Information for Tenants

The Estate Office

The Estate office is open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. Telephone 01434 345273 Email: info@whitfieldestate.co.uk

Repairs

All requests for repairs must be made direct to the Estate Office. We try to prioritise all repairs so routine items may take a little while to attend to. Out of office hours requests should only be made in the case of an emergency and can be made by leaving a message on the office answer phone or alternatively to: Malcolm Watson - 07762 018493.

Please note that the Estate's resources out of hours are very limited and we may not be able to help in some cases. You should have alternative heating appliances in case of loss of heating.

Alterations

Any alterations or tenant improvements must be agreed in advance and work must not be carried out without written permission. Due to the age of our properties, there may be asbestos lagging in inaccessible areas and roof spaces. This is perfectly safe while undisturbed. However you should be aware that disturbance of these areas can create a serious hazard. Should you have any concerns please contact the Estate Office.

Insurance

You should ensure that you have adequate contents insurance suitable for a tenanted property.

Responsibilities

You should read your tenancy agreement carefully and make yourself aware of your responsibilities with regards to repairs. Please note that the Estate is not responsible for all repairs, particularly not for those caused by misuse, e.g. broken windows or stove glass, blocked gutters or for blocked drains caused by grease or other inappropriate items being introduced into the drainage systems. We do not deal with vermin or bees/wasps. If you call us for repairs which are your responsibility you may be charged for the cost.

If you use a wood burning stove or open fire you must inform the Estate Office. You must have the chimney swept at least annually and supply a certificate from a HETAS registered sweep. You must also have a CO detector in the room containing the solid fuel appliance. Repairs to glass in a wood burning stove is your responsibility.

Please also note if you have an oil boiler fitted in the property you must use it occasionally e.g. once a quarter to prevent deterioration or you will be held responsible for any internal deterioration due to non-use.

You will have at least one smoke alarm fitted in your property and you must check this regularly and change the batteries when required.

Leaving your property unoccupied

Should you leave your property unoccupied over the winter period for more than a day you should ensure that it is adequately protected against frost. We recommend leaving your heating on low and turning off your mains water supply.

Rent

If you foresee any difficulty in paying your rent on time please let the Estate Office know as soon as possible. Please note late rent payments are a breach of your tenancy agreement and may result in your tenancy being terminated. We also may be obliged to inform credit agencies which may affect your future ability to obtain credit.

Walks

There are a number of rights of way locally for walking pets. Please note dogs must be kept on leads at all times, or under close control, and please clear up any mess they make.

Useful telephone numbers:

  • Electricity Emergency: 0800 668 877 
  • Heating Oil: WCF Fuels: 0191 518 6770. Alston Oil: 01434 382582
  • Calour Gas: 0845 609 6202 
  • Northumberland County Council: 0845 600 6400
  • North East Pest Control: 07887 842663 / 0191 4142418 (bees, wasps, vermin)

 

Damp & Condensation

Advice about Dampness

Most damp problems are caused by condensation and occasionally damp is caused either by water penetrating from roof and gutter leaks or rising from the ground. In these latter cases we will investigate and advise.

However please read the information in our 'Condensation' section. Our properties are old and stone buildings do suffer badly when they are not looked after and poorly heated and ventilated. Condensation can be a cumulative problem and once plasterwork has been damp the salts attract more damp so please ensure that you follow the advice in our 'Condensation' section.

During the cold winter months a quick 'blow through' in the morning by opening the windows is sometimes all that is needed to clear the build up of damp air that has accumulated overnight.

Advice about Condensation

Condensation is a relatively modern phenomenon largely caused by lack of ventilation.

The effects of condensation are most visible on window glass, where large amounts of water form on the cold glass.

Warm air inside buildings is capable of holding a great deal of moisture, however when the air cools the moisture is released, causing condensation. The window glass being much cooler than other surfaces is the first indication of a condensation problem, however condensation can also occur within the walls and fabric of the building -this is often confused with rising or penetrating damp.

As water deposited as condensation is pure, damp areas caused by condensation are characterised by a black or grey mould growth, mould cannot thrive on damp areas contaminated with salt which is the case with penetrating or rising damp. Therefore mould and damp are almost exclusively caused by condensation. The most common areas for damp and mould growth caused by condensation are at the skirting level where the wall is cooler and in corners of wall and ceiling, or behind furniture and the like where air flow is restricted.

The average household produces around 14 litres or 24 pints of water vapour per day, this vapour must be allowed to vent to the outside air: if allowed to linger this amount of water will be deposited into the building fabric causing considerable damage. The main sources of water vapour are as follows:

  • Drying clothes
  • Cooking
  • Kettles
  • Washing Machines
  • Bathing

It is therefore important that you ensure that you allow adequate ventilation at all times but particularly when the above activities are taking place.

