Living in a flat: your responsibilities and advice on living in a council flat
1. Your responsibilities
As a tenant of a multi-storey or walk-up block of flats you have a number of responsibilities to help keep your building safe for everyone.
You’re also responsible for the behaviour of your visitors. They need to treat the building, other people and the environment with respect.
2. Anti-social behaviour and noise
Anti-social behaviour (ASB) is unacceptable. It includes behaviour that causes harm to:
- an individual, like threatening language or aggressive behaviour
- the environment, like graffiti or fly-tipping
- the community, like noise pollution, drunken behaviour or drug taking
You can report anti-social behaviour on a council estate by:
- reporting anti-social behaviour online.
- calling 0117 922 2200 (option 4), Monday to Friday 8.30am to 6pm
If you have an emergency always contact the police on 999.
If you’re a housing association tenant, contact your landlord directly.
When you live in a block of flats you need to be careful how much noise you make.
- play your TV, music or radio too loudly
- slam doors
- shout or make lots of noise in communal areas
If you know you’re going to make noise, and you can’t avoid it, you should tell your neighbours before it happens.
Fitting carpets into your home instead of wooden or laminate flooring can also help to reduce the noise travelling to the flat below you.
If you’ve got a problem with a noisy neighbour you should try speaking to them because they might not know that they’re making too much noise.
If speaking to them doesn’t help then call us on 0117 922 2200 (option four).
3. Balconies and windows
You must keep any balconies clean and clear. In some blocks balconies are part of the escape route if there’s an emergency, such as a fire.
You must also make sure that items don’t fall from the balcony as this can cause serious injury. If someone gets hurt because of something falling from your balcony, legal action may be taken against you.
The windows in your flat have restrictors that stop them from opening too far. These are important, especially if you have small children, so you should keep them on.
You can release the restrictor by slightly pulling back the open part of the window until the hook is released.
If the restrictor or any part of the window is damaged you will need to report a repair.
The communal areas are shared between everyone in your block, so it’s important they’re kept safe and clean.
- keep the landings outside your front door clean and clear
- not throw food into communal areas to feed birds as this attracts rats, pigeons and seagulls which cause damage and spread disease
You can find out when your area will be cleaned by looking at the ‘Caretaking Services notice board’. This is normally in a main entrance or laundry if you have one. You can also contact us to find out when your site is cleaned.
If you need something cleaned urgently in a communal area:
- from 8.30am to 6pm, contact caretaking services
- outside of these hours, call 0117 922 2050
5. Fire safety
When you live in a flat you must help to keep the whole block safe in the event of a fire.
- keeping communal doors closed at all times to prevent fire spreading
- not leaving rubbish or large items in communal areas, which can obstruct the exits and cause a fire hazard
- not smoking in any communal area
Remember not to use the lifts in the event of a fire.
6. Key fobs and communal keys
You'll be given a key fob or metal communal key when you begin your tenancy.
Let us know if your key gets damaged, stolen, or if you lose it. You can also ask for an extra one.
Problem with a key fobIf you’re having problems getting in to your building, remember it could be the door that has a problem, not your key fob.
If you have a problem with getting into your building, call us on 0117 922 2200 (option 4).
7. Laundries and community rooms
Some of our blocks have communal laundries for you to do your washing.
- only use the laundry in your block
- not let people who don’t live in your block use your laundry
- only use the laundry during your fixed time slot
- make sure you don’t overrun your time slot because other people won’t be able to use the laundry during theirs
- contact caretaking services if you need to add another time slot to the one you’ve got
- not prop the laundry doors open with objects, as this causes a risk of fire, and is a breach of your tenancy conditions
- not put rugs and mats into the machines because it'll break them
- always leave the laundry clean and tidy
- let us know if any of the machines in your laundry break down
You shouldn’t fit a washing machine inside your own flat if your block has a laundry because the drainage in older blocks wasn’t designed to handle them. You still have to pay a laundry service charge even if you don’t use it.
If your block has a community room you can use it for events such as meetings and children’s parties.
The facilities are different for every block and there may be a charge.
To find out more, contact caretaking services.
8. Lifts, landings and corridors
We regularly service all of the lifts in our blocks of flats.
