Landlords have been warned to prepare their properties ahead of winter as it’s revealed that burst pipes are one of the most common reasons for an insurance claim.

Dave Williams, said research had shown that a high number of claims paid out to landlords in recent years were due to “escape of water”.

“Escape of water means water damage from within the property such as leaking pipes or water tanks, baths, sinks, toilets, or appliances such as dishwashers or washing machines. And because the damage is inside the property, it can be expensive and time-consuming to put right.”

Dave said given the frequency of burst pipes, property owners should ensure they had comprehensive landlord insurance in place.

“A comprehensive policy should not only cover the cost of any work required repair the water damage, but also the loss of any rent or the cost of alternative accommodation for your tenants, and the landlord’s public liability responsibility.”

But Dave said there were steps that landlords and tenants could take to try to reduce the risks before the winter weather really kicked in.

“Make sure pipes are lagged and the loft is insulated as this will help stop the pipes freezing and bursting in areas of the property that are the most vulnerable to the cold such as outside walls and unheated areas.

“Tenants should be encouraged to keep the heating system on but to turn down the thermostat – that will mean even in freezing conditions, the heating will come on preventing the water in the pipes from freezing and eventually bursting.”

Dave said it was vital that there was clear communication between the landlord and tenants so that everyone was clear on the actions they should take if an incident happened.

“It’s vital that your tenants know where the stopcock is in case they need to turn the water supply off. If they act swiftly, they can reduce the potential damage and save crucial time and ultimately reduce the cost of the repairs.

“Put together a welcome pack for when they move in that includes the details of an emergency plumber along with their tenancy agreement, which includes a clause that requires them to inform you if the property is due to be empty for any extended period.

“You should ensure both you and your tenants are clear on what to do in an emergency and that the tenancy agreement sets out what both your responsibilities would be.”