Welcome to your new home
Welcome to your new home and now that you have moved into your property, we would like to tell you a little about our service.
Our aim is to provide you with a first class management service and subsequently we have a handbook to make you aware of the full range of services available to you as a tenant.
It contains useful information about how to access such services and clearly sets out your rights and responsibilities as a tenant. As part of the handbook we also aim to give guidance on the standard of service you can expect from our team.
We have tried to include as much information as possible, however, if you do not find what you are looking for, then please don’t hesitate to contact us on: 01244 316 338
All tenants are issued with a copy of the ‘Tenant Handbook’ at the beginning of their tenancy, which is updated regularly and can change over time. If you have lost your copy, or require the latest version then please contact us.
The Homesale and Homelet Team
How to contact us?
Contact number: 01244 316338
By post or visit:
18 Grosvenor Street
Or email us on: email@example.com
You can also contact us via our website: www.homeletofchester.co.uk
Customer Service Standards
One of Homesale and Homelet’s priorities is to provide a customer focused service. To help us do this we have developed a set of customer service standards which shows the level of service you can expect from us:
- Treat customers with courtesy and respect at all times
- Find out about a customers’ needs and meet them where possible
- Help customers, who need extra support, to explain their needs
- Give customers information about services including what they can expect and when
- Listen to customers’ comments, suggestions and views
- All letters will be clear and easy to understand
- Letters will be replied to within 5 working days. If this is not possible, an acknowledgement will be sent within 2 working days, providing a timescale for a full reply. We will send a further letter explaining if this timescale subsequently slips
- All emails will be clear and easy to read
- We will give you alternative contact details in response to emails when the recipient is going out of the office for more than one working day
- Emails will be replied to within 24 hours
- Telephone messages will be responded to within one working day
When is your rent due?
Your rent is due as per the terms of your tenancy agreement – a copy which is given to you at the start. If you have any doubts about when your rent is due or have any questions, please call our office. It is essential that your rent is paid on time, because late payment of rent incurs a charge of £30.00. If your rental account falls into arrears, you are in breach of your tenancy agreement and you could lose your home.
Can your rent change?
The amount of rent you pay is reviewed annually and will be assessed in your annual inspection, where a member of our team will discuss this with you at your property. We will give you one clear months’ notice of any rent changes.
How to pay your rent?
You must pay your rent via standing order with the bank details contained in your tenancy agreement. We would be happy to set this up for you, therefore please ask a member of our team for further information on this subject.
What should you do if you have rent arrears?
If you have arrears on your rent account you can take one of the following steps:
- Where possible make a one-off payment to clear your arrears in full
- Agree a repayment plan to clear your arrears within a reasonable time scale
- Remember Homelet is there to help you, so please get in contact if you’re experiencing any difficulties. We can usually come up with a reasonable solution.
What happens if you do not clear your rent arrears?
If you don’t pay your rent and fail to get in touch with us, we will make every attempt to contact you and help with any difficulties that might be stopping you from making a payment. However, if you do not work with us to help reduce your arrears, we will serve you a Notice of Seeking Possession. This is the first stage in proceedings, which may result in you losing your home.
We will continue to try and help, but if you do not pay your rent, or if you continually fail to keep to a repayment plan to clear any arrears, you may end up being evicted from your home. If it does become necessary to refer your case to court, you will be responsible for paying all court costs. These can amount to several hundred pounds.
What happens if I withhold rent due to disrepair?
You do not have the right to withhold/stop paying rent because of a landlord’s failure to do repairs, if you do, then a ‘Notice to Seek Possession’ can be served against you.
Repairs and improvements
Maintenance service levels:
We use outside contractors for our reactive maintenance. To be an approved contractor for maintenance work, we check the contractors:
- Public liability is valid
- VAT registration (where applicable)
- Relevant professional qualifications
Some of the properties we manage require permission from the landlord before any work can be done. If this is the case, then this can lead to a delay in the work getting booked in and during this time we ask for patience from our tenants. Once authorisation has been given, either a member of our team or the contractor will contact you as soon as possible.
Living in your new home
If your property has a gas installation and/or appliances that are integrated, then in accordance with Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations, the Gas Safety record must be renewed annually. We always ensure that all of our properties are annually checked and you as the tenant will be given a copy of the renewal to prove it has been carried out. When the time for a renewal comes, someone from our office be in contact with you to arrange it.
