John Shepherd’s maintenance tips for tenants
Adhering to the maintenance guide for the property you rent, is not only your responsibility – it’s what makes you a great tenant.
Upholding the maintenance you are responsible for, can benefit both you and your landlord.
Your landlord will ultimately be happy because their property is well-kept, and you will minimise your own stress as a result of fewer things ‘going wrong’.
Furthermore, if things are hassle-free, you’re both more likely to renew your lease – which is especially good news if you enjoy living there!
Reporting a maintenance issue
Over the years, John Shepherd have witnessed lots of unnecessary stress over maintenance issues, and we aim to minimise stresses for all concerned.
Our ‘Report a Repair’ feature enables tenants to effectively communicate their maintenance issues to their landlords.
But before you report a repair or issue, there are a lot of steps that tenants can take, which often resolve the matter quickly.
On that note, let’s take a look at our Tenant Maintenance Guide and see what these are …
You can perform the following checks on your boiler before reporting an issue, if you feel comfortable and it is safe to do so:
- Ensure that the electricity and boiler are turned on
- If applicable, make sure there is credit on the meter
- Check the thermostat is not turned down to a lower heat setting
- Try to reset the boiler by pressing the ‘reset’ button (consult your boiler manual for specific guidance)
- Check the boiler pressure (please refer to your boiler manual to find out what the correct pressure should be and how to re-pressurise your boiler)
Please note, if the boiler is on and the water does not run hot after allowing time to heat up, or if the boiler cannot be turned on at all, then please report this to us.
Blocked sinks and drains
Sinks and drains often get blocked due to waste building up or there being something in the pipes which should not be there.
Ultimately you should try to avoid getting a blocked sink in the first place! Do not put items down the sink which should be discarded in a bin. Things like coffee grounds and drained food items should all go in the bin.
If it’s too late and your sink is blocked, then you should take the following steps:
- Initially you should work to unblock the sink yourself
- You can pour hot water down the sink – this may shift a build-up of grease and fat
- If this doesn’t work, there are many ‘sink un-blocker’ solutions which can be purchased in the supermarket
If the blockage persists once you’ve tried to solve the problem, you should notify us
As a guideline it is recommended that you check your radiators every couple of months, and in the event that they don’t heat up, it might mean that they need ‘bleeding’.
Bleeding a radiator is a relatively simple but important thing to do, as it helps maintain the efficiency of your boiler and central heating system.
What’s more, you will be thankful for learning how to bleed your radiators if you have any issues with them over the chilly winter months!
Before bleeding your radiator, you should:
- Turn off the central heating and wait for all radiators to completely cool down
- Ensure you have a radiator key in order to bleed it. If you don’t have a radiator key, you can buy one from most DIY stores (note that some modern radiators only require a regular screwdriver)
- Make sure you have a cloth and a bucket to hand, placing them below the radiator valve to catch any water
To bleed your radiator, you must:
- Hold the radiator key with a cloth
- Insert the key into the relevant slot (the smallest square nut at the top of the radiator)
- Slowly turn the key anti-clockwise to open your radiator’s valve
- Next you should hear a hissing sound as the air escapes
- Wait until the sound stops and water starts to leak out
- Then you must turn the key clockwise to close the valve
Once you have bled your radiator, you should:
- Check the pressure of your boiler gauge
- If the pressure is too low, you’ll need to rebalance the pressure (check your boiler manual for guidance)
- If the pressure is normal, you can switch your heating on
- Then check to make sure the affected radiators all warm up
In the case that multiple radiators are cold, there may well be a problem with your heating system which will need to be checked by a qualified engineer.
If this is the case, or if your radiator issues persist after carrying out these checks, then please continue to report the issue to us.
Condensation and ventilation
As a tenant you are responsible for making sure condensation doesn’t build up over time, as it can cause damage to the property and its fittings.
You can ensure you maintain a good level of ventilation by:
- Opening windows near to where a build-up of steam may occur (in bathrooms and kitchens, for example) which will allow the condensation to evaporate
- Drying the areas where condensation forms with a cloth on a daily basis
- Keeping internal doors open – especially if you are drying clothes inside
- Ensuring extractor fans and units are turned on
Should condensation persist despite implementing the efforts above, the next step is to let us know by reporting the issue.
Tumble dryer issues
If your tumble dryer is playing up, or you think it is broken, you should undertake the following steps if you feel it both safe and convenient to do so:
- Check the dryer is plugged in and powered (yes …!)
