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Guide to Living

house-mates

How to live harmoniously and comfortably

  • Be a great housematepost-it-rules
  • Operate a dish cloth
  • Don’t upset anyone
  • Operate domestic equipment
  • Be reasonable
  • Change a light bulb
  • Make sure you get your deposit back
  • And much, much more!!

Most problems in shared properties seem to arise from tenants not taking personal responsibility for communal areas—The ‘someone else will do it’ attitude. When people live together disagreements can arise. In this case we would advise calling an informal meeting of ALL house-mates to ensure a smooth running household. Most problems can be sorted out by talking.

Our four main criteria for living together:

  • Don’t be noisy.happy-bubbles-criteria
  • Keep the place clean and tidy.
  • Pay the rent on time,
  • and be respectful of others. Simple!

Fire

fireThe hall, landing and stairs must be kept completely clear of any obstruction, at all times—this is a requirement of the local authority as these areas are the main fire exits. Keep your belongings in your room.

In case of fire – raise the alarm (shout ‘Fire’ as loud you can!) call the fire brigade, 999, from a safe place, do not attempt to extinguish the fire and ensure that doors are closed behind you. Please do not wedge open internal doors that are fitted with automatic closers. They are for your protection in the event of a fire and it is a requirement of the local authority to keep them closed. Don’t put lives at risk.

Our properties are non-smoking, when smoking outside the property, please close the door and step away from it to prevent smoke entering the building. Do not discard  cigarette butts in the garden or on the path etc. 

Gain the respect of your housemates.    

Do not place toasters under kitchen units when in use.

Do not use deep fat fryers at this property.

If you introduce any of your own furniture into the house, ensure that it complies with fire safety regulations. All common sense stuff!

Fire alarm system

The fire alarm system is very sensitive and will be activated by the slightest whiff of smoke! The fire-alarmcontrol panel will display the source of the smoke. A false alarm in which either an engineer or the Fire Brigade are called out, will result in a substantial payment being made by the tenant who caused the event.  

In some properties the fire alarm is checked once a week. If this is a requirement for the property you live in, make sure rooms are available in order that smoke sensors can be checked on this day.  

Kitchen Doordoor-wedge

false-alarmsBe aware that if you decide to wedge open the kitchen door, smoke from cooking food in the kitchen may set off the smoke alarms, to the annoyance of anyone else in the house!

Cleaner

Tenants are expected to maintain the property to a good standard of cleanliness.  It is advisable vacuum-cleanerto draw up a cleaning rota with other housemates. We suggest you do this over a bottle of wine. If you wish to engage a cleaner for the communal arrears, sharing the costs between the house sharers can reduce outlay considerably. If you wish to have your personal space cleaned, this can be arranged at a small charge. This can solve a potential problem building up and it can make life easier, even if it is only cleaned every four weeks.     

 Viewings, Inspections and  Maintenance

inspectorViewings and maintenance will need to be carried out at the property from time to time. Whole house inspections are carried out at three month intervals.  The lead tenant will be informed by text 24 hours in advance. Please report any maintenance issues immediately.

General Maintenance

Your friendly maintenance man is: Paul

Paul is a star, one of the good guys!  

For more general matters relating to the property (not tenant-to-tenant disputes) Or if you are unable to contact Paul please call or text me on 0774 832 7503 between 9am and 7pm. Monday to Friday, or any time in an emergency.  My email address is: steve@westcountryaccommodation.co.uk

Overnight Guests

unwanted-house-guestIt is common courtesy to inform other housemates if you have the occasional overnight guest. How would you feel bumping into a stranger in the middle of the night? Generally the maximum number of overnight stays for guests is two nights. Please inform us if you think housemates are abusing this rule. Make sure guests are advised of the most important house rules. Keep a happy and safe house!

Your Contact Information

contact-infoPlease inform us immediately of any change of email address and mobile number. Failure to do so could result in an embarrassing situation should we have to do a room inspection . . . .

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Security

security-manIt is very important to close all windows and external doors securely when leaving the property unattended. Leave a light on in either the hall or landing when leaving the house unattended for long periods. The energy efficient bulbs cost very little to run.  You may be liable for missing items if you are responsible for leaving the door unlocked!   