You must allow our contractors access to your home to carry out this work. It is a condition of your agreement and if you refuse, the contractor is entitled to enter your property giving 24 hours’ notice.
What do you do if you lock yourself out?
We have a copy of the keys to your property and Homelet do have a 24/7 call out service, so if you do find yourself locked out, then we can help you gain access, but this will be at a charge of £10.00. Alternatively, you can collect the spare key from our office (Mon – Fri 9am – 5:30pm or Sat 9am-4pm). If you do require a new key to be cut or a lock change then it would be your responsibility as the tenant to pay for this and keys must be provided to the agency or your landlord as appropriate.
The conditions of your tenancy make it clear that it is your responsibility to look after your garden and trees. Gardens must be kept tidy and free from rubbish. You must ask our permission to remove fences, hedges or trees. Please call our maintenance department if you are thinking of doing this. Trees and hedges should not obstruct public footpaths or interfere with a neighbour’s property and fencing.
If you want to put up a shed or outbuildings in your garden, you must get our written permission beforehand. Please call our office if you are thinking of doing this.
What improvements can you make?
We are happy for you to improve your home, but you must put in writing what improvements you wish to make and ensure you get authorisation back from us before doing them. If you have any questions regarding this then please call our office.
Taking care of your property
You are responsible for keeping the inside of your home in good and clean condition. Examples of repairs you are responsible for include the following:
- Maintaining your own appliances
- Filling in small cracks in plaster
- Replacing broken windows (if damaged by you).
- Replacement of a bath panel or toilet seat if it breaks, unless stated on the inventory that there’s a problem with it when you moved into the property
- Internal doors, locks and handles, cupboard doors and catches
- Wall, floor and fireplace tiles (if damaged by you)
- Keeping laminate floor dry to prevent excessive wear and tear
- Cleaning of carpets
- Preventing your kitchen and bathroom pipework from becoming blocked. Do not pour grease into sinks or put nappies or wipes down the toilet. (If a tradesman has to come out to unblock pipes or drains as a result of your actions, you will be charged for this)
- Cleaning external windows and frames and other minor repairs to your home, such as replacing light bulbs and fitting a plug or chain on a sink
If you share facilities outside your home with other people (for example, a staircase, landing or driveway) then you also share the responsibility for keeping these shared areas clean, tidy and free from obstructions.
Please make sure you put all rubbish in the appropriate wheelie bin and leave it out for collection on the appropriate day. Where possible, you should put rubbish suitable for recycling in the appropriate bin/recycling box where provided to be collected. Your local council can collect large items of furniture and other appliances, however, you would need to arrange this with the council and please bear in mind that you will be charged by the council for bulky items.
Unauthorised alterations or DIY- You must have written permission from Homelet before starting any alterations or improvements to your home. If Homelet has to do any work because of the alterations you have done, the cost will be recharged to you.
Moving out- When you end your tenancy, we will explain your responsibilities and what you must do to avoid any charges being made to your deposit. This includes handing back all keys to the property on the agreed date, leaving the property clear of all goods, belongings and rubbish and making sure the property is clean and in an acceptable state of repair.
Emergency repairs- If emergency repairs are needed due to deliberate damage, vandalism, neglect, botched DIY etc. by any members of your household (including pets) or visitors to your home, then Homelet will carry out the repair and recharge you.
Gas and electricity suppliers
Before you move in Homelet will already have taken meter readings and informed the current suppliers of your tenancy. However, it is your responsibility to set up your method of payment with the current supplier. You are entitled to change supplier at any time throughout your tenancy, but please inform us. It is also the tenants’ responsibility to take meter readings and inform suppliers when the tenancy at the property has ended.
You must not keep any animals, reptiles, insects or other such pets on the premises without permission from Homelet. The introduction of pets without consent is considered as a direct breach of a tenant(s) obligation, which could result in notice being served on a tenant(s). You may be required to put down a higher deposit if we do give authorisation for a pet to live within the premises.
To get authorisation for a new pet, or if you have any questions regarding this matter then please contact our office.
Business and trade
Your tenancy agreement makes it clear that you must not run a trade or business from your home
We expect you to behave in a way that will not annoy your neighbours or interfere with the peace or comfort of other people. We expect you, your family, friends and visitors to respect your home and surrounding areas, behave in a responsible manner and not to cause nuisance or annoyance to your neighbours.
