Looking after your home

This section provides you with advice about how to look after your home. You are responsible for maintaining the inside of your home and carrying out minor repairs, such as changing light bulbs and unblocking slow draining sinks, baths and showers. To help with this we have created a series of How to videos.

How to videos


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 mould

If you’ve got mould in your home or think you have an issue with damp, we’re here to help. Please contact us as soon as possible so we can assess the problem and arrange suitable repairs quickly. We have a dedicated email address you can use - reportdampandmould@chp.org.uk.

Mould is caused by moisture in buildings. This can be because of leaking pipes, rising damp in ground level floors, or rain seeping in from damage to a roof or window frames. The other main cause of moisture and mould is condensation from everyday activities such as cooking, washing, drying clothes and bathing. There are things you can do to help reduce the risks from condensation building up in your home so please check out our guide to damp and mould.

The main risk from mould is that it can lead to respiratory problems or infections, and it can potentially make allergies or asthma much worse. Children, the elderly and people with skin or respiratory conditions are therefore most at risk from the effects of mould. They can be impacted even by small amounts if it's not dealt with correctly.

So please don’t leave any mould unattended. Our guide to damp and mould explains the different types of mould and what to do if you have them. Please also let us know as soon as possible so we can see how we can help.  

For more information about our approach to preventing, treating, and managing damp, mould, and condensation in our homes read our Damp Mould and Condensation Policy.

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 [pdf] 1MB 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 are responsible for insuring the contents of your home. We don’t cover your contents as part of your tenancy agreement.

Contents insurance is designed to help protect your possessions. No matter how careful you are, there’s always a risk that your belongings could be broken, damaged, or stolen. Contents insurance can help provide peace of mind should something happen to them.

We work with Thistle Tenant Risks who provide the My Home Contents Insurance Scheme designed for tenants living in social housing. Leaseholders are also eligible to apply.

The scheme can offer you insurance for home contents including furniture, carpets, curtains, clothes, bedding, electrical items, jewellery, pictures, and ornaments. Take a look at the rate card to see how much you might pay depending on the value of your home contents and how you pay.

You can find out more information or request a call back by visiting My Home Contents Insurance or by calling Thistle Tenant Risks on 0345 450 7288. You can work out the value of your home contents using their handy online calculator.

You can also find out more information about the scheme by signing in to your online account or requesting an application pack by contacting us.

You can also request a call back from a member of the My Home Contents Insurance team. 

Buildings insurance

It’s our responsibility to arrange buildings insurance which covers damage to the structure of the building. Your service charges cover the cost of the insurance. You can’t opt-out or arrange cover with another insurer. If you're a shared owner or leaseholder and need to make a claim, you must contact the insurance company directly. You can find a summary of the cover below.

Buildings Insurance summary of cover 2023-24 (LGAH) [pdf]

Buildings insurance summary of cover (leaseholder/shared owner) 2023 [pdf]

Subsidence and heave

Subsidence and heave are types of ground movement that can impact the structure of your home. We’ve produced a guide to how we manage subsidence and ground heave. It explains more about what subsidence and heave are, the signs to look out for, and how they can affect your property. The guide also includes information about how we manage building insurance claims on your behalf if we find evidence of subsidence and heave. 

If you think subsidence or ground heave may be affecting your home, please contact us as soon as possible and we’ll arrange for one of our surveyors to take a look.

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.

Preparing for a power cut

Power cuts in the home happen from time to time and often they’re due to circumstances beyond our control. In the event of a planned power cut, your energy provider will usually give you several days’ notice. You can also check your provider’s website for planned power cuts. If you don’t know who your provider is, you can find out by calling 105 or visiting Power cut 105.

Sometimes power cuts are unplanned, for example due to demand overload caused by bad weather or equipment failure. Either way, it’s good to be prepared, particularly if there’s someone in the household with additional needs.

Here are ten tips to help you prepare for a power cut.

  1. Keep a torch, extra batteries, and a portable radio handy.
  2. Have a mobile phone or other device accessible to communicate or access information.
  3. Keep a list of emergency phone numbers, including your local power company.
  4. If you rely on mains powered medical equipment you probably already have a backup plan in place. Test the backup generator or battery and check if you can get to a location with power.
  5. If you use a stairlift, check that it has a manual handle to help you get safely down the stairs in a power cut. Most will also have a battery backup.
  6. Store enough non-perishable food and fresh water to last for a few hours.
  7. Look up how to reset devices and appliances after power cuts e.g., some cookers won’t work until the clock has been set.
  8. Know where your consumer unit trip switches or fuse board are. Trip switches should be in the up position for ‘on’.
  9. Add elderly or vulnerable residents to your supplier’s Priority Service Register.
  10. Check whether you can take part in energy saving events run by your supplier. These can save you money and, if enough households take part, they can reduce the likelihood and extent of power outages.

For more tips you can read our guide to preparing for a power cut. This provides advice on what to do and what not to do during a power cut, as well as what to do if a trip switch has gone off and you think it’s because of a faulty appliance.


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.

We want to improve fire and gas safety in all our properties. We’re currently carrying out a project to make sure there are in-date smoke detectors on every floor, and in-date carbon monoxide detectors in every room with a combustion appliance. Our in-house team and heating contractor are working together to install and collect information on these. Please help us by keeping appointments and contacting us to re-arrange appointments if you’re unable to keep them.

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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).

We’ve partnered with Essex County Fire and Rescue Service who’ve produced an online home fire safety check. This is a tool you can use to help spot fire risks around your home and will enable a home safety visit to be booked with the fire service if risks are identified.

You can also read our guide to fire safety leaflet. This provides you with information on what to do, what to check, and what to avoid to help reduce the risk of fire in your home. If you live in a communal building please choose the leaflet below that describes your building as this contains specific guidance for where you live.

A guide to fire safety – Buildings 18m+ or over seven storeys high.

A guide to fire safety - General purpose blocks (11-18m or five to six storeys high)

A guide to fire safety - General purpose blocks (less than 11m high)

A guide to fire safety - Sheltered housing

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.

Read our Fire Safety Policy[pdf] 264KB.


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] 227KB.


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] 586KB. If you’re worried about asbestos in your home, please contact us.

Read our Asbestos Policy[pdf] 202KB.


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] 201KB.

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] 220KB.


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 A guide to lift safety and servicing in your home[pdf] 754KB.