Big chain budget hotels should have rooms available and even in London you’ll only pay around £40 per person per night, based on two people sharing; in some areas, it’s half that price.
 

Going away

 

The RLA has the following advice: “The key thing is to prepare for a cold snap.  Lots of renters will be going to visit family over the Christmas break so they should remember to leave their heating on low or have it come on for at least an hour a day.  Otherwise while they’re back home visiting family their pipes might be bursting.  And nobody wants to come back to that on 27th December.

“It may be advisable to ask a neighbour to keep an eye on any property that will be empty for a significant amount of time during the winter months.”

  You can find more Christmas and winter tips from the RLA here.
HMOs: Check everybody’s plans for Christmas; if the property is going to be empty, be sure to leave it secure.
 

Decorating

Before you go wild with garlands, paper chains and all the trimmings, check your tenancy agreement to see what’s allowed. Good landlords will be happy for you to treat your rented property as your home, although if you knock nails in the walls, some may ask you to ‘make good’ before you leave.
HMOsTalk to other house sharers before decorating communal areas to make sure everyone’s happy with your plans.
Plan B: White tack may be allowed, even if Blu Tack isn’t. Command Hooks are ideal as they can be removed without causing damage. If you do happen to have a strict landlord, you can still add a festive atmosphere by draping garlands over existing fixtures, such as mirrors, mantelpieces and cupboards. If you have space to store them, invest in a festive throw or cushion covers for the sofa.
 

Damage

Getting a big Christmas tree into position can scratch paint and wallpaper, no matter how careful you are.
Take extra care when taking down decorations so that white tack, for example, doesn’t tear wallpaper.
Remember you are responsible for any damage to the room/property, even if it is caused by a guest, and the cost of repairing damage could come out of your deposit.
Plan B: A small tree can look just as festive, while an artificial one can often be assembled in situ, so you don’t have to wrestle it through any doorways. Tying or draping decorations rather than fixing them in place should avoid potential damage.
 

Safety

The combination of candles and flimsy decorations can be disastrous, so keep them apart and never leave candles unattended.
Don’t overload plug sockets with fairy lights as they can overheat and cause fires.
Don’t leave fairy lights on while you are out or in bed.
Test smoke alarms and replace the batteries – you should do this twice a year and making it part of your Christmas decorating routine makes it easy to remember.
Ensure you have up-to-date emergency contact information in case there’s an electrical or plumbing issue over the festive season.
HMOsMany HMOs, such as student houses, ban the use of candles completely, for safety reasons.
Plan B: Battery tealights are very effective – they even flicker like a real candle. Modern LED fairy lights are safer than old-style lights as they don’t get hot.
 

Home security

Burglars know that homes are worth raiding at Christmas, due to all those presents under the tree.
Ensure your property is locked at all times, and take extra care if you have visitors as they may not be as diligent as you are.
Plan B: If your tree is visible from the window, keep presents hidden away until the last minute. When it’s dark, keep curtains closed so passers-by can’t see inside.
The Residential Landlords Association also has these tips for landlords:
  • Check you know how the boiler works, the location of the stopcock and how to change the thermostat in your properties.

  • We are encouraging members to keep an eye on vulnerable tenants during the cold weather, particularly over the festive season.

  • Get in contact with elderly tenants, as well as people with health problems, those on low incomes and disabled people to ensure they are prepared for the cold.

  • It may be worth asking a neighbour to keep an eye out for vulnerable tenants during the winter months.

 


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