Examples of nuisance include:
- Loud music, television or other noise
- Shouting and slamming doors
- Dogs barking and fouling
- Offensive drunkenness
- Selling drugs, drug or solvent abuse
- Having bonfires frequently
- Carrying out noisy repairs to your home late in the evening
If you are experiencing neighbour nuisance and you cannot solve the problem by talking with your neighbour, we may be able to assist you.
There are many forms of anti-social behaviour which include:
- Abuse or insulting words
- Intimidation/ Assault
- Noise nuisance
- Using and/or selling drugs
- Alcohol and/or solvent abuse
- Dumped rubbish
You (or anyone living with you, or visiting your home) must not harass any other person. Harass means deliberate interference with the peace, comfort or safety of any person. Examples of harassment:
- Insulting or abusive behaviour or language referring to someone’s race, sex, disability, religion, sexuality or age
- Using or threatening to use violence
- Using abusive or insulting words or behaviour
- Damaging or threatening to damage someone else’s home or possessions
- Graffiti of any kind
- Offensive drunkenness
- Selling drugs, drug abuse or solvent abuse
- Having a bonfire frequently
- Dumping rubbish
- Playing ball games close to someone else’s home
If any nuisance, anti-social behaviour or harassment occurs out of the examples given, you would be in breach of your tenancy agreement and you could lose your home.
- You must not play musical instruments or any form of audio media in a way that will cause nuisance, annoy neighbours or be heard outside the property between 11:00pm and 7:30am
- You must not carry out noisy repairs to your home before 8am and after 9pm
You may only park on a properly built driveway, or in a designated parking space.
Repairing vehicles outside your home
We do not mind you carrying out repairs to vehicles outside your home occasionally, as long as you’re repairing your own vehicle or a vehicle that belongs to someone who lives in your home. However, you should not be carrying out these repairs for profit. Please make sure that you carry out all work at reasonable times of the day (as stated in the noise section above) and you do not cause noise, smells, fumes, oil spillages or dirt which may disturb your neighbours. You must not carry out repairs on vehicles over a long period.
You are not allowed to park a caravan on your property or outside of it, unless given permission by Homelet
Using your home
You must use the property as your main home and let us know if there are any changes as to how you use the property. For example, if you are going away from your home for a long time or if new people move in.
Please inform our office if you’re going away for a lengthy period of time.
You must not rent part of your home to someone else, as this is a direct breach of your tenancy agreement.
You must not allow extra people to move into your home, without getting permission. Please call our office regarding any additional people who you would like to live in your home
Keep your home free from damp, condensation and mould
Types of dampness – There are four main types of dampness that could affect your home. It is important to understand the difference between them so that you can effectively treat the problem.
Rising damp is caused by ground water moving up through a wall. Most walls allow some water in, but it’s usually stopped from causing damage by a barrier called a damp-proof course. This is usually a horizontal plastic or slate strip in the wall.
If this is missing or ineffectual, the property may suffer from rising damp. This type of damp can also happen when the level of the ground outside your home is higher than your damp-proof course, allowing water to get above it.
Symptoms of rising damp
If you have rising damp, you may notice damaged skirting boards and floorboards, crumbling or salt stained plaster and peeling paint and wallpaper. There may also be a tide mark along the wall.
Penetrating damp is caused by water leaking through walls. This type of damp may move around within a building, but this is through horizontal movement rather than by travelling up walls (as is the case with rising damp). Penetrating damp is usually caused by structural problems in a building, such as faulty guttering or roofing.
Symptoms of penetrating damp
Penetrating damp often shows up through damp patches on walls, ceilings or floors, which may darken when it rains. You’re more likely to get penetrating damp if you live in an older building with solid walls, as cavity walls provide some protection.
Leaks from water and waste pipes, especially in bathrooms and kitchens, are relatively common and affect both external and internal walls and ceilings. The affected area looks and feels damp to the eye and remains damp whatever the weather conditions outside. A quick examination of the water pipes serving the kitchen and bathroom and the seals around the bath, shower and sinks; plus, the pipework, such as guttering, will usually help you find the source of the problem.
Condensation is the most common kind of damp. It is caused by moist air condensing on walls and is mainly a winter problem, as at this time of year walls are much colder than the air inside.
Condensation can be exacerbated by poor ventilation and heating that comes on and off, as this allows warm, damp air to condense.
Damage caused by condensation- Condensation is probably the biggest cause of damp in rented properties. If you are having condensation problems in your rented property, please call our office for advice on how to minimise it. If condensation causes damage to your property this could be a rechargeable repair.
