MAINTENANCE 101

Including Appliances; Condensation; Drains; Fire Alarms; Furniture; Gardening; Pests; Saniflos.

 

During your tenancy, consider yourself a house-sitter. You are entrusted with a property and must ensure you return it to the owner (G4 Lets and Landlord) in the condition you found it, taking excellent care of its facilities.

 

  1. APPLIANCES:

You will need to make sure that you are caring for the appliances correctly to prevent faults occurring. You are expected to do the following:

 

  • Fridges & freezers:
    • Defrost the appliances regularly. A build-up of ice can mean the door will no longer be able to close fully – this will lower the temperature within the appliance and potentially spoil your food. When defrosting leave a towel on the floor to catch any water.  Also leave the doors open if the appliance is empty and shut off, to avoid a bad smell forming.
    • Make sure the appliances are kept clean as grime and food residue can cause a bad smell and make your food items unhygienic. An easy way to ensure shelves are kept clean is to line them with plastic wrap, which can be changed for a new lining whenever a spillage occurs.
    • Don’t overload the appliances to ensure shelves don’t break. Fridges and freezers tend to be most efficient when they’re full, but do not overload them.

 

  • Dishwashers:
    • Regularly clean the rubber seal of the door and the inside of the dishwasher to ensure your dishes are sparkling clean and hygienic.
    • Ensure that the machine is kept topped up with rinse aid & dishwasher salt. Once per month, set the appliance on an empty, high temperature cycle to have it clean itself and guarantee that your dishes are as clean as can be.
    • Scrape your plates thoroughly before loading them into the dishwasher. Frequently check the drain trap at the bottom of the appliance and clear out any food debris that may have accumulated there.

 

  • Washing machines & tumble dryers:
    • Clean the filter of the appliance regularly. If clothes are washed or dried with tissues, coins, bobby pins, or other items in the pockets, these can block the filter and prevent the washing machine/dryer from functioning properly. If you are unsure how to check the filter, you will need to search online with the make/model of your washing machine to find a ‘how to’ guide. Gently vacuum the filter cavity as well to ensure you remove all of the fluff out.
    • Don’t overload the appliance as this can damage its bearings, which cannot be repaired. Double-check that all buttons are secured and any zips closed – sharp and hard objects like these can damage the interior of the appliance and even break the glass on the door of front-loading appliances.
    • On washing machines, ensure that you clean the soap tray and only use the suggested amount of detergent/washing powder – firstly, this will minimize risk of a leak; secondly, you will ensure your laundry is not left with white streaks from using too much detergent.
    • As with a dishwasher, regularly set a washing machine on an empty, high temperature cycle to enable the appliance to clean itself. Frequently wipe the rubber seal around the door of a laundry appliance to remove any remaining dampness and avoid mould forming.

 

  • Ovens & microwaves:
    • Clean your oven and microwave regularly. Best way to do this on a microwave is to wipe it after each use avoid development of rust if condensation or food residue is allowed to accumulate; for ovens, you will need to wait until the interior of the cavity cools down.
    • For settled grime, you can microwave a coffee cup with white vinegar mixed with water in a 50/50 proportion for two minutes, or low-heat a baking tray with the same substance in the oven – the vapour of vinegar and water will soften the dried dirt and you’ll be able to wipe it clean when the appliance has cooled.
    • Make sure that the clock/timer is set at all times – if not, the oven may not switch on.

 

  • Kettles & toasters:
    • De-scale your kettle regularly to prevent a build-up of limescale; clear bread crumbs from your toaster after each use as these can cause risk of fire.
    • Make sure that you do not fill the kettle above the ‘Max’ line when boiling it.

 

  1. Condensation, Mould and Dampness:

Mould is one of the biggest concerns tenants report; it can form as a result of condensation or damp. Damp is the responsibility of the Landlord to resolve; tenants, however, have a responsibility to prevent condensation to avoid development of mould.

 

  • Damp:
    • Penetrating damp is moisture within the property caused by water ingress. This could be a roof leak, blocked guttering, damaged pipes, cracks in rendering or brickwork, or other defects to the property.
    • Rising damp is usually a result of issues with the foundation or damp-proofing in the property.

If dampness is reported, we will instruct a damp specialist to investigate and suggest relevant works, of which Maintenance Team will advise the Landlord. Unless the cause for damp is found to be damage due to tenant actions, any expenses for damp-proofing or related repairs will be allocated to the Landlord.

