FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Everything you need to know about your house and tenancy

After all the excitement of moving in with your mates, unpacking and rearranging your bedroom, you might just realise you have no idea how to work some of the household appliances.

Or you may come home after a lecture one day to find a colony of wasps has taken a fancy to living with you and you don't know what to do. This page is FAQ HQ. Choose from Moving In, During Your Tenancy or Moving Out to find the answers you need. If you have questions about your rent, go to our Rent Advice page.

MOVING IN

When can we collect our keys?

30th June. But I may have them ready for you a day earlier. I will send an email to you with all the details as soon as I’ve made my key-collecting-day plan, don’t worry!

Who should collect our keys?

Any member of your group. Please note that I issue the keys to one person in your group only. It’s then their responsibility to distribute them to you.

Is there parking? Do I need a permit?

You can park without a permit on Ash Grove, Brudenell Mount and Manor Terrace, but Moorland Avenue tenants need residents' permits for parking on the road. You can apply for a free permit from Leeds City Council's website.

Can we leave some of our stuff in the house over summer to save us taking it all home?

Not before 30th June, when your contract officially starts. As soon as the previous tenants move out, I bring in my repairs and decorating team and we spend the between-contract period working on the house.

If your belongings are there during that time, I get complaints about it being in the way. And, of course, it's in danger of being accidentally thrown out, especially if it's in a black bin liner!

I know this from experience, so that's why I now say you can't bring your stuff to your new house until 30th June. I do hope you understand.

If you're staying on in the house for another year, we run the contracts together and, in this case, of course you can leave your belongings in the house over summer.

Can I bring some of my own furniture?

Yes. However, in the case of soft furnishings like armchairs or sofas, they must, must, must comply with fire regulations and have a fire certificate, so do check before you load up that car! Also, you must take it with you when you move out or I'll have to charge you for disposing of it.

Please note that you can use your own furniture providing you do not store my furniture in the basement. Should you move furniture out of your room into another room, you will need to make sure you replace it at the end of your tenancy. The exception to the rule is desks and wardrobes; do not move them out of rooms - they're mostly too big and heavy and difficult to move around!

Can I have a new [piece of furniture]?

Each room should have a desk, chair, bed, wardrobe, bedside table, curtains, carpet, and set of drawers. Please check your inventory and report any missing or broken items and we'll find, fix or replace them.

Can I decorate?

No, sorry. When you move in, all bedrooms, living rooms, kitchens and bathrooms should be in reasonable decorative order already and there should be no Blu-Tack marks anywhere in your house.

If previous tenants have foolishly ignored my golden rule and there are Blu-Tack marks on your walls when you move in, do not wait to report them! Log a maintenance job straight away or we won't know it wasn't you and you could end up losing some of your deposit.

Can I put pictures, posters and photos on my walls?

Yes, but ONLY using Gripping Stuff poster tape. You'll have found a roll of this in your room when you moved in. If you run out, buy some more. Don't use Blu-Tack (or any other colour of 'tack') or Sellotape or sticky pads because they stain the wallpaper and you'll be charged for the cost of redecorating.

You may also use up to 6 picture hooks in your bedroom (you may find some nails/picture hooks there already).

Can I put up a shelf/mirror?

No, but we'll put one up for you if you drop us a line. Please note there will be a small charge for making good the walls when you leave should you decide you want to take the shelf/mirror with you.

Can I have a coat hook on the back of my door?

No, but you can have one on the wall if you drop us a line. (Hooks cause too many issues on doors.)

Do you supply us with a toaster, kettle and any other small appliances we need?

No. I only provide a microwave and a vacuum cleaner. It's a good idea to decide between you who is going to bring the small appliances for you to share.

What do we do about the bills?

If you signed up for Unihomes' bills package, you can skip to the next question. Otherwise, you and your housemates are responsible for paying all the bills during your tenancy. You can either shop around and decide which utilities suppliers you want to use, or you have the option of our bills package, which covers electricity, gas, water, TV licence and internet.

If your group decides to take care of bills on your own, have a look at price comparison sites or check out www.moneysavingexpert.com.

Your water supplier is Yorkshire Water. You'll need to contact them too. When you contact the suppliers, tell them that your contract started on 30th June (that's the date from which you will be liable for paying the bills) and give them your meter readings.

Even if you're all away all summer, there will still be what's known as a 'standing charge' to pay. This is standard practice for utilities companies and is one of those annoying facts of life as a householder.

Should we use a ‘split the bills’ package service?

Package services are a great idea because they give you peace of mind and save you falling out over money, which isn't good for the soul! However, it is a more expensive option than dealing with all the individual utility companies yourselves, so you'll need to balance how much it costs against how much you love an easy life. Is it worth it? You need to discuss this together.

