safety in your home

As your landlord, we're committed to providing a safe environment for you to live in.

There is nothing more important than the safety of you and your family

Here at believe housing, we are committed to providing a safe environment for our tenants to live. However, sometimes we may need your help to provide safety in your home.

As highlighted in our tenancy agreements, tenants have a responsibility to report any repairs, hazards, or defects in their home. Such hazards or defects could result in accidents involving you, your family, or visitors to your home.

Section 20 of your tenancy agreement highlights requirements in relation to maintaining safety in your home and not introducing any hazards that could be a danger to you or your family.

Examples of hazards or defects

  • loose plug sockets or light switches
  • damage to walls and ceilings
  • leaks
  • loose fireplace mantels
  • insecure floorboards
  • loose or missing stair handrails
  • damaged or loose stair treads
  • gas or electrical faults
  • deteriorated tarmac or concrete paths
  • cracks on footpaths exposing a trip hazard
  • defects on steps
  • loose handrails
  • damaged or missing manhole covers
  • insecure drain pipes or roof slates
  • damaged walls and damaged fencing

minimise the risks around your home:

Asbestos is a natural fibrous rock that was widely used within homes and other buildings until 1999.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is very strong and resistant to heat and chemicals. Over the years it has been used in a wide range of building materials and products, meaning that the vast majority of buildings, including homes, will contain asbestos in some form, but that does not mean they are dangerous if looked after properly.

Asbestos, when not disturbed, isn’t dangerous. It only becomes dangerous if materials containing asbestos are damaged or deteriorate with age. When damaged, asbestos releases tiny fibres into the air and breathing in high levels of these fibres may cause damage to your health.

It is not always easy to tell whether a product in your home contains asbestos as many modern asbestos free materials often look similar. It is
usually older products that contain asbestos.

Where could asbestos be found in the home:

  • insulation panels
  • vinyl or thermoplastic floor tiles
  • some textured coating
  • rainwater pipes and gutters
  • some ceiling tiles
  • outhouses, sheds and garages
  • eaves/soffits
  • flue pipes

believe housing is committed to making sure that all materials containing asbestos in our properties are safe.

Full surveys are carried out before refurbishment works are undertaken in your home and records are kept of where any asbestos is identified.

Asbestos materials can become a risk if they are damaged, drilled, cut, sawn, scrubbed or sanded during DIY work and can result in exposure to asbestos fibres.

It is important that you contact believe housing before undertaking any DIY work that could potentially disturb asbestos containing materials in the home.

If we discover asbestos, we will decide what needs to be done to make it safe.

Please note:

  • All asbestos work should be carried out by a trained and competent person
  • You need permission from us before carrying out any work that may disturb asbestos
  • Never place asbestos waste in your bins – by law it must be disposed of by a licensed waste carrier.

No heating or hot water?

There are many reasons heating or hot water may go off in a property. Here are some of the things to look out for:

has your gas supply been interrupted?

  • check that your gas appliances such as your fire, boiler and cooker are working correctly – if these appliances appear to have stopped working, your gas supply may have been interrupted.
  • check your gas meter – if you have a card/key gas meter and the display shows ‘off’, try resetting it with your card/key. If that doesn’t work then please contact your gas supplier.
  • check the emergency control tap next to the meter – make sure this has not accidentally been turned off. To do this, the 12 o’clock position will turn the tap on and the three o’clock position will turn it off.

do your gas appliances require electricity?

  • check the main switch – make sure this hasn’t been turned off accidentally. The switch is located next to the boiler or programmer.
  • check other electricals – see if anything else electrical in the property has stopped working such as plug sockets or lights.
  • check the fuse/trip box – make sure that this is turned to the ‘on’ position.

are all of your heating controls demanding heat?

  • check that the programmer is in the ‘constant/on’ position.
  • check that the selector controls on the boiler are in the ‘on’ position.
  • check that the room thermostat is turned up or that the AA batteries haven’t run out. Turn the temperature up to 30 degrees and allow some time for the radiators to warm.
  • if the boiler has locked out, this will show a flashing light or ‘F’ fault code on the display unit. If this has happened, press the reset button. This can sometimes help our engineers to diagnose over the phone.
  • check that no hot water is running or dripping and that taps are fully turned off.
  • check that there is sufficient pressure in the system. The pressure gauge on your boiler should read between one and one and a half bar.

While electricity has many benefits, it can also be extremely dangerous and sometimes fatal.

Each year electrical accidents or faults cause around 350,000 serious injuries, 70 deaths, and more than 20,000 house fires.

We carry out electrical inspections in your home at least every five years, but if you become aware of a problem with any
electrical installation, including lights and sockets, it is important that you report it immediately on 0300 1311 999.

If you intend to carry out any electrical work in your home then you must apply for written permission from us first. We would need to know what the work consists of; and that a competent qualified electrician has been appointed by seeing their certification and making sure that they are registered with an official body such as NICEIC or NAPIT. The work would then need to be inspected once complete to ensure it has been done correctly and is safe.

If you have a faulty appliance, it is your responsibility to replace any plug with the same size fuse and get a suitably qualified electrician to check other faults.

