7 ways to efficiently heat your rental this winter!

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Although we’ve gotten away with a pretty mild winter so far, when the frost does become more of a regular occurrence, we want to stay as warm and as cosy inside our rental (or home!) without breaking our heating bill budget. Doing a few small things to prepare can make your winter season much more efficient and save you money!

Follow these handy heating tips:

1. Get to know your boiler or heating system

To heat your rental property  effectively & efficiently, you will need to know how to operate the heating system. Being comfortable using the thermostat and timer will make it easier to create a heating regime that works best for you.

2. Bleed the radiators

Allow the radiators to work at their optimum level by ensuring they have been bled and are heating up properly. If you’re unsure how, follow this how-to guide.

3. Aim for the optimum temperature

During the day, when the heating is most likely to be on, its best that you find an optimum temperature where you are not too warm or too cold. This sweet spot will allow you to enjoy a comfortable home without running up ridiculously high bills from overheating. The NHS recommend that you choose a temperature of at least 18°C (64°F) if you are over 65, but you can lower this if you are younger and active.

4. DIY draught excluder

Draught excluders prevent the loss of heat and the influx of draughts from beneath your door. These handy inventions have been around for hundreds of years, and you can even spare the cost of buying one by making your own. This can double up as a fun DIY craft project if you are looking for something to do indoors in the winter — take a look at the National Trust’s fool-proof guide to making a festive draught excluder for further instruction.

5. Check your windows

Cracks can sometimes form in window frames and allow in a draught. Check the windows and cover any gaps with draught-proofing strips.

6. Put your extractor fan on a timer

Extractor fans in the kitchen or bathroom can cool the house if left on unnecessarily. If possible, install a timer on your fans.

7. Make the most of curtains

Closing the curtains can add an extra layer of insulation, as well as allowing you to show them off!

Make sure you stay warm this winter!

5 ways to protect your family from carbon monoxide poisoning

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A recent survey by npower has revealed that only one in 20 parents know the symptoms of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and the more than a third of UK homes aren’t fitted with a CO alarm. In order to raise awareness following Carbon Monoxide week (21-25 November), we’ve put together five ways in which you can protect you and your family from the dangers of CO poisoning:

1. Know the most common symptoms

Only 6% of people in the UK can spot the most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, which means that possible cases can be missed. Dizziness, headaches, nausea and vomiting, tiredness and confusion, stomach pain, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing are all symptoms of CO poisoning. If you notice any of these, make sure to seek medical help.

2. Fit CO alarms in your home

The only way to detect a CO leak is with a CO alarm, it’s a simple and relatively cheap way to make sure you’re protecting your family from potential CO leaks.

3. Get your appliances serviced regularly by registered engineers

Whether you’re getting new appliances fitted or you’ve had them for a while, regular services by registered engineers are necessary to ensure that everything is working correctly and any malfunctions that could cause CO leaks are picked up.

4. Make sure your kitchen is fitted with an extractor fan and do not block air vents

It’s really important to make sure all your rooms are properly ventilated, if you have air vents in any of your rooms make sure that items of furniture are not covering them.

5. Ensure your chimneys and flues are swept regularly by qualified sweeps

Blocked flues and chimneys mean that carbon monoxide can’t escape, it’s a good idea to schedule in inspections once a year to make sure they are working correctly.

Landlord responsibilities – what are they?

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Attention Landlords! I’m sure you’re all aware of your responsibilities for your rental property but just in case you’re a first time landlord, our good friends at ProClean Team (London’s end of tenancy cleaning superstars!) have put together a list of your list of your legal obligations:

  1. Gas Safety – The Gas Safety Regulations 1998 require that all landlords keep in good maintenance and condition all gas appliances, flues and pipes. As the landlord you’re responsible for making sure this happens.
  2. Electricity – Landlords must comply both with the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 and the Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994.  Any records relating to electrical safety need to be filed for safe keeping.
  3. Repairs & Maintenance – The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 states that the landlord is legally responsible to keepthe property in good repair.
  4. EPCs – Landlords are obliged to provide tenants with a proof of Energy Performance Certificate.
  5. Legionella Risk Assessment – Landlords are obliged to perform a Legionella Risk Assessment on each of their properties at recommended intervals of 2 years, or whenever the risk is said to have ‘changed’.
  6. Fire Safety – You must follow fire safety regulations, i.e. ensure your tenants haveaccess to escape routes at all times, ensure all furniture and furnishings you supply with thetenancy are fire safe and  provide fire alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and extinguishers (extinguishers only legally required if your property is an HMO,i.e. House in Multiple Occupation).
  7. Smoke Alarm Regulations – A smoke alarm (to new Government standards -10 year battery operated units) must be installed on every storey with a room used as accommodation.
  8. Carbon Monoxide Detector Regulations – Any properties occupied under a tenancy must have carbon monoxide alarms in any rooms which are used as living accommodation and contain a solid fuel burning appliance. This includes wood burning stoves, open fires, and solid fuel cookers in a kitchen.
  9. ‘Right to Rent’ Immigration Check – In accordance with the Immigration Act 2014, a landlord who lets property in England must conduct checks to establish whether a person has the right to rent.  You must check ALL new tenants, not just those you think are not British Citizens.
  10. ‘How to Rent’ Guide – As part of the Deregulation Act 2015, landlords in England must now provide new tenants with ‘prescribed information’ that makes them aware of their rights and responsibilities as a tenant. Thisinformation is contained in a single Government pamphlet entitled ‘How to Rent’, which you can find by going to this link.