Alternatively, if you have Excel or equivalent on your laptop, here's a step-by-step guide to setting up a spreadsheet for your household bills. You could also open a household bank account and each set up a standing order from your personal accounts to automatically pay £10 a week into it. Then, you could set up a direct debit for each of your utility bills to ensure they’ll all be paid. Alternatively, nominate someone to pay the bills out of the account every month.

Who is the current energy/internet supplier?

The chances are the previous tenants were on our bills-inclusive package via Unihomes. If not, they will have chosen their preferred suppliers - in which case, see the Citizens Advice Bureau's website for guidance.

Whichever suppliers you choose, make sure you send regular meter readings when they prompt you so that your bills reflect what you're actually using. Otherwise they'll estimate your bills and you could find yourself paying more than you need to! Of course, if you choose our inclusive bills package option, you won't have to worry about this.

What about water? Are we on a meter? Do we pay or do you? And who to?

You'll be responsible for paying the water bills during your tenancy (unless you choose our bills package option), and you'll need to contact Yorkshire Water to get your payments set up. 35 Ash Grove is the only one of our properties with a water meter, although this shouldn't be used as an excuse not to shower or wash up!

Do we have to pay council tax?

Not if you're all students. If you do get a bill, you just need to apply to the government for an exemption.

Why do we have to pay bills when we're away all summer? It's not fair!

Even if you're away all summer and not using any gas or electricity, there will still be what's known as a 'standing charge' to pay. It's standard practice for utilities companies, who need to cover the cost of maintaining the energy infrastructure.

Do you provide contents insurance?

No. I provide buildings insurance to cover the fabric of the building in the event of fire, water damage and if, for example, you were burgled and the doors were damaged. Your personal possessions are your responsibility and you'll need to sort out your own contents insurance to cover them.

Your parents/guardians should be able to help you with this, and you may even be covered on their home insurance policy, but you would need to check. If not, shop around - insurance companies offer special policies for students.

Can I have a 5-lever mortice lock for my room for insurance purposes?

Most insurance companies will not insist on this for internal doors in HMOs (houses in multiple occupation). If they do, you'll need to switch insurance companies.

Can we have more locks on the external doors?

No, the locks are specified by fire regulations to enable fast exit in the event of a fire.

What is my room code/house alarm code?

Log in to our tenant portal and select the option for retrieving your forgotten code.

Why is there no TV aerial in the house?

There's no aerial (or satellite dish) because I don't like having a whole load of holes drilled in the roof or walls. I prefer cable, because at least the holes they drill are low-level holes!

Virgin Media is one of the main fibre optic suppliers in the area, so they have better speeds, but there is no perfect supplier. Why not give them a ring to find out about adding a broadband and TV package?

Do you provide a TV?

No, you'll have to bring your own or stream to your laptop. Or chip in to buy a communal TV for the lounge. You should be able to pick a cheap one up second hand. Just remember, you'll need to take it with you, sell it or recycle it at the end of your contract. Do not leave it in the house or I'll have to charge you for its disposal.

Do you pay for our TV licence?

No. If you're bringing a TV, you'll be responsible for buying your own TV licence. Unless you choose our bills package option, in which case, yes, it's included.

DURING YOUR TENANCY

Can I change the code on my room lock?

Unfortunately not, My maintenance team members have the code lists so they can get in to do repairs. That’s why I can’t change them.

What day are our bins emptied?

Input your postcode here to find out. And here's a handy guide to what goes in what colour of bin.

Can I have a pet?

Goldfish, yes. Anything else, no!

Can we put a satellite dish on the house?

No.

Can I smoke in the house or in my room?

No. All houses are strictly non-smoking. I strongly advise you not to break this rule - both for the health and safety of you and your housemates, and for the preservation of your deposit. If the property smells of smoke at the end of your tenancy, we'll need to charge you for fumigating it.

Can you change my light bulb?

My radiator isn't working properly/at all. What should I do?

A: Is your radiator...

a) Cold at the top but warm at the bottom? It needs bleeding. Please log a repair.

b) Cold, but others in the house are warm? Make sure the dial with the numbers on it is turned up and that the knob on the other side is turned to the 'on' position, if it has one.

c) Cold, and so are all the others in the house? Check the thermostat timings and temperature, and check that the boiler is switched on. You'll find the location and instructions for your thermostat with the rest of your house info - see opposite. Still can't solve the problem? Log a repair.

I’ve set off the fire alarm – how do I turn it off?

Turn the key to reset it, then call Colin Hopps on 07785 533519 and he'll rectify the fault.

Deposit-watch: there's a £40 charge for callouts if you break the alarm glass when there is no fire!

We’ve had a break-in! What should we do?