Keys

Be careful with your keys – we charge £20 for replacements.key-holder

Electrics and Plumbing

electricsPlease familiarise yourself with the positions of the fuses on the fuse-board, and the stopcock location, in case you need to turn off the water.

Do not undertake any electrical work in the property yourself, or ask anyone not authorized by us to do so. Please do not buy cheap electrical goods, which could cause a fire. We know someone who did this and their house burnt down. The culprit was a cheap phone charger made in China.  If there was a problem with the electrics this could put you in a very precarious situation and potentially could cost you money, aside from any inconvenience incurred. Keep yourself,  your housemates and the property safe.    

Blocked Drains

Take care not to allow excess hair to clog the shower and basin. Also take care what you depositmaintenance-man into the kitchen sink and WC—you may have to pay for call outs, and plumbers are very expensive! Do not put anything in the toilet which is not biodegradable.

Heating

cold-weatherIn very cold weather do not turn off the heating when the property is left empty. Set the timer so that it switches on for two bursts every day, to ensure that pipes do not freeze. Failure to do this may result in tenants being charged for any subsequent damage and repairs, and plumbers are . . .  (see above)

The overall heat of the house can be adjusted with the thermostat. Individual room temperatures can be adjusted with the thermostats on the radiator in your room. There is no need to adjust the boiler.

Monthly Bills

smileyThe gas and electricity are included up to a combined cost of £200 per calendar month for the whole household.  Maintain a balance by setting the heating to come on at specific times during the day.  Just be sensible, don’t leave the heating on all day if no one is there, it will upset someone if you have to share a large bill.

Lighting

lightbulbYou have a responsibility to replace blown light bulbs in communal areas immediately to ensure the safety of all tenants. It is wise to keep a store of light bulbs. There are different types of fixings, the BC or ‘bayonet cap’ energy efficient type is shown. Energy efficient bulbs are more expensive, however they are the best option for longevity and are cheaper in the long run.

IMPORTANT  For your own safety, do not attempt to change light bulbs in high places. Do not use step ladders or a chair.  This is a health and safty issue, so call us to take care of this. A call out to change light bulbs which are considered a safe hight for you to change would incur a call-out fee, the minumium cost for this is £45.

Emergency Numbers

emergency-phoneFor any suspected gas leak contact The Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999 without hesitation

DO NOT CALL IF IT IS NOT A GENUINE EMERGENCY AS THIS CAN BE VERY EXPENSIVE. 

Any other emergencies such as plumbing, electrical, locksmith etc., use your own discretion as to which service you call out, or use the information we have provided.

These numbers are ONLY to be used in the case of an emergency.

If the contractor deems the repair not to be an emergency, YOU will be charged for their call-out fees, except The Gas Emergency Service  where there is no charge.

If you do request an emergency call-out, please inform West Country Accommodation first thing the following morning:

Email: info@westcountryaccommodation.co.uk or  Tel/text: 07748327503

Waste Collection

Check the notice on the pin board for collection dates. Ensure that you return the bin to its recyclingcorrect place ASAP after it has been emptied. Try to get all the refuse inside the bin with the lid closed, otherwise it could attract unwanted animals and insects including rats.

There is also the usual array of recycling containers for plastic, cardboard, food, foil, cans and glass. Please ensure that the food waste is kept clean—be the first to offer to clean it and earn the respect of the other housemates.

Condensation and Damp

We occasionally have complaints about damp or mould. This is usually caused by condensation resulting from the effects of showering, everyday use, plus cooking and sometimes drying dripclothes in the house. The moisture level in the air increases so much that it can’t all escape, causing damp and mould.  Mould comes in many wonderful colours—green, orange, black etc.

Here are a few points to avoid and treat this problem.