If we need to remove or rectify any unauthorised electrical works then any costs to make safe/remove/rectify the issue will be the responsibility of the tenant.

More tips and safety advice

  • Do not overload sockets or extension leads. Most four-plug extension leads have a maximum loading of 13 amps. This equates to two 5-amp plugs and one 3-amp plug in one extension lead. If you exceed the maximum load it will result in the extension lead cable heating up, which could result in fire. Use an extension lead with a residual current circuit breaker or residual current device (RCD), which will isolate the electric power if there is a problem
  • Switch off and unplug non-essential electrics before you go to bed and when you go on holiday. Appliances left on standby can be a fire risk, and waste energy and your money
  • Visually check your electrical appliances and cables regularly. Either repair or replace faulty appliances using a competent qualified electrician. Look out for the danger signs such as scorch marks on plugs or sockets, damaged or frayed cables, flickering lights and fuses that keep blowing for no reason
  • Report any electrical installation defects immediately. Examples include damaged wall sockets or light switches, and damage to installation cabling
  • Do not run extension leads through doorways
  • Fully unwind reel type extension leads before use as the cable will heat up if you don’t.

Your home will receive regular safety checks from believe housing to ensure your safety

there are many steps that you can take to prevent a fire starting.
in the kitchen:
  • Keep your cooker clear
  • Don’t leave the kitchen unattended when cooking
  • Avoid deep frying wherever possible
  • Keep tea towels and cloths away from the hob.
in the living room or bedroom:
  • Keep any candles in a heat resistant holder and never leave them unattended
  • Don’t use portable heaters, unless agreed with your neighbourhood officer
  • If you smoke, make sure to stub out cigarettes thoroughly and dispose of
    them carefully
  • Keep any matches or lighters out of the reach of children
  • Never smoke in bed.
in communal areas:
  • Do not store anything in communal areas including rubbish, bikes, clothes
    and shoes, prams or mobility scooters
  • Keep all storage cupboards locked
  • Never keep flammable items like liquids or gas in storage cupboards.
in flats or buildings with communal areas, fire doors are fitted to prevent the spread of fire. all entry doors to individual flats are also fire resistant.

Access doors to buildings and homes are fitted with self-closing devices designed to contain fire and smoke. Never wedge open a fire door, tamper with a self-closing mechanism or change the door in any way.

in the unlikely event of a fire evacuation:
  • If there is a fire in your home, get out quickly
  • If there is smoke, keep low to the ground
  • If possible close doors behind you to prevent the spread of smoke and fire
  • Get yourself and any other family members to safety
  • Call 999
  • Do not re-enter the building.
if you can’t escape:
  • Get everyone into one room and close the door
  • Smoke and fumes can kill people quickly, so put bedding or towels along the bottom of any doors to seal the gap
  • Open the window and stay near it for fresh air and to let firefighters see you
  • Shout for help so neighbours can offer assistance and call the fire brigade
  • If you are on the ground or first floor, you may be able to escape from a window
  • If you must break the window, cover the jagged glass with towels or thick bedding
  • Throw more bedding out of the window to break your fall
  • Don’t jump out of the window – lower yourself down to arm’s length and
    drop to the ground
  • If you have any children, elderly or disabled people with you, plan the
    order you that will escape in so you can help them down
  • Do not stop or go back in for any reason.

More community fire safety information can be found on the County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service website. 

The in-house gas engineers at believe housing carry out annual checks to every property.

Essential safety checks are to protect yourself, your family and your property and also reduce the need for future repairs and problems that may arise. If you have outstanding essential safety checks that are required in your property such as the annual gas safety check or electrical check then if you report any emergency repairs to us we will arrange to carry out the safety check at the same time. If you report any non-emergency repairs then we’ll arrange to carry out the safety checks before the non-emergency repair appointment.

Tenants need to allow access to their home for gas safety checks when requested. This is part of your tenancy agreement. If you can’t keep an appointment, please call believe housing so that your appointment can be rescheduled.

By law believe housing must ensure that all work on gas appliances or fittings is carried by a qualified engineer with Gas Safe Register accreditation. No DIY work can be carried out on gas appliances or fittings; it is dangerous and illegal. If any extra work on gas appliances is required, you must inform believe housing in advance and use only qualified personnel with Gas Safe Register accreditation.

Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide poisoning can kill or leave you hospitalised. You can’t see it, taste it or smell it, but carbon monoxide can kill within a
matter of hours. The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include tiredness, drowsiness, headache, nausea, pains in the chest and stomach pains.

If you or your family experience these symptoms and believe that carbon monoxide may be involved, you must seek urgent medical help.

There are some simple steps that can be taken in your home to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Never use a gas appliance if you think is it not working properly. Signs to look out for include a yellow or orange flame (except for fuel
    efficient fires which display this colour flame), soot or stains around the appliance and pilot lights which frequently blow out.
  • Do not cover an appliance or block the air vents.
  • Don’t block or obstruct any ventilation grilles or air bricks.
  • Never block or cover any outside flue.
  • Regularly check carbon monoxide alarms.
  • If you smell gas, or suspect a carbon monoxide leak, open all the doors and windows immediately and call the Gas Emergency freephone number 0800 111 999.

