Top tips for maintaining white goods and keeping them safe
As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to make sure the properties you let are in good working order and safe for tenants, this includes maintaining your white goods. Paul Lavin, Head of Sales at Currys PC World Business, shares his top tips for looking after white goods.
Why is it important to maintain your white goods?
What would our lives be like without white goods? From washing machines and dishwashers to fridges and cookers, they provide the basic but vital services we expect to have in our homes.
However, having the most up-to-date appliances is not always enough. What is equally as important is making sure that these appliances are regularly maintained and safe to use.
Research has shown that in the UK around 60 fires per week are caused by faulty household items such as fridges and tumble dryers. Government figures acquired from a 2018 Freedom of Information request found that between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 2016, 6,206 household fires were caused by defective appliances and leads. Small faults in seemingly innocuous electrical equipment can have dangerous consequences.
For landlords, ensuring tenant safety is especially important as you take on responsibility for your tenants’ welfare and living standards. Whether you are a professional, commercial or first-time landlord, this short guide will show you how to keep your white goods in tip-top shape.
Six tips for keeping your white goods safe
1. Prep before you purchase
Our screens are flooded with adverts on the latest deals and the most high-tech white goods. However, purchasing the right washing machine or microwave can quickly leave you in a spin. It would be a mistake to go on price alone as the most expensive product doesn’t necessarily mean the most reliable.
It’s important to properly research the assorted brands and products that are available. Think about the features you really need, don’t just walk into a store with a list of questions and no idea of what you’re after.
Getting clued up on appliance guarantees is also advisable, especially if you’re struggling to distinguish between products. You will save yourself a lot of trouble by going to a retailer who can provide proper advice and not just one trading by price alone.
2. Go back to basics
Ensuring your white goods appliances are safe for tenants can be made a whole lot easier by simply being aware of basic safety steps. For example, having at least one smoke alarm on each floor and changing the batteries once a year, as well as making sure fire extinguishers are clearly available near to your appliances.
Reading instruction manuals for your white goods may seem obvious but it’s usually forgotten. Modern day white goods are more complex and come with a lot of advice, warnings and essential maintenance instructions that you need to know about. It is also advisable that you register any new appliances. This way you can be contacted by manufacturers who have discovered safety issues with their products and need to let you know.
3. Location, location, location
Once you’ve got your appliances, you need to know where to place them. Like any electronic appliance, white goods can be fragile and malfunction if overheated or left in damp conditions.
Appliances need to be installed in an area free of dampness and condensation, at a suitable temperature and with enough room behind them to provide decent ventilation to avoid overheating. For example, it would be unwise to plug too many appliances into one socket.
4. Don’t just forget about them
As a landlord it is your legal responsibility to make sure that electronic installations are in a safe condition throughout a tenancy.
As advised by Electrical Safety First, electrical installations need to be checked by a registered electrician on every change of tenancy. Having an Electrical Installation Condition Report confirming that the equipment has been assessed and is safe to use is vital for protecting your business and proving that standards are being met.
It also wouldn’t hurt to be proactive and visit every now and again to check sockets and equipment to see if anything needs repairing or replacing.
5. Don’t be a stranger to your tenants
While it’s your responsibility to ensure quality white goods are installed and safe, you also need to make sure tenants are aware of their responsibility for keeping them in good condition.
Keeping an open line of communication can help, making sure they feel comfortable flagging electrical problems as soon as they appear. However, conversation is a two-way street – so make sure you’re also giving specific safety instructions (and explaining why it’s important) when needed. For example, leaving equipment running whilst out, overloading machines or simply failing to keep areas around equipment clean and clear.
There is no point having instruction manuals if tenants don’t have access to them – so make sure these are in a place where your tenants can grab them if they need them.
6. Get cover for your appliances
If your white goods do get damaged, you’ll want to replace them quickly to reduce the inconvenience to your tenants. Having contents insurance in place will mean that the cost of fixing or replacing any damaged goods is covered, as long as the damage meets the conditions of your policy and is not caused due to wear and tear.
You can learn more about Direct Line for Business’s landlord contents insurance here.
From maintaining basic safety standards to reducing long-term costs, white goods maintenance should be high on the list of priorities for landlords – it is an ongoing responsibility, not one that ends as soon as they have been purchased and installed.
Want to know more about your responsibilities as a landlord? Read our blog to get up to speed on the EPC rating changes for landlords.
You can find out more about our award-winning landlord insurance here.