Cleaning GuidesHow to Clean Gutters Safely
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It’s fair to say that gutter maintenance is often overlooked by homeowners and landlords in Australia and other countries. It’s just too easy to forget or postpone the arrangement for a routine check and cleaning of the guttering and downpipes. Unfortunately, the saying “why fix something that’s not broken”, in this case, can play a bad joke on the property owner, as when water damage occurs, due to malfunctioning gutters, it can result in costly repairs and a rejected insurance claim.
But who is responsible for maintaining and cleaning the gutters in an occupied rental property? The tenant or the landlord? Do you know your tenant rights and responsibilities? Are you a homeowner of a rental property and unsure about what your obligations are, regarding key maintenance jobs, like gutter inspection and cleaning, which need to be done on a regular basis? Well, this post will try to clarify exactly that.
So, read on if you:
We hope that you’ll find all the answers right here.
But first things first. Why is gutter maintenance important?
As we all know, the gutters and downpipes’ purpose is to let rainwater flow unobstructedly and away from the immediate exterior surfaces and features of a property (the roof, walls, porches, windows and doors). Their design, however, is prone to debris build-up, even when gutter guards are installed. Therefore, regular cleaning of the gutters ensures that fallen leaves and twigs, tree blossoms, and sometimes, insect, rodent and birds’ nests and waste, are removed in time and well before significant blockages occur. Those, of course, will inevitably lead to the risk of property water damage that can result in the compromised structural integrity of the property and expensive repairs.
What’s more, during hot summer seasons, fire hazards, due to dry leaves, twigs and empty birds’ nests, are also something to be aware of, especially if you live in a region that is prone to bushfire risks.
In addition, pests can also pose a problem, be it a family of mice or a colony of insects, breeding uncontrollably in the guttering, ready to invade and move to other areas of your property.
Last but not least, unmaintained gutters may eventually rust, collapse and even fall down – a scenario that can be easily prevented with regular inspections and clearing of all unwanted accumulations of debris.
How often to clean gutters and downpipes kind of depends on the location of the property and its surroundings. Do you have trees with overhanging branches near the roof? Are the gutters easily accessible by wildlife or pests? If the answer is “yes”, then, it’s best to inspect them a good two times a year, at least, and clean them if necessary.
Otherwise, the rule of thumb is that cleaning gutters should take place once every 12 months, best, in late autumn when trees nearby have already shed their leaves. After all, over the coming months, the risk of build-up of organic debris is much less than during any other times of the year.
However, if you have specific tree species in your garden, near the house, which shed blossoms and leaves throughout the summer, then inspecting and cleaning your gutters then and later on in the colder months will prevent you from worrying about both fire risks and property water damage.
And now, back to our main topic. Although the tenants have the responsibility to maintain the rented property in good condition, take care of the garden and address minor repair issues, gutter cleaning and maintenance is more often than not the obligation of the landlord. You see, the landlord is responsible for maintaining their investment in a rentable condition and when gutters suffer normal wear and tear problems, it’s NOT the tenant’s job to remedy them at their cost.
Despite the fact that some landlords may argue that the maintenance of gutters and downpipes is not any different from trimming the hedges (a tenant’s obligation), this is not entirely true. You see, one cannot expect the tenants to risk their lives climbing a ladder and working on the roof of a property that they do not own. Nor should they pay out of their pocket to maintain the structural integrity of the landlord’s property.
And to confirm the above, the RTA (the Residential Tenancy Authority) stipulates clearly who is actually responsible for cleaning gutters in a rental property, as well as some exceptions to the rule. Those involve the evidence of negligence on the tenant’s part that has led to the obstruction of the rainwater drainage system, or worse, to clear water damage to the property.
So, whether the tenant has failed to immediately notify the landlord of a gutter functioning problem, say, after a severe weather event, or they have not removed an item, such as a toy, drone, kite, etc. that has ended up blocking the gutter, this can ultimately free the landlord from any responsibilities, related to covering the cost of gutter cleaning and/or repairs.
If you spot the sign of blockages in the gutters of the property you’re renting, such as overflows during a rainy day or dripping water, instead of a steady flow down the downpipes, then, you should notify your landlord or letting agency straightway. Stay calm and let them arrange for a professional gutter inspection and cleaning service, during which the cause for the issue can be determined with ease.
Should the reason behind the blocked gutters be your own negligence, then don’t fight against the fair expectations for you to pay the gutter cleaning bill. However, if no fault on your part has been established, then, it will be the landlord’s responsibility to cover the cost of eliminating the problem.
If you’re a landlord, you can by now guess that preventative gutter maintenance is key. So, put the task of checking your gutters and downpipes regularly on your to-do list, during your routine property inspections. This will help you avoid costly repairs and unwanted tension between you and your conscientious tenants. In addition, why fast-forward unnecessarily the occurrence of wear and tear to the guttering, when you can stop this from happening by maintaining it clean and repairing issues with it in due time?
Contact us to book a professional gutter maintenance expert!
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