Helping you in your home

Every home needs a touch up once in a while to keep it an enjoyable and safe place to be. Here’s a quick guide to the main things we get asked about looking after your home.

Ways we can help keep your home ship shape

Contents insurance

We have negotiated a Home Contents Insurance
scheme designed specifically for our tenants.

Garden maintenance

Our garden maintenance service can help whether you you need regular garden maintenance or simply a one off cut.

Tenancy frequently asked questions

Can I make improvements to my home?

You may make improvements, alterations and additions to your home, including external decoration, fixtures and fittings, as long as your get our written permission and all other necessary approvals (for example, planning permission or building regulations approval) beforehand. If in doubt, please ask us first.

When you move out we may ask you to pay the cost of putting right any alterations you have made to the property without our permission.

Can I take in lodgers and sub-let part of my home?

You may take in lodgers as long as you do not grant a sub-tenancy or exceed the number of people allowed to live in your home.

As long as you first get our written consent, you may sub-let part of your home. We may give consent subject due to reasonable conditions. You must not grant a sub-tenancy of the whole of your home.

Who is responsible for emptying my bin?

Durham County Council are responsible for emptying all the household waste bins in County Durham. They will provide you with a suitable container and collect your rubbish on a designated day.

We are committed to ensuring you live in a safe, functional and comfortable environment. Here’s a quick guide to the main things you can do to stay safe.

Tips and advice to keep you safe


Asbestos materials are safe if left undisturbed. If you have received permission from us to carry out alterations and you require advice before you start any work on materials, such as art-ex on ceilings or walls or in heating cupboards, etc, please contact us.

Electrical safety

If your electricity isn’t working and you think an appliance caused the problem:

  • Disconnect that piece of equipment;
  • If your home has a fuse box, turn off the mains switch and check that the right fuses have been used; 
  • If your home has circuit breakers rather than a fusebox,turn off the mains and reset the circuit. Don’t keep replacing a fuse, or resetting the circuit breakers without correcting the fault.

If the problems continue and you can’t find the fault, please contact us on 0800 587 001. If you get an electric shock from either a switch or a socket, please contact us immediately. You must not use the switch or socket, and you should turn the circuit off at the fuse box or circuit breaker.

Our top tips for electrical safety are:

  • Limit the number of items you plug into one socket;
  • Check flexes and plugs regularly to make sure they are not damaged;
  • If fuses keep blowing or you get an electric shock from an appliance, get a qualified electrician to check the equipment for you. If it’s an appliance we have provided, please contact us immediately.

Fire Safety

Whilst it is not possible to cover all eventualities, the following advice is useful to follow to make you and your family safer:

  • Do not block your hall or stairways. It is important that you and your family can make unrestricted use of these in emergencies;
  • Test your smoke alarms every month;
  • Have a family escape plan and practice it with your family. This will increase your chances of escaping the fire safely. Go over the rules with your family and practice the fire drills. This will help everyone to remember them in case of a fire emergency.
  • Decide on a meeting place a safe distance from your home and make sure that everyone (including children) understands that they should go there and wait if there is a fire.

Gas safety

Faulty gas or solid fuel equipment can be dangerous. It leaks an odourless gas called carbon monoxide, which if breathed
in, can kill.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen if:

  • The appliance was not installed correctly;
  • The equipment isn’t working properly;
  • The appliance has not been checked for safety and maintained regularly;
  • There isn’t enough fresh air in the room;
  • Your chimney or flue is blocked;
  • Unqualified trades person installing/servicing the appliance.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include tiredness or drowsiness, headache, chest pains and stomach pains. If you notice yellow or orange flames, soot or stains around the appliance or your pilot light often blows out, this could mean a problem – make sure you let us know immediately.

If you think a gas appliance in your home isn’t working properly, don’t use it. Never cover up appliances or block the vents. And don’t cover or block the outside flues.


To keep you safe, we will service all homes with gas or solid fuel at least once a year. Please make sure you let the
engineer in to do this important job. This work is essential to ensure your appliance works safely and efficiently and we would ask that you make every effort to allow access to the engineer when your service is due. If you fail to allow access we may have to consider legal action to gain access to your property.

Smoke alarms

If you have a smoke alarm in your home, test it monthly to make sure it is working. You must also keep it clean and dust free,
or it may not work if there is a real fire.

Smoke alarm testing and maintenance

You should press the test button on your smoke alarm once a month to ensure it is working. When the low battery warning signal sounds, you should replace the battery immediately. The low battery beep will sound every minute for up to 30 days when the battery needs replacing.

It is your responsibility to ensure regular cleaning of the detector and changing of batteries, where applicable. If you think your smoke alarm is faulty, please contact us.

Smoke alarms for the ‘Hard of Hearing’

Working with Social Care Direct, we can arrange for an initial assessment for any tenant who may have a hearing impairment and to make a recommendation to the fire service to provide a specialist smoke alarm. For more information please contact your Housing Officer.


Some useful security tips:-

  • Keep your doors and windows locked.
  • If an unknown visitor calls at your home, always check their identity. All Cestria staff and partners carry identification. Never let anyone in unless you are sure who they are.
  • If your house is empty, use timer lights or ask a friend or relative to pop in and check on it.
  • Never leave your keys under the doormat or in any other obvious place
  • Always lock your garden shed
  • Log serial numbers of your personal belongings, especially televisions, DVDS, cameras and computers.


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