 

  • Condensation:
    • When receiving reports of mould, the most common cause is condensation. It is the tenants’ responsibility to prevent condensation that forms within the house.
    • During the cold season, the exterior of the property is at a lower temperature than the inside. As a result, if moisture in the air inside the house reaches a certain level, the moisture will ‘stick’ to the cold walls of the house and revert to liquid, causing water droplets on walls and windows. This is a common issue in Brighton due to the humid sea air.
    • If allowed, this moisture is the perfect environment for mould spores to grow. Mould spreads easily as it grows from microscopic spores, one-celled organisms, reproducing rapidly when able to access moisture and oxygen, thus condensation must be prevented in order to prevent mould:
      • Heating: we advise to heat the property in the mornings and evenings, when the outside temperatures are lowest – boilers in our houses can be set on timers to enable this. Alternatively, low-temperature heating can be on constantly to maintain heat. Please note that heating the house is crucial to properly care for it – you must consider bills as an added expense to determine whether you can or cannot rent a certain property.
      • Ventilation: sufficient ventilation will ensure that the moist air is exchanged with fresh air from outside. Ensure that all extractor fans work and are used, these are installed in kitchens and bathrooms; report immediately if they malfunction or aren’t effective (test this by holding a tissue against the fan – if it sticks, it’s working). Close the kitchen or bathroom door when cooking/washing and open a window to let steam out.
      • Laundry: Never dry clothing on bannisters or radiators – this can increase moisture content in the air by up to 30%. Radiators with thermostatic valves may not heat up if they’re covered. Where possible, dry your clothes outside or on a rack in a well-ventilated room with the window open.
      • Miscellaneous tips: Don’t push furniture up against a wall to allow air circulation; don’t disable any existing extractor fans and ensure they’re always in use when cooking/bathing; keep lids on pans to avoid excess steam.
    • If you observe condensation forming, this needs to be wiped away at least once a day. Turning up the heating and increasing ventilation to prevent it from forming. Any trickle vents installed in windows must be kept open at all times.
    • If you notice mould forming, you will need to clean this off regularly. We recommend using a mild bleach solution to do this; you can also buy mould removal sprays – ensure that you wipe gently, not scrub, and no paint is damaged. When mould first forms it is living in the moisture on the surface of the window or wall; if left alone, the spores can grow into the wall, penetrating paint, which is much more timely and costly to resolve.
    • If you’re still unable to remove the mould, email repairs@g4lets.co.uk so we can instruct a contractor. They will report back on whether the cause is condensation or another issue; if the problem is due to condensation, you will be charged for any works undertaken.

 

Some useful links for your reference:

 

  1. DRAIN MAINTENANCE:

Please note that it is the current residents’ responsibility to ensure drain system at the property is maintained to a good working standard. You may be charged for a contractor’s services to clear any blockage found to have developed due to tenant inaction:

 

  • For basins, baths, sinks and showers, it is important that a strainer/hair snare/drain trap is used to prevent unwanted items from going down the drain (i.e. food bits, hair, shampoo bottle or razor blade caps, bobby pins, hair bands, etc).
  • Never dispose of wet wipes and sanitary products by flushing them in the toilet.
  • Kitchen sinks aren’t designed to have fat, oil and food poured into the drain. If you’re cooking with fat and oil, ensure that you put any excess in a sealed container/newspaper and throw this in the bin. Double-check that plates are thoroughly scraped before washing up or putting them in the dishwasher.
  • You are also responsible for the external gully drains containing waste water from showers, baths, basins & sinks. The gully drain does not contain human waste but may smell, if blocked, due to food residue from the kitchen sink or stagnant water.
  • If you notice a blockage, take the following steps in order:
    • Clear the gully drain (the outside drain). Wearing rubber gloves, remove the grid covering the drain and pull out anything blocking it. These can be blocked by food, hair, fat and soap powder.
    • Plunge all basins, baths, showers, sinks and toilets. Plungers can be purchased cheaply from The Store on the Lewes Road. Plunge all drains to enable the blockage in the system to be dislodged by the pressure of plunging.
    • Using gloves, carefully pour a couple of buckets of boiling water mixed with a good amount of bleach into each drain to rinse taking care not to burn yourself.
  • If the above has been completed and the drains are still blocked, please email repairs@g4lets.co.uk and we will instruct a contractor to address this. Please note, if the blockage contains food bits, hair, fat, wet wipes or excessive amounts of toilet paper, the cost of the call-out may be charged to you.

 

  1. FIRE ALARMS:

 

  • Never cover fire or smoke alarm sensors for any reason – this is a severe risk to yourselves and the property you’re renting.
  • If your fire alarm sounds:
    • Without placing yourself in danger, check if there is a fire somewhere in the property. If there is, vacate the property immediately and call 999. Your safety is paramount.
    • If it’s a false alarm, press Alt-5-1-4 to activate alarm panel or turn key, then choose ‘Silence’.   
    • Report to repairs@g4lets.co.uk stating what you believe is the cause of sounding the alarm. We will instruct an electrician to attend and clear any faults in the alarm system to ensure it functions properly and reset the alarms.
  • Never reset the fire alarm yourselves as this can delete the record of any fault, if any are present, and may cause further malfunctioning of the alarms.
  • If the alarm has been activated by tenant action, please note you may be charged for the call-out to reset it.
  • We strongly recommend you do the following to prevent triggering the alarms:
    • Use extractor fans when cooking or bathing, open a window to allow steam/smoke to disperse;
    • Clean the kitchen cooker hood regularly to prevent a build-up of grease;
    • Refrain from using deodorant or hairspray near detectors and only do so in a well-ventilated area;
    • Check that the toaster temperature setting is not too high, clean debris and crumbs after use;
    • Keep all cooking appliances clean to prevent burnt food from producing smoke;
    • Never burn candles/incense/oil burners in the property.

