Winter can be a stressful time for many landlords, since storms and floods can potentially cause serious damage to their property. For those who rent out to house shares or students, the risks may be slightly greater. Students in particular can leave property empty over winter holidays - and especially the Christmas and New Year periods - meaning the property is more liable to be vandalised or broken into. Equally, younger tenants may not take precautions such as draining the water system in order to prevent frozen pipes and subsequent flooding – it is important to check your buy to let insurance to see what you need to do to comply with the policy.
If you are able to, it is prudent to visit the property yourself and ask if and when the tenants will be leaving for the festive season. Be sure to give notice of a visit, if your tenancy agreement states it. Visiting in mid-December should ensure you do not visit when nobody is at home - although some students may well leave earlier than this.
Ask your tenants to ensure the property is secure, and ask them if they would drain the water system. Alternatively, you can drain it yourself, although this may involve the property being empty between the point when the students leave and the point when you visit. You may also consider sending a friendly letter to your tenants well in advance of the festive season.
As well as taking these precautions, ensure your let property insurance is also up to date.