  • Cooking – Cover pans when cooking, open a window and use the extractor fan. Make sure the fan is working correctly.
  • Washing clothes – Put clothes outside to dry whenever possible. ( Also makes them smell better) If you do air them in your room, leave a window ajar.
  • Close kitchen and bathroom doors when in use as this stops the moisture reaching other rooms.
  • Ventilate cupboards and wardrobes. Don’t put too much in them as it stops air from dripcirculating.
  • Keep beds a little away from walls to allow air flow.
  • Even your breath produces moisture, so when at home it is a good idea to ventilate a room by leaving a window slightly open.
  • It is also good practice to open windows wide for a few minutes every day to ‘air’ the house and let the moist air out.  Dry air in a house makes it feel warmer, so a better aired house uses heat more efficiently.
  • When showering and bathing, ventilate the room afterwards by opening the window and using extractor fans where provided.
  • In the morning, if there is condensation on the window, wipe it down with kitchen roll or a cloth. This will make you a better person!
  • Don’t keep opened food in the fridge or cupboards past its sell-by date. Either eat it or give it to a housemate to eat.
  • Do not dry clothes on the radiators in the house. This is usually the biggest cause of mould dripproblems. Google ‘Indoor clothes dryer’.

If you start to see the first signs of black mould, it can be cleaned away easily using a bleach/water solution or specific mould spray. Dispose of cloth afterwards to avoid further contamination and please inform us.

  • The first signs could appear around windows, in the silicone sealant around the bath, shower, and sinks. Mould may also form in the washing machine powder drawer.
  • If food is left in the fridge then it will form here too and this can spread.  The longer the mould is left the worse it will get.

As tenants you have a responsibility to keep the property in a good state of repair, and take steps to ensure it does not become a problem. Work together to ensure a nice safe environment. If there is a damp /mould problem when you leave the property you will be charged for the extra cleaning/remedial work involved.

Victorian houses have many advantages, such as space. However due to the building techniques employed by our forefathers, damp can be a bit of an  issue sometimes, particularly in basement areas. Therefore if required we will make sure you have a dehumidifier or two, to take moister splashout of the air if needed. Please use these for your comfort and to help look after the house. They
will simply switch off if not emptied, which may happen often. Be the one to empty it and feel the karma!

Communal Areas

Do not place ANY of your personal belongings in communal areas. Other tenants may be toodishes polite to tell you it bothers them!  Do not overload the cupboards.

If you think an unused item has been ‘hanging around’ the kitchen or bathroom, check with other housemates to discover who actually owns it—if no one claims it, dispose of it. Be power crazy and ruthless!

Generallyangry-bunny

No pets are allowed in this property. Grrrrr!

shhhWe find that a house runs smoother when those who live there show respect for each other, this could be as simple as:

  • Closing doors quietly. Shhhhhhhh
  • Cleaning up communal areas after use, 24 hours max!
  • Not playing music too loud (use earphones?)
  • Not turning TV up too loud (see above)
  • Sharing any jobs or working out a rota (house meeting and bottle of wine highly recommended)
  • Being considerate—your housemates will love you for it!
  • Using your indoor voice whilst indoors.
  • Not whining—housemates will roll their eyes behind your back!smileyhappy-tenant
  • Flip your mattress over at least once a month. This will give you more comfort, allowing you to lie in for longer!

Tips for Keeping the House Looking Its Best

top-tipsHere are some quick and simple cleaning tips to help keep the house and furniture looking its best, follow these to save money and make ensure that your full deposit is returned. According to www.mydeposits.co.uk one of the main stack-of-cashreasons that landlords stop money from a tenant’s deposit is to cover the cost of cleaning, not just your room but your fair share of the house. Respecting the house is a good thing to do. It will make you feel awesome and the landlord can give you a glowing reference.