    Happy renting!

12 Things You Need To Know About Carbon Monoxide Poisoning!

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Unknown-2To help keep your family safe and secure, here’s 12 things you should know about carbon monoxide poisoning from npower.

How safe is your home?

  • 95% of the UK say they know what CO poisoning is, but around a third of UK homes are not fitted with carbon monoxide alarms and less than six percent of the UK can actually identify the most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Although more than 80 percent of the UK correctly said a faulty boiler can be a cause of – however less than 40 percent have had their boiler serviced in the last 12 months.
  • Despite recent legal changes for landlords, the research also showed that over a third of privately rented homes are not fitted with alarms, and only 5% of private tenants were able to identify the most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. Since October 2015, it has been the law for landlords to fit a carbon monoxide alarm in every room with a solid fuel source.

What exactly is CO poisoning?

CO is produced when fuels such as gas, coal or wood don’t burn fully. As you breathe it in, it enters your bloodstream and mixes with haemoglobin to produce carboxyhaemoglobin. This leads to less oxygen being carried through your blood which causes the body’s cells and tissues to die.

Understanding the symptoms of carbon monoxide and what to do if you think someone is suffering is vital and could save someone’s life.

How to spot if someone is suffering from CO poisoning

Due to similarities between the symptoms of CO poisoning and the symptoms of flu or food poisoning, it is possible to miss the signs that someone is suffering from CO poisoning.

Unlike flu, CO poisoning does not cause a fever and the most common symptoms include:

  • Headache
  •  Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness and confusion
  • Stomach pain
  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing

5 ways to protect you and your family from Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning

  1. Know the most common symptoms
  2. Fit CO alarms in your home
  3. Get your appliances serviced regularly by registered engineers and ensure all new appliances are installed by registered professionals
  4. Make sure your kitchen is fitted with an extractor fan, do not block air vents and ensure all rooms are property ventilated
  5. Ensure your chimneys and flues are swept regularly by qualified sweeps

Make sure you use this guide wisely and protect your home!

Rules & Regulations every landlord needs to be aware of!

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legal-safety-obligationsWe appreciate that there are a raft of rules and regulations that landlords need to be aware of, so we thought it would be useful to summarise them right here:

  1. Gas Safety Record  – Carried out by a qualified Gas Safe Engineerand needs to be checked every 12 months;
  2. Electrical Regulation – Electrical devices must be safe for use and checked via installation surveys and portable appliance testing (PAT);
  3. Tenancy Deposit Scheme – Tenant’s deposits must be registered with a tenanct deposit scheme, which protects the tenant’s money and can help resolve any disputes at the end of a tenancy. There are three schemes available and you can read more about them here;
  4. Energy Performance Certificate – Required by landlords before they rent a property and must be on display when it’s being marketed. If a property doesn’t have an EPC when marketed, the landlord (and agent) risk a fine;
  5. Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarms – Regulation requires alarms to be on every floor & they must be cheked on the first day the property is let. Then it’s the responsibility of the tenant to regularly check the alarm is in working order;
  6. Furniture & Furnishing Regulations – All furnishings must comply with these and must display standard lables in prominent positions to reduce the risk of fire at the property;
  7. Legionella – Landlords have a duty of care to make sure the water supply is working properly to protect tenants from Legionella.
  8. Housing Health & Safety Rating System – Introduced as part of the Housing Act 2004, this allows local authorities to assess the condition of a property and any potential hazards with the aim of maintaining good standards in the private rented sector.
  9. Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) – Renting a property to occupants who are not a family group means that landlords need to comply with rules around HMO’s. Follow this link to read more about HMO rules.
  10. The How to Rent Guide – A new tenant should always receive a Department of Local Government and Communities How To Rent Guide at the start of their tenancy from their letting agent, which give advice about what to do before and during a let. Read more about the guide right here.

Gas Safety inspections for rental properties

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imagesWe came across an interesting article recently regarding understanding the law for rental accommodation and gas safety inspections. A light bulb moment came about and we thought it might be useful to summarise the position and set out the landlord’s responsibility in this regard!

As a landlord, you’re responsible for the safety of your tenants. The Gas Safety (installation and Use) Regulations 1998 deal with the landlords’ duties to make sure gas appliances, fittings and flues provided in rental properties are safe for tenants.

If you let property equipped with gas appliances you have three main responsibilities:

  1. Maintenance – Pipework, appliances and flues must be maintained in safe condition and gas appliances should be serviced in accordance with manufacturers instructions. If they aren’t available, make sure you have them checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
  2. Gas safety checks – These are required every 12 months and must be carried out on every gas appliance/flue.
  3. Record – A record of annual checks must be provided to your tenant within 28 days of the check being completed or new tenants before they move in. Landlord’s must keep copies for 2 years.

As a landlord, you also have to ensure that all installation, maintenance and safety checks are carried out by a gas safe registered engineer!

If tenants have their own gas appliances that you have not provided, then you are responsible for the maintenance of the gas pipework but not the actual appliance.

If you’re rental property is due for a gas safety check why not give The Organised Cleaning Company a call and our property maintenance department will be more than happy to send out a gas safe registered engineer for your annual check up and certificate! Contact us on 020 7458 4433 or email us on iprefer@organisedcleaning.com.