With the weather turning, we take a look at the potential winter-related problems that can affect a tenancy deposit - and how to avoid them.

As temperatures plummet and the nights draw in, the elements can have an impact upon properties. For letting agents and landlords, it's important that the right checks are made to ensure any potential damage is avoided or minimised. As ever, preparation is key.

Where possible, landlords should personally carry out a winter inspection to ensure the state of the property is up to scratch.

Checks are necessary both inside and out to make sure that a property is ready for any blows the winter weather may be preparing to land.

It's important that external drains are checked for blockages and tenants should be aware of any responsibility they have to clear those autumn leaves to avoid damaging guttering and drainage. These responsibilities should be outlined in the tenancy agreement beforehand.

Exposed pipes - given their vulnerability to the cold - should be suitably insulated to avoid them freezing and bursting during the winter months, and the boiler should have been serviced recently. Advice may also need to be given to tenants on intervals and levels that heating should be set at during void periods - this should help dodge any potential eventuality of freezing showers leading to an emergency boiler repair call out... no cheap expense over the festive period.

Inside the property, make sure and check for areas of damp, mould and condensation. These are common in the private rented sector (PRS) and are much easier to tackle if dealt with early. Although a tenant might not immediately notice the warning signs, professional contractors should, and it's important that your tenant is notified as quickly as possible so they can keep an eye out and prevent it from worsening.

When checking the garden, it's crucial that potential dangers caused by overhanging branches that could blow off in high winds are monitored to avoid damaging the exterior of the property. It's worth remembering though that, given the contentious nature of gardens in tenancies, responsibilities to maintain the garden are clearly spelled out in the tenancy agreement - while 'maintain' could mean one thing to you it could mean another to the tenant, so make sure they are under no illusions as to what they have to do to fulfil their part of the contract. This is a common cause of disagreement in adjudication cases.

If the property has a fireplace or chimney, make sure you have agreed with the tenant who is responsible for keeping these in good condition.

Once any inspection has been carried out, notify the tenant of the findings in writing so an evidence trail is available if need be. All correspondence should be filed just in case a dispute does arise.

Although winter can bring challenges, it also presents an opportunity to check your property is in good condition and as long as both tenant and landlord or letting agent are aware of and have agreed the part they will play in maintaining a property, there's no reason that the season should be anything less than jolly.