  • Put rubbish in the bin, do the dishes and clear the worktop.
  • Tenants need to defrost freezers periodically. On occasion we have seen tenants trying to re-create Antarctica. Defrosting will help the freezer to run more economically and you’ll be able to fit more goodies in it.
  • Oven: Place a layer of foil in the bottom of the oven to collect spills. Replace when dirty. Yea it’s a pain, but housemates will see you as their ‘Hero’.
  • Grill pan: Place a layer of foil in the pan so it covers the top edges. This will catch all grease and fat. Replace after use . . . . You Hero!
  • Grills: Once every couple of months, soak these overnight in biological washing powder, they will come up as new! Big R-e-s-p-e-c-t to you.
  • Shower: You can use a shower de-scale spray on the shower screen and shower head and clean-sprayventilate the room, to avoid mould. This will make you very cool!
  • If you spill something then treat immediately to avoid staining. (Always remember this throughout your life!)
  • Beds: Do not remove the mattress protector from your bed. You will be liable for any stains on the mattress. You know it makes sense!
  • Coke is the probably the best cleaner on the market (yes, the drink). It cleans sanitary wear, sinks, taps, cookers and many other things. Minimal elbow grease needed. WC’s—just pour the coke into a toilet and leave it overnight and in the morning –‘ping’!  Ha Ha – imagine what it is doing to your small intestine?! Drink water—it’s free!

splathttp://www.wikihow.com/Clean-a-Toilet-With-Coke

  • If you have failed to open a window and there is black mould on the walls there is no point in painting over the mould because it is a living organism and will quickly come back to haunt you.  The walls need to be cleaned, then neutralised with white wine vinegar to kill the mould and when it is dry a quick coat of emulsion will restore the wall to its former glory. You can do this and your landlord need never know!!
  • A dirty microwave is easily cleaned with a cup of lemon juice mixed with sodiumlemon bicarbonate placed inside and micro-wave for a couple of minutes. The lemon will evaporate and condense onto the metal surfaces melting the grease ready for a quick wipe out. The same mixture can be warmed and used to clean and deodorise a fridge or freezer. Tell your housemates to try it as a scientific experiment.
  •   If by some bizarre occurrence you create a dirty oven, there is a good product called ‘Oven Pride’.  It comes with a bag into which you put your oven trays and pour some of the liquid. ovenprideLeave overnight and in the morning the grease has melted leaving the trays shining like new. The product comes with full instructions—now all you need to do is pour the remaining liquid into the oven and spread it around, within a few hours the oven is clean and ready to wipe out—again, very little elbow grease needed.
  • Wear the gloves – it burns!!

Living Together . . . . (Forced smile)

  • Avoid arguments about the bin by making a rule about it. The first person who finds a fullflip-bin bin puts the bin bag out. Always check if you are running close to the end of the bin liner roll, otherwise its overflow time. Playing ‘Bin Buckaroo’ just isn’t clever or hygienic.
  • For some reason, the fridge is a particular bone of contention. If it drives you milk-cartonmad when other people take your milk then consider labelling it ‘Milk experiment’ or write ‘Urine sample’ on your carton of milk.  No one will touch it. In fact, you might free up a whole fridge shelf in this way…
  • Make a rota. Some (lazy) people find these restrictive and may claim to be illiterate, but it’s a fair system and if you work it out well beforehand, itticklist can really pay off. It’s up to you how you arrange it: you could make sure each person takes responsibility for one room or alternate all the jobs that need to be done. However, it is essential that everyone sticks to the plan, if not = house meeting with much tut’ting, shaking of heads and raised eyebrows…
  • Learn to accept that cleaning jobs won’t always be split fairly, but karmic ‘ally, it all balances out. Life will take revenge on those who don’t play fairly!

yin-and-yang

Neighbours and the local community

Be mindful of your neighbours and the local community. Particularly if you live in a residential area, with families and children. Things to be mindful of:

  • Running up and down stairs late at night or very early in the morning. It is unlikely to result in the neighbours inviting you round for tea.
  • If you are holding the occasional sensibly-sized gathering, particularly if you are using the back garden and there is likely to be some noise, it is wise to give the neighbours as much notice as possible, either verbally or draw up some simple leaflets on your computer and print them out. You are likely to get a much better response and tolerance levels.
  • If a noisy and disruptive gathering/party runs on past 11pm and it is troubling neighbours, they have the right to call the police, which can result in fines, arguments, upsets and other things that nobody really wants.
  • Be sensible, enjoy yourselves, remove anyone who gets out of hand, take it inside after 11pm, keep the music and noise down. Show your neighbours how considerate you are and boom! Happy days! Sure they won’t mind you doing it again. Be smart!

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