 

  1. FURNITURE:

All of our student houses are fully furnished – this includes white goods and small appliances in the kitchen, seating in the lounge, and each bedroom is equipped with a bed and mattress protector, a desk, a wardrobe or chest of drawers, a desk chair and curtains or blinds on the window:

 

  • You’re welcome to supply your own furniture for the duration of your tenancy, however kindly note that you will need to store the items provided and put them back in the room when moving out. The Landlord will not store furniture for you.
  • You’re welcome to supply your own curtains for the duration of your tenancy – as with above, you will need to re-hang the provided set upon leaving the house to ensure you leave it as per Inventory. The Landlord will not replace undamaged curtains; net curtains will not be supplied.
  • Look after the furniture carefully. You may be charged for damage to furniture, including windows, even if it is accidental or caused by a guest. Don’t eat or drink in bed or on a sofa to avoid staining these; clean any spillages immediately. Smoking in the property is strictly prohibited.
  • If an item of furniture is broken, report it at once – our contractors will visit and see if it can be repaired.

 

  1. GARDENING:

Gardening at the property is always the Landlord’s responsibility: there are arrangements in place for gardeners to attend during the warm months of April – October to tidy up any weeds, cut grass, shape shrubs. We do not supply tenants with gardening tools and do not expect them to tend to the garden themselves. Rubbish must not be thrown into the garden but disposed of in the bins.

 

Please note that outdoor furniture is not a necessity at a student house; a Landlord may choose to supply it, based on their preference and available space. BBQs and outdoor grills will not be supplied.

 

  1. PESTS:

As per the Welcome Pack and your Tenancy Agreement, Section 1.34, it is your responsibility to prevent infestation of any and all pests. If you see any signs of pests in the property, report this immediately to ensure the problem is not allowed to escalate.

 

  • Mice & Rats:
    • Never leave food openly around the property, any food kept in the cupboards must be stored in sealed containers.
    • Sweep the kitchen floor regularly, vacuum up any crumbs/spillages.
    • Ensure that rubbish is disposed of properly (triple-bagged where necessary).
    • If you suspect presence of rodents in the property, email repairs@g4lets.co.uk immediately. Please note that it is normal for them to live in the garden – ensuring there’s no food leftovers that would attract them, they should not attempt to enter the house.

 

  • Carpet Moths:

Carpet moths are becoming a common problem in the UK as a result of increasingly mild winters. These are insects that feed on the keratin found in natural fibre carpets (also in wool clothing): their larvae develop from eggs laid in carpets and grow into a moth while eating the carpeting.

 

    • Look out for any such sights:

[moth photos as on website]

    • Moths don’t travel via people’s clothes but can enter through opened windows, especially in warmer weather.
    • Moths and their larvae like dark and dusty areas, such as dim corners, gaps near skirting boards and under furniture and are also drawn to well-worn and musky clothing/bedding. Ensure that your clothing items are clean and folded away, room is well-ventilated and daylight allowed in.
    • Moths can be dormant during autumn/winter; their breeding cycle starts in spring and can last throughout summer – you’re required to keep vigilant during the whole of your tenancy and report any sightings immediately.
    • Move furniture around every few months to vacuum thoroughly beneath them and disrupt any breeding sites. You may consider using designated carpet cleaning powders to lessen a carpet’s appeal to the insect.

 

  • Bed Bugs:

Bed bugs appear as small black dots on a mattress (they are often found in the creases around the edge of the mattress) and inflict itchy bites.

 

    • If you suspect presence of bed bugs, email repairs@g4lets.co.uk and we will instruct a contractor to inspect your room. You will be charged a £20 call-out fee for the initial inspection.
    • If it is confirmed that you have bed bugs, you will be charged a minimum of £50 + VAT for sanitising your room.
    • Bed bugs are easily preventable by changing sheets regularly and washing them on a high-temperature cycle.

 

  1. SANIFLO TOILETS:

If there is a Saniflo toilet in your student house, please note the following:

 

  • Saniflos must never be switched off at the mains – this will cause a serious overflow and flooding, which will be charged to your group.
  • Only human waste and toilet paper (not in excessive quantities) is put down the Saniflo as other items such as wet wipes and sanitary products will jam the mechanism and cause a blockage and overflow. You may be charged.
  • If the Saniflo malfunctions or a blockage is present, report to repairs@g4lets.co.uk and we will instruct a Saniflo engineer to attend. They will prepare a report as to the cause of the problem; if this is as a result of the Saniflo being switched off or inappropriate items being flushed, you will be charged for the call-out and any necessary repairs.