- Look at your fuse box or consumer unit to see if circuit breakers require a reset
- Make sure the filter is clean and free of fluff/fibres
- If your dryer is a ‘condensing’ model, be sure to empty the water tank after each use (please refer to your instruction manual on how to do this)
Should your dryer still not work after carrying out the above checklist, please let us know by reporting the issue.
Washing machine issues
If you are experiencing issues with your washing machine, you should undertake the following steps if you feel it both safe and convenient to do so:
- Check to see if the washing machine filter is clear of anything causing a blockage
- Refer to the appliance manual for how to clean the filter
Any repairs as a result of items being left in your laundry (such as coins or tissues) are subject to you, the tenant, being charged.
If your washing machine still does not drain, please continue to report the problem through our tenant portal.
If you are experiencing an electrical outage, you will need to take the following steps before reporting an issue.
- Locate the fuse board, consumer unit or C.D. unit
- Reset tripped switches to ‘ON’
- If switch continues to trip, unplug appliances to identify faulty appliance
- DON’T reset the trip switch if the problem persists
If the above measures don’t solve the electrical problem, you can then contact your landlord, or report the problem on our website.
If it’s a broader issue, and there is a power cut in your street/area, you can get live updates from visiting Western Power.
After that you must report this issue to us.
If the water leak cannot be contained and/or is damaging the property, then you must report it to us as soon as possible. If the water is penetrating into an electrical fitting it is classified as an emergency and it must be reported to us as soon as possible.
In the case of a water leak, you must turn off the water supply immediately using the stopcock (the stopcock is usually turned clockwise to stop the flow of water).
The stopcock in a property can typically be located:
- Underneath the kitchen sink
- In an airing cupboard
- In the basement
- Under the floorboards by the front door
If the source of the water leak is coming from a neighbouring property, you must try to contact the occupant of that property immediately and report the issue to us as soon as possible.
Shower heads and taps
Maintaining the condition of your shower heads and taps is part of your responsibility as a tenant.
Neglecting these can lead to the build-up of scum and limescale, which can block the flow of water.
You can make sure your shower heads and taps are well maintained involves:
- Cleaning and disinfecting all shower heads and taps regularly, ensuring they are free from any build up
- Using suitable de-scaling products that can be found in most supermarkets (always check the product is suitable for use on the affected item)
If you are concerned or have a query about your shower heads or taps, please contact us
Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms
Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are either mains or battery powered.
If your battery powered alarm is not functioning correctly, you should firstly check whether the batteries need replacing before reporting this as an issue to your landlord or agent.
In almost all cases, the replacement of alarm batteries is the occupier’s responsibility, but your terms of agreement will identify who is responsible for replacing alarm batteries – so check that before making contact.
The replacement of light bulbs is often a tenant’s responsibility. Please check the terms of your agreement to identify who is responsible for replacing light bulbs in your property.
Break-ins and Burglaries
In the unfortunate case that your property gets broken into, you must immediately call the police on 999.
If the intrusion happens while you have been away from the property:
- Do not enter the property, as the burglar may still be there
- Call the police immediately on 999 and wait for them to arrive
- Once the police have arrived and the property is safe to enter, you must call us on 0121 633 4455 to arrange a contractor to visit and make the property secure
- When the Police visit, obtain and share with us the Crime Reference Number as this may be needed for the insurance company.
Further information and support on break-ins and burglaries can be found here.
Pest control issues
As a tenant, it is your responsibility to take reasonable actions to prevent the infestation of pests such as rats, ants, or mice. Responsible actions include ensuring all areas of the property are kept clean and clear of waste both externally and internally.
If a pest infestation occurs as a result of you neglecting the property, it will be you who is responsible for paying for the pest control measures.
Pest control measures for mice
To get rid of an infestation of mice, you can:
- Identify the pattern of their activity by looking for poop and listening out
- Set a mouse trap (good quality snap traps or electronic traps are the best)
- Pick some good bait (mice love rich foods like peanut butter and chocolate spread)
- Position your trap in the best place (rodents move along walls, so on the floor at a right angle to the wall)
- Make sure the bait and trap side are closest to the wall
- Set a trap every 2 to 3 feet along the wall
- Check the mouse traps first thing every morning
Please note that snap traps are the least expensive, and you can either reuse them or dispose of them.
We know catching a mouse isn’t the most pleasant thing to do, so it might be worth knowing electronic traps with an electronic traps have indicator light lets you know when one has been caught.
This means you won’t actually ‘see anything’ you don’t want to.
If a pest problem is persistent, then you can report it to us via our portal.
We hope this tenant maintenance guide supports your renting experience with us!
From the John Shepherd Lettings Team
*The information provided here by John Shepherd Lettings is for general information only and reflects the understanding at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. It is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.