Welcome to winter everyone – so cool and invigorating – no more long weekends till late October – yes it definitely winters in Canterbury.

This is the time of year that we need to make sure gutters and spoutings have been cleaned out so that they can take the winter rain and snow deluge – otherwise the water runs into the house causing leaks and this is not something anyone wants. The cost is minimal so when your property manager suggests this, please email her to say ‘go ahead’. The same is to be said for chimney cleans/heatpump servicing/gas fire servicing and pellet fires – these need to be serviced if not annually then at least every second year – often this is a requirement of your insurance policy so please make sure these appliances are well maintained.

June is also the time of year when we notice high levels of condensation in properties. During our inspections we are very quick to report on this and discuss with tenants how they can minimise this. Whilst this is more common in older homes, we are vigilant on all our inspections. Interestingly, as a person in her mid 50’s, I do not recall condensation to the property I lived in, during my early childhood. In my early years to age 12, I lived in an old house on our farm with only pink batts to the ceiling as insulation. We had an old coalrange, an open fire to the lounge, and a nightstore heater to the hallway. We never had mould or condensation and yet we dried our clothes on a clothes horse in front of the open fire at night if they hadn’t dried during the day. Sure it was cold in the mornings when we got up, often the cold water taps were frozen, but we never had the issues we frequently see today of condensation and mould. I often ponder as to why? Perhaps it was because we slept with our bedroom doors open, our beds were never hard up against the walls, and there was always a good gap so that air could flow freely, and when we got up, curtains were pulled right back to let in the sun, and the top windows were opened and perhaps it was because my mother always had both the coalrange and lounge open fire on most of the day. Who knows? So why do we see so much condensation and mould today? Well people sleep with bedroom doors closed, often they never open their curtains in winter and rarely do they open their windows even when they are at home, many have their beds right hard up against walls, therefore preventing airflow, and more people are out working during the day. Not everyone uses their heatpumps as they should, and some people don’t operate their logburners because they think wood is expensive. There are also many properties that don’t have insulation. Whilst we explain to ALL tenants how best to use their heatpumps/logburners etc, when to pull the curtains closed etc, lack of insulation to a property doesn’t help. Insulation is a must for ALL properties – we are getting these insulation checks carried out for those properties where owners are unsure of what is currently existing. Whilst all owners have until July 2019 to bring substandard insulation up to code and therefore eliminate their risk of being fined, we would encourage all owners to get on to this NOW rather than next year or, heaven forbid, 2019, when costs will have increased considerably. Ask yourself – would you live in an under insulated property in Canterbury? The answer is a resounding ‘No’. Canterbury is a cold province in winter – period! Do everything you can to make your property warm and inviting. If you think it’s too cold to live in, why would you think someone would want to rent it? Remember we are still in a market where demand is not keeping up with the amount of properties available for rent.

Whilst we wait for the guidelines on Meth Testing and Contamination, it is a timely reminder for everyone to consider getting their property tested before tenants move in as being ‘best practice’ especially considering this recent (April 2017) ruling from the Tenancy Tribunal regarding a case where they property was Meth contaminated, and the Tribunal ruled in favour of the Tenant. It makes for sober reading.