Most condensation problems occur from October to April, this is when the fabric of the building is cooler, windows are closed and the warm moisture laden air is retained in the property. If this air is allowed to cool sufficiently it will release the moisture, either on window glass or on walls and ceilings, curtains and fabrics: anything that is cool. This pure water then permits the growth of mould spores. Condensation is the product of your day to day activities, coupled with the lack of ventilation. When properties were heated with open fires, condensation was almost unheard of. This was because of the vast amount of ventilation permitted by chimneys. The downside of this of course was permanent draughts as air travelled through the property.

However condensation can be controlled. Allowing adequate escape of vapour laden air through partially opened windows or by fans and keeping the fabric of the building relatively warm will help to prevent condensation forming within the property. Prevent moist air from cooking and bathing spreading to other rooms by keeping doors closed to the kitchen and bathroom. Drying clothes in the house creates enormous amounts of moisture, which will cause problems if not controlled.

Remember the only way to control condensation is by adequate ventilation.

 

 Electrical Problems

Please check these things before calling the Estate Office. Sometimes the solution is easy to find or you may be able to restore some power until an electrician can be arranged e.g. appliances such as freezers could be temporarily served by an extension cable from unaffected circuits.

You will have one large RCD (Residual Current Device) protecting the whole board which usually has a test button. Each power and lighting circuit is protected either by a removable fuse or a Miniature Circuit Breaker (MCB), more usually referred to as a trip switch.

  • NO POWER AT ALL: Is there power to adjacent properties/streetlights? If not call NEDL.
  • Check fuse board, has main trip (RCD) activated? Re-set it.
  • NO LIGHTS BUT SOCKETS OK: Check MCBs, a light bulb blowing may cause the MCB to activate and turn off lights on that circuit. Do you have an outside light? Check to see that the fitting is not full of water.
  • MAIN TRIP (RCD) WILL NOT RE-SET: Put all circuit breakers off (MCB) or remove all fuses.
  • Re-set main trip (RCD). If RCD trips immediately: Electrician required.

If RCD sets; switch on each MCB or replace the fuses one at a time to establish which circuit is causing the fault. It may be an appliance on that circuit.

Unplug all appliances connected to that circuit and try resetting again. If the MCB does not trip, plug a radio or lamp into the socket and start reconnecting the appliances one by one. A faulty appliance will the cause the MCB to trip and the lamp/radio to switch off. Main culprits are cookers, washing machines, driers, kettles and irons.

If the fault is on a lighting circuit, check all bulbs and fittings including outside lights.

If one circuit is affected and the MCB will not reset even when all appliances are unplugged, an electrician is required.

 

Septic Tanks

If your property is connected to a septic tank system, there are guidelines which need to be followed both to allow the septic tank to function properly and to prevent blockages to the drains.

Unfortunately modern cleaning materials can adversely affect both the drains and tanks causing blockages and breakdowns which are very costly.

Generally it will be your responsibili8ty to pay for the emptying of your septic tank although if you are on a shared system expenses will be shared with other tenants. Please therefore comply with the following points which have been produced by the Environment Agency to minimise problems and expense.

  • Try to use only household products labelled 'suitable for septic tanks', 'environmentally friendly' or 'low phosphate'
  • Use household cleaning products in moderate amounts, minimise detergent use in washing machines and dishwashers.
  • Try to use less water and space out laundry/dishwashing loads to prevent lots of waste water washing through the system at once.
  • Use a sink strainer as food scraps cause sludge build ups.
  • Never flush anything other than bodily waste and toilet paper down the toilet -put everything else in the rubbish bin. Please note in particular that wet wipes will block the pipework system.
  • Never dispose of grease or cooking oil down any drain: pour into a container and dispose of in the rubbish bin.
  • Never put paints, solvents or any other chemicals down any drain, these must be disposed of at a civic amenity site.

Please bear in mind that 99% of blocked drains are caused by the wrong things being discharged into the drains rather than anything wrong with the drains themselves.

  • KITCHEN TOWELS, SANITARY ITEMS, COTTON BUDS, CONDOMS, NAPPIES, MOIST TOILET TISSUE, WIPES - These can block your drains. They are not broken down in the tank, and so cause the sludge to build up more quickly.
  • OILS, GREASE, FAT - These will solidify and block your drains. They are not broken down in the tank, and so cause the sludge to build up more quickly. Fats 'waterproof' the soakaway, stopping it from working.
  • BLEACHES, PAINTS, DISINFECTANTS, PESTICIDES, MEDICINES, SOLVENTS, CAUSTIC SODA, DRAIN CLEANERS - These kill the bacteria in your tank (stopping the system from digesting waste) and pollute the environment.
  • HOUSEHOLD CLEANING PRODUCTS CONTAINING PHOSPHATES - Phosphates are a major pollutant of watercourses. Septic tanks do not remove them so low phosphate products must be used.

Property Enquiries

For all property enquiries please contact Malcolm Watson
Email: malcolm.watson@whitfieldestate.co.uk