Most homes will be affected by condensation at some point. However, certain activities can increase the problem. Condensation and mould growth is often due to habits and lifestyle and is something that can be reduced or remedied by the occupant.
Cooking, washing and drying clothes indoors – all produce water vapour that can be tiny drops of water (condensation) which appear on colder surfaces such as walls, windows and ceilings.
The amount of condensation in a home depends upon three factors:
- How much water vapour is produced by the actions of its residents.
- How cold or warm the property is.
- How much air circulation (ventilation) there is.
Simply turning up the heating will not sort out the problem, this may only temporarily reduce condensation. All three factors may need to be looked at to reduce the problem.
The first sign of a problem is water vapour condensation on windows and other cold surfaces, which takes a long time to disappear, allowing surfaces to become damp. The second indication is black patches growing on these damp areas.
Mould spores are invisible to the human eye and are always present in the atmosphere. They only become noticeable when they land on a surface upon which they can inhabit and then multiply.
For mould to thrive and survive it requires four elements:
- Moisture – Obtained from condensation.
- Food – Such as wallpaper or emulsion paint.
- Suitable temperature – Courtesy of the householder.
By dealing with the causes of condensation you will automatically deal with the problem of mould.
Five steps to reducing condensation and black mould growth
A five-step plan can help to reduce the amount of condensation and the growth of black mould in your rental property:
- Produce less moisture
- a) Dry clothes outdoors. Avoid drying clothes indoors or if you have to, dry them in the bathroom with the door closed and either an extractor fan on or a window slightly open.
- b) Vent tumble driers to the outside (never into the home) or buy a condensing type.
- c) Cover pans when cooking and do not leave kettles boiling.
- d) Do not use paraffin or liquid petroleum (bottled) gas heaters. They produce large amounts of vapour and are very expensive to run.
- Remove excess moisture. Always wipe the windows and window sills of your home every morning to remove condensation. It is especially important in the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen – just opening the window is not enough. Ventilate to remove moisture
It is important to remove condensation and excess moisture by ventilating rooms. You can ventilate without making draughts or causing it to become cold. To do this, you may only need to open the vent slightly or use the trickle vent that can often be found on new UPVC windows. This allows warm air to escape to the outside and let in cool (but dry) air,
- a) Always ventilate or open a window when using the kitchen or the bathroom and close the door to prevent moisture in the air from spreading to other parts of the house. Continue to ventilate rooms for a short time after a shower, a bath or cooking, and keep the door closed.
- b) Open bedroom windows for up to one hour as soon as you wake up and throw back the sheets/duvets to air the bed and bedding.
- c) Clear window sills of clutter that will restrict opening the window.
- d) Leave space between the back of furniture and cold walls.
- e) Ventilate cupboards, wardrobes and avoid overfilling them as this prevents air circulating.
- Heat your home a little more. In cold weather, the best way to keep rooms warm and avoid condensation is to keep low background heat on all day rather than short bursts of high heat when you are in the house.
Dealing with black mould
Black mould can grow on walls, ceilings, furnishings and even on clothes and toys, which can be depressing and expensive.
How to treat areas affected by black mould:
- a) Carefully remove excess mould with a damp cloth and throw away after. Or if possible use a vacuum cleaner and empty after. Do not brush mould as this releases spores into the air.
- b) Wipe down affected areas using a fungicidal wash or diluted bleach- remember always use gloves and wear safety glasses.
- c) Tea Tree oil is a natural antiseptic and disinfectant, but it’s also great for cleaning, especially mould or mildew. Try a dilute of three to four drops of Tea Tree oil in two litres of water. Spray onto troubled spots using a plant mister, wipe, rinse off. Always ensure you carry out a test on a small area of the fabric/material/surface before using.
If none of these methods work and the mould is worsening then please contact our office and we’ll send a contractor round, as it may be an issue that has to be treated professionally.
Remember dealing with condensation is not easy. Only carrying out one or two of the above steps solve your problem. You need to do as many as possible every day, so that it becomes part of you and lifestyle.
Warmth versus ventilation
Striking the right balance between warmth and ventilation is important and can be very effective. By opening windows or ventilating your home, it may appear that you are losing heat, but what you are doing is allowing warm moisture-laden air to escape and permitting cool dry air to enter your home. Cool air is actually cheaper to heat than warm moist air!
Many people who have double-glazing installed experience problems with condensation and mould that they never had with their old draughty window frames. This is because all the natural draughts the poorly fitted windows have been sealed. However, by using trickle vents or opening windows, the necessary ventilation can be achieved.
