Looking after your home

This section provides you with advice about how to look after your home. You can find more information on your responsibilities with maintaining the inside of your home in your online account.

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Damp and condensation

If your home is damp, your first reaction may be to think there's something wrong.

However, most damp comes from condensation which occurs when warm air meets a cold surface. This is caused by the way we live. In a small number of cases, damp is a result of water penetrating through the structure of the house.

To help you find out what’s happening in your home, please watch this video.

If after watching the video you think you have damp in your home and it's structural and not due to condensation, please sign up or sign in to your online account to read our Damp and Condensation leaflet for more information. You can also report it to us immediately and we’ll help you get it sorted.

Dealing with household pests

Insects and rodents can pose a serious health and infection risk to your home. Rodents can also cause extensive damage to your property.

It’s your responsibility to sort out any pest problems you have. You can read our Pest Control leaflet for advice on what you can do to reduce the chance of rodents and insects in your home. You can get this by signing up or signing in to your online account. It’s our responsibility to fix holes in the brickwork, roof or skirting board in your home where rodents can gain access. Please report these to us via your online account.

If you need more support, please contact your Local Authority and speak to the Environmental Services Department.

Contents insurance

You’re responsible for the contents in your home. We recommend you take out insurance, covering theft or damage to your personal possessions, carpets, furniture and other household items. This will give you the peace of mind that you won’t have to find the money to replace your belongings if they’re damaged or stolen.

We work with an insurance company to provide special rates for our customers. If you’d like to arrange cover sign into your online account.

Please note you don’t need to arrange buildings insurance. This is covered by the service charges you pay.

Disposing of large household items

It’s your responsibility to dispose of large household items which are not normally collected by refuse collectors e.g. furniture and large electrical equipment. We don’t offer a collection service. You can contact your local authority directly who will collect some large items or visit www.essex.gov.uk/waste-recycling to find out how to arrange this.

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Home safety

Your safety is important to us. You can find information below, or in your online account, about fire, gas, asbestos, electric, water hygiene and lift safety in the home. Where our safety inspections and servicing are required, it’s essential that you allow us access to complete these to help keep you safe.

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Fire

It’s vital that you have a working smoke alarm on every level of your home to give you an early warning if a fire breaks out. You’re four times more likely to die in a fire if you don't have a working smoke alarm.

Faulty home appliances or their misuse can often be the cause of fires in the home. You can use Register my appliance to be notified of an issue or product recall with a new appliance you buy. Or you can check your products with Electrical Safety First’s product checker.

We recommend that appliances are not left on overnight, or when you leave the house, unless they’re specifically designed to do so (such as fridges and freezers).

Please read our Fire Safety leaflet [pdf] for information on what to do, what to check, and what to avoid to help reduce the risk of fire in your home.

You must comply with the following regulations and co-operate with us to help maintain fire safety - you may be in breach of your tenancy or lease agreement if you don’t.

  • Keep escape routes clear at all times.
  • Don’t prop open fire doors.
  • Always report defects and dangerous occurrences.
  • Don’t make structural alterations without consent.
     

Gas

A faulty gas or solid fuel appliance can produce carbon monoxide, which is hazardous to you and your family’s health and may even be fatal. It’s known as the silent killer because you can’t see it, hear it, smell it, or taste it.

Carbon monoxide poisoning isn’t the only threat from faulty appliances and pipework. Gas leaks can also occur, which can lead to fires or explosions in your home. This is not only a risk to you and your family, but any neighbours and visitors too.

A poorly maintained appliance can also be wasteful, resulting in higher energy bills and unnecessary damage to the environment.

If you rent your home from us, we’re legally required to service all gas heating and hot water systems in your home every year. We also carry out a safety check on oil, renewable and solid fuel appliances.

If you have a gas leak and you think you can smell gas:

  • leave the house and call National Gas Emergencies straight away on 0800 111 999 or 0800 371 7878 (for deaf or hearing impaired);
  • if you’re at home and can do it safely, turn off the gas at the mains tap, which is usually near the meter;
  • do not smoke, use matches or lighters.

For information on gas safety and our annual checks, please sign in to your online account . That’s also where you can let us know if you think there’s a problem with your boiler or another gas appliance.

If you own all, or part, of your home you’re responsible for arranging servicing for gas heating and hot water systems every year.

Read our Gas and Heating Systems Safety Policy [pdf].

Asbestos

Asbestos is a natural mineral found in rocks all over the world. Due to its heat and water resistance, it was commonly used in the home.

Asbestos is not usually a problem if left undisturbed. However, if asbestos is disturbed or damaged it can be a serious risk to your health.

For information on where asbestos can be found in the home, when it might be a problem, associated health risks and how we manage its removal, read our Asbestos leaflet [pdf]. If you’re worried about asbestos in your home, please contact us.

Read our Asbestos Policy [pdf].

Electric

Many accidents in the home are related to electrical maintenance or DIY activities. The major dangers are shocks, burns and fire. For more information visit Electrical Safety First.

If you rent a home from us, we have a responsibility to ensure that the electrics in your home are safe. We’ll arrange for a qualified electrician to visit your home to test and inspect the wiring every five years. Our approved contractor will contact you to make an appointment.

If you have an electrical fault, you can report it to us by signing up or signing in to your online account.

If you own all, or part, of your home you’re responsible for the electrics. 

Read our Electrical Safety Policy [pdf].

Water hygiene

Some of our homes have communal water tanks in roof spaces which supply several properties. It's crucial that we’re allowed access to inspect and maintain these, not just for your health and safety but also for the health and safety of others. When water is stagnant and reaches unacceptable temperatures, bacteria can grow which can lead to Legionella.

Whatever type of property you live in, it’s important that you maintain your own appliances and water outlets, for example, taps, shower heads and outside water taps. After any period of your water system not being used (for example after a holiday period) you should flush the system. Open taps and turn on the shower (lay the shower head in the bath to avoid water droplets in the air) and let the water flow through for a short period of time. It’s particularly important to do this with showers before you use them. Shower heads and taps should also be cleaned regularly and limescale removed.

If you have any concerns regarding water hygiene safety, please contact us.

Read our Water Hygeine Legionella Policy [pdf].

Lifts

Stairlifts and through the floor lifts all need regular servicing and additional thorough examination by specialists for insurance. Fatal accidents have occurred using these types of equipment and therefore it’s crucial that these are maintained. You can find out more information about lift safety inspections and maintenance in our Lift safety and servicing [pdf].