Common problems with properties

Damp

Damp is a common complaint which, if persistent, can lead to dry rot or plaster damage. Tell us of any persistent or recurring damp problem so that we can investigate it and eliminate the cause.

Sometimes tenants report dampness to us, that turns out to be condensation. This happens when warm air meets a cold surface such as a wall or window and the moisture in the air turns into droplets of water. It often causes mould growth in corners or behind furniture. You can limit or prevent condensation by doing the following:

  • Open a window while you are cooking, and keep lids on saucepans. Use the extractor fan if you have one.
  • Keep kitchen and bathroom doors closed while these rooms are in use, to prevent moisture reaching other rooms.
  • Dry clothes outside where possible. If you have to dry them indoors, put them in the bathroom with the windows open or fan on and the door closed.
  • Leave some background heating on if possible during colder weather to keep the walls warmer. Do not use paraffin, oil or calor gas – their use is prohibited in your tenancy agreement. They give off a gallon of water for every gallon of fuel used, and they can also be a fire hazard.
  • Check that airbricks and air vents are not blocked up.
  • Leave the bathroom window open or extractor fan on after taking a bath, to clear the steam. Reduce the amount of steam by putting an inch of cold water in the bath before running the hot tap.
  • Open windows in all your rooms for a few minutes every day to allow some fresh air to circulate.

If, despite these efforts, your condensation problem persists, contact your Housing Manager.

Another cause of damp is rising damp. Make sure the soil level has not been raised above the damp course or above air bricks inserted to keep the floor ventilated.

High fuel bills

Several ways of paying fuel bills may make budgeting easier. Contact your local electricity and gas companies to find out what is available, and talk to their customer advisers about ways to keep your costs down by using fuel wisely.

Hot water

Before the start of any tenancy we check that the electrical wiring is safe and that the immersion heater is set to a reasonable level. It is a good idea for you to check that your hot water is set between 60 and 65C (140-150F) to prevent your fuel bills being too high. Check that the cylinder lagging is properly in place and in good condition. If it is worn out, let us know and we will replace it. Most immersion heaters have dual elements enabling either a small amount of water at the top of the tank to be heated (setting on ‘sink’) or the full tank to be heated (setting on ‘bath’). Using the setting for the ‘sink’ most of the time may save you money.

Central Heating

All of our properties have central heating, and a room thermostat is normally provided. You should check that the temperature is set no higher that 21C (70F), again to prevent your fuel bills being too high. If you are not sure how to work any hot water or heating appliance in your home, contact your Housing Manager straight away.

Washing Machine

If you have an automatic washing machine please make sure that it is properly plumbed in by a competent person, and regularly checked for leaks. Push-on tap connectors and wash pipes hung over the sink should not be used. We get many complaints from tenants in downstairs flats about leaks caused by washing machines in upstairs flats that are not properly plumbed in. Remember that you are liable for damage to the property and to your neighbour’s decorations and possessions if a flood is caused in this way.

Blocked sinks & WCs

Please be careful about what is poured down sinks and flushed down toilets. Pour old cooking oil into an old plastic bottle and put it in the dustbin. All waste food should be put in the dustbin. Disposable nappies, sanitary towels, incontinence pads etc. should not be flushed down the toilet. Despite manufacturer’s assurances on packages, they often cause blockages. If blockages occur in drains and waste pipes due to your carelessness, we will charge you for unblocking them.

Blocked drains

Please help by keeping external drains free of debris such as fallen leaves. Drains in the basement area at the front of the house are the responsibility of all tenants in the house. Drains at the back of the house are the responsibility of all tenants who have access to the garden.

Infestations

If you discover infestations of cockroaches, fleas, rats, mice or any other pests in your home, you should contact the Environmental Health Department at your local council. Most councils deal with these problems free of charge, or will advise you on the best way to eradicate pests. If a whole block of our properties is infested or has rats, please contact your Housing Manager.

Dustbins & washing lines

Please ensure your bin area is clean and tidy, and make sure that all rubbish is wrapped and placed in the waste or recycling bins, and keep the lids on them. Extra rubbish should be kept in plastic bags until collection. If you need to dispose of larger items of rubbish e.g. old furniture or carpets, you should not leave them in the dustbin area. Instead please arrange with the refuse department at your town hall to make a special collection, or take the items to the local council dump.

Internal doors

If you have carpets fitted and need doors adjusted afterwards, you should make your own arrangements for this at your own expense.