Like all landlords, we have specific duties relating to gas appliances, as set out in The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.

However, there are no similar regulations specifically relating to solid fuel appliances.

But we have a duty, under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, to ensure that people not in our employment – our customers – are not exposed to health and safety risks.

We also have a duty to make sure that you are capable of – and are actually carrying out – any ongoing ‘safety critical cleaning’ of your appliance.

Therefore, as with gas appliances, all solid fuel appliances and their connecting chimneys must be regularly maintained.

Safety precautions

We take our commitment to your safety very seriously and insist that all solid fuel appliances and their flues are checked regularly in line with the manufacturer’s instructions and current guidance.

  • We will arrange for a registered worker to service/inspect your solid fuel appliances every six months; chimneys will also be swept and inspected at the same time
  • We will clean the throat plate and all flueways on your boiler as part of the safety check
  • We will install an audible carbon monoxide alarm, complying with BS EN 50291-1:2010 and BS50291-2: 2010, into the room containing the solid fuel appliance
  • You must never block any permanent ventilation grilles that are fitted in your walls or doors
  • You must allow us into your home to carry out the safety checks every six months; it is a health and safety requirement and failure to allow access is a breach of your tenancy agreement. 

Safety critical cleaning

As mentioned above, we have a duty to make sure that you are capable of, and actually carrying out, any ongoing safety critical cleaning of your solid fuel appliance.

Throat plate and flueway cleaning

  • It is critical that the throat plate and all the appliance flueways is kept clean
  • The throat plate should be cleaned at least monthly when burning smokeless fuels
  • The throat plate should be cleaned at least once a week, and more frequently if necessary, when burning other fuels
  • More soot will be deposited on the throat plate, and in the flueways, if the appliance is run at low levels for long periods. If this is the case then more frequent cleaning will be necessary.

Tumble dryers and washing machines contain powerful motors with fast moving parts that get very hot.

Tips and advice:

  • Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions before using your dryer
  • Clean and maintain your machine regularly as excess fluff or lint can build up over time and catch fire
  • Never leave your appliance unattended or running overnight
  • Never overload your washing machine or dryer or put items in that have been used to soak up flammable or combustible liquids, like tea towels
  • Keep your dryer well ventilated, ensuring the vent pipe is kink-free and not blocked or crushed in any way
  • Have your dryer serviced regularly by a qualified engineer
  • Don’t ignore the warning signs:
    • Does your tumble dryer smell of burning?
    • Are your clothes taking longer to dry?
    • Do the clothes feel hotter at the end of the cycle?
    • Does the external vent flap stay shut when the dryer is on?
    • If you notice any of the above, clean the filter and check the vent pipe immediately.

It is important that the water supply in your house is looked after properly.

Homes are considered to be at very low risk of water borne problems such as legionella bacteria. But there are simple steps recommended that can be taken to reduce that risk even further.

Legionella is a bacteria which naturally occurs in water sources such as ponds and lakes. It can also live in the water systems of buildings in certain conditions. If allowed to grow the bacteria can cause illnesses such as Legionnaires’ disease, which is a serious lung infection.
Although anyone can contract Legionnaires’ disease some people are at higher risk. These include people aged over 45, smokers, heavy drinkers and people with underlying health conditions.

The things we do around the home can affect water quality and even encourage bacteria growth.

Simple steps to reduce risk

  • Make sure that taps and showers are regularly cleaned and kept free of debris and scale. Make sure that every water outlet that isn’t used on a weekly basis is opened and flushed through to ensure all the water in the building is kept moving. This includes all taps (including outside taps), showers, and toilets.
  • When returning from extended periods away from the home, make sure that all taps are run for several minutes.
  • If you notice ant debris or discolouration coming through the taps and showers report this to believe housing on 0300 1311 999.

In hot water

  • Don’t reduce your hot water temperature from the pre-set level. Keeping hot water at between 50C and 60C will kill any bacteria
    which may enter the system.
  • If you notice the hot water temperature drop unexpectedly report it to believe housing immediately on 0300 1311 999.

Tap hygiene

  • Legionella bacteria can’t grow in water below 20C, so it is important that your cold-water supply is kept cold.
  • If you have a bidet toilet, switch it off at the wall if you intend to be away from the property for more than one week. This is so warm water is not left in the cistern.
  • If you notice the cold water coming through your taps is warm report it to believe housing on 0300 1311 999.

Other fittings and appliances

  • If you have an outside tap fitted, the installation must comply with the water supply regulations and have a backflow prevention device, usually a double check valve
  • Any appliances you buy that are connected to the water supply must comply with water regulations
  • All domestic appliances, such as washing machines and dishwashers comply to the appropriate standards but many
    commercial appliances do not, and are not suitable for home use.

report a hazard

It is important that if you discover a hazard or a defect either inside or outside your home.

We will then arrange to make safe or repair the hazard or defect as soon as possible.