If you get stuck in a lift press the alarm button on the control panel. This will put you through to Otis, who are responsible for fixing the lifts. They’ll send an engineer out to help you within 30 minutes.
Make sure your children know what to do if a lift breaks down.
Don't force doors open or press all of the buttons at once as this can break the lifts.
Lift breakdown response times
If one of our lifts break down Otis, our lift contractor, will get to the lift within an agreed response times.
30 minutes where:
- people are trapped or have been reported as being trapped
- the position or condition of the lift is a health and safety hazard
- the lift is needed for access by a disabled person
One hour where:
- the lift is the only operational lift in the building
- both lifts serve different floors
- the lift is the only one that serves all floors
Two hours where the building is served by two or more lifts and one or more lifts remain operational serving all floors.
Landings, corridors and walkways
You must keep landings, corridors and walkways clear and they mustn’t be misused. This includes not using roller skates, skateboards, scooters or bikes inside the building. Not only does this cause damage to the floor, but it’s also a nuisance and dangerous for other people in the block.
9. Mobility scooters
If you have a mobility scooter you need to find somewhere to store and charge it.
They can’t be left in communal areas such as landings, lifts, foyers, stairwells, walkways or the community room because they can block escape routes if there’s a fire.
There is storage for mobility scooters at 11 of our supported housing schemes.
Most blocks have notice boards in either the entrance foyer or the laundry.
They have information about:
- your caretaking team and how to contact caretaking services
- when your building is next going to be inspected and the results of the last inspection
- how to make a complaint to us
- other contact details for the services we provide
- details for local community groups, events and activities
If you want to put something on your communal noticeboard, speak to your caretaker.
11. Outside areas
We check the grounds around your building and regularly clear away litter.
Find out how often our grounds are maintained and report an issue
During severe winters we‘ll clear paths to laundries, bin areas and the main entrance to your block.
If you find sex or drugs litter contact Caretaking Services
12. Parking and garages
Most of our car parks are free to use for tenants or visitors.
Some of our car parks have restrictions so you may need a permit. This will be made clear by signs and notices in the car park.
Find out about designated car parks and areas.
You might be able to rent a garage if there’s a garage site close to your block. Find out about renting a garage or parking bay.
13. Pest control
If you find a pest infestation in a communal area contact caretaking services.
If you’ve got a problem with rats, mice or wasps in your flat then you can use our pest control service. This is free if you’re on certain benefits.
If it’s a different type of pest you’ll need to find another way to get rid of them. You can find a local pest controller on the BPCA website.
If you have a pet, you need to make sure it isn’t causing a nuisance to other people in and around your block.
This includes cleaning up after them inside and outside your block.
We'll take action if we get complaints about your pet.
You’re not allowed to keep dogs in some of our blocks.
You're not allowed to keep any dangerous dogs.
You need to make sure your dog is on a lead at all times in communal areas. Dogs that aren’t on a lead will be classed as a stray and could be taken away.
You can tell us about something that needs fixing in your flat or communal area by reporting a repair online.
If there’s a gas or water leak from your home then we’ll need to get into your flat to fix it. If we can’t get in, and we can’t contact you, we’ll need to force entry, so it’s important we have up to date contact details for you.
If you’ve changed your details you need to tell us by calling 0117 922 2200 (option four).
16. Rubbish and recycling
You must get rid of your rubbish in a safe and responsible manner.
If you live in a block with a rubbish chute make sure you only use small bags as larger bags can get stuck. If we can’t clear them we have to call out a specialist which costs £100.
You musn't leave rubbish bags in communal areas, including outside your front door or in the chute room. If you’ve got a large rubbish bag you'll need to put it in the bins provided.
Many of our blocks of flats have their own mini recycling centres.
Find out about recycling in flats.
Big, bulky items such as furniture or white goods need to be disposed of properly. You can do this using our bulky household item collection.
You should do everything you can to make sure your flat and the block you live in remain safe.
- making sure that the entrance to your block is kept shut when not being used and not wedged open with an object
- fitting a door chain to your flat for added security
- not letting anyone you don’t know into the block or your flat unless you’ve seen identification
Some blocks have CCTV which can be used as evidence for the police if there’s an incident.
You can apply for extra storage space with our tenant stores.
They're very popular so you might have to put your name on a waiting list.
To find out about using a tenant store contact caretaking services.