Remember- The advice is to ventilate for an appropriate period of time, not to leave the windows open all day.
Still getting mould in your bathroom even if you have an extractor fan?
If your bathroom has an extractor fan built in and you are still getting mould/condensation marks on your bathroom ceilings and walls, you need to make sure that your extractor fan is clear from fluff, dust and debris. Otherwise it will not function correctly. Get an old tooth brush or cotton bud and wipe between the vents, which will make the air flow better and help reduce condensation in this area.
The right to live peacefully in your home
We will ask for your permission before we enter your home. However, we have the legal right to enter a home at reasonable times of the day. We will do this to carry out repairs which we are legally responsible for and to inspect the condition your property. We will give you 24 hours’ notice, in writing, before we inspect your property. We also have the right to show prospective tenant(s) around your property once you’ve given notice. Again 24 hours’ notice will be given for this.
Homelet carry out inspections of your home as part of the requirements of our agreement with your landlord. This involves confirming your gas check is up to date to ensure your gas appliances are safe, ensuring the property has been fitted with smoke alarms or perform an inspection to confirm they are working, performing an inspection to ensure the property is well kept (cleanliness and tidy) and to discuss your annual rent review if applicable. You will receive a letter in the post or an email confirming this appointment.
Please note that if a property fails an inspection on cleanliness or damage, then a further inspection will take place to confirm the property has been brought back up to standard.
If the property is below the standard expected on this second inspection, professional cleaners could be brought in meaning the tenant(s) and/or the guarantor will be liable for this cost. Similarly, if tenant(s) have caused damage to the property then it will be fixed/ replaced at the expense of the tenant(s) and/or guarantor.
Insuring your homes contents
We strongly advise all tenant(s) to take out household contents insurance, as we do not insure your belongings or decorations. If you want a competitive quote from Homelet (the national insurance company, unconnected to us), please visit our website or click: http://homeletuk.com/cgi-bin/alpha.cgi?agentschemeno=1402850
Reasons for us needing to end your tenancy
Your tenancy can be ended in at least one of the following ways
- If you break any conditions of the tenancy agreement we will always try to sort out matters before taking legal action, but if you continue to break the terms of your tenancy agreement, we may have no option but to take possession of the property
- If you abandon your home or live permanently at another address
- The landlord may end the tenancy by giving not less than two months’ notice in writing, after the full term of the initial tenancy agreement
- There is legal ground for possession under the Housing Act 1985, the Housing Act 1996 or other law
- We are granted a county court order to evict you
Examples of when we may try to evict you
- You have broken one or more of the tenancy conditions
- If you continuously fail to pay your rent and are unable to make the arrears
- If you or anyone living in your property causes a serious nuisance
- If you or anyone living with you has been convicted of using your home for illegal purposes
- You seriously neglect or damage your property or shared area
- You got your tenancy because you deliberately gave us false information
Giving your notice
If you want to give notice and move out of the property as per your tenancy agreement the following applies:
- If the tenant(s) intends to terminate the tenancy on the expiry of the fixed term, notice must be received in writing at least 1 month before the tenancy end date and must be given in line with the rent due date
- The same applies for when the tenancy continues as a periodic tenancy after the expiry of the initial fixed term.
If you are still not sure about how much notice you must give, please contact our office.
Where is your deposit?
Since the 6th April 2007, by law all deposits have been taken from a tenant(s) on an assured short hold tenancy agreement and lodged with a tenancy deposit protection scheme. Your deposit has been lodged with the Tenancy Deposit scheme (TDS) (unless notified otherwise)
We always try to get things right first time, but please appreciate that this doesn’t always happen. If for some reason you are not satisfied with our first response, then please let us know and we’ll do our best to rectify any issue.
When we get it right
We would also like to know if you are pleased with us. Our team take pride in their work, so it’s good to hear when we’ve got it right. This also helps us to find out which parts of our service we do well.
We offer a referral scheme for any successful recommendation to bring a property to market for Sale or to Let. Please call the Team on 01244 313900 to discuss the current incentives being offered.
Cheshire West & Cheshire council: 0300 123 8123
Council Tax: 0300 123 7022
Dee Valley Water: 01978 846 946
TV Licence: 0870 8501 202
Citizens advice Bureau: 08444 111 444 0
Police (Emergency): 999
Police (non-emergency): 111