Call the police. They will give you a number for an emergency firm to board up broken windows/door if it is out of hours. Please advise us if you have a break-in. They are very rare, as our houses have good security. However, you will need to remember to keep doors and windows locked, alarm the house when empty and never leave the property en-masse in a taxi, or advertise that you have all left to taxi drivers. Preferably, get a taxi from the corner of the street.

Do we have to do our own gardening?

No, I have gardeners, but you are responsible for keeping it free of rubbish and not damaging it (e.g. with tinfoil barbeques on the grass.)

Our heating/appliance/
plumbing has stopped working. What should we do?

For problems with your central heating, hot water, plumbing, drains and appliances, including the cooker, fridge, freezer, washing machine, tumble dryer, dishwasher, microwave and bathroom fans log in to report your repair.

PLEASE NOTE: If your shower is overflowing, the first thing you should do is check your shower trap. It's a job you need to do regularly because the drain gets full of hair and gunk. Yes, it's icky, but it's not one that requires a plumber... unless you want to pay his call-out charge personally, of course!

Help! We've got a pest infestation! What should we do?

Most of Leeds City Council's pest control officers will deal with rat and cockroach infestations free of charge because they are classed as prejudicial to health. However, they normally charge for dealing with wasps, mice and flea infestations, as these are not seen as immediately detrimental to health.

Mice can be attracted into houses by overflowing bins and food scraps. Fleas can be brought into the house by pets. If this is the case, any charges I incur may be passed on to you.

The Council doesn't deal with woodlice. You can deal with these common little creepy-crawlies yourself with woodlouse powder. Still need to report a problem? Go to Leeds City Council's pest control web page.

We've got a broken window. What should we do?

Call Kirkstall Glazing directly on 0113 231 9706 or 07973 266623. They will also deal with emergency boarding-up if necessary, for instance, if you have been burgled.

Our Henry has lost his suction. What should we do?

Normally, your Henry (or Hetty) will only lose suction for one of three reasons: the bag is full, the filter is clogged or there's a blockage in its system. Here's how to diagnose the problem:

1. Undo the clips to the side of the machine.

2. Remove the filter and the bag (if a bag is being used).

3. Replace the head and make sure it is securely clipped to the drum.

4. Unscrew the hose so you are left with just the motor head and drum.

5. Start up the machine on ‘high’ power and place the palm of your hand against the inlet of the drum. The suction should feel very strong at this point. If it does, it means there is a blockage in the system between the hose and the floor tool.

6. Re-attach one accessory at a time, i.e. hose first and try the suction at the end of the hose; then the first straight stainless steel tube etc. It will become apparent where the blockage is because you will notice a loss in suction when the accessory in question is attached.

The most common blockages are found in the elbow joint of the floor tool or in one of the threads of the hose. Try dropping a marble or equivalent through the hose/pipes to dislodge a blockage or, if it's in the elbow joint, use a flexible wire or similar.

If, after you've tried all these steps, your Henry is still not happy, report him for repair.

We think we've got a gas leak, what shall we do?

Open the windows. Do not turn any electrical appliance on or off! Don't smoke or use anything that could generate a spark.

Go outside the house and use your mobile phone to call the National Gas Emergency Service line on 0800 111 999. You will need to tell them the following information:

1. Your address and postcode
2. How many people are in the property
3. Where the smell is coming from
4. Your name and contact telephone number.

Follow the instructions they give you. They may ask you to turn off the gas supply at your house by locating your meter, which will either be in your basement or outside the front or back door. If you are unsure how to turn it off, ask for their guidance on the phone or, alternatively, do not attempt to turn off the gas yourself and wait for the emergency engineer to arrive.

HELP! We've got the mother of all emergencies happening and it's not covered by any of the above.

Okay. Don't panic. Call 07976 747586 during daytime hours. From 10pm to 7am, call 0333 0007805 and quote ref no PPSA001967.

moving out

When does our contract end?

The 21st June, or the 14th June if you're on a 50-week contract.

When do we have to be out of the house?

By 6pm on the final day of your tenancy. The last of you to leave the house should ensure that:

1. The heating thermostat is turned down.

2. The fridges are all turned off (assuming you've already defrosted them and cleaned them out!)

3. Wedge the fridge and freezer doors open.

4. Take a note of your final gas and electricity meter readings.

5. Ensure that the property is secure, with all windows shut, burglar alarm set and doors locked.

What should we do with our keys?

When you vacate the property, leave your key in an envelope with your name on it on the dining table.

If you're the last person to leave, post your key (in an envelope with your name on it) through the letterbox after you've locked up. On no account should you return your keys by post or put them through the letterbox at a later date.

You'll be charged £10 for a replacement key plus £100 per set thereafter for changing the locks.

Can I leave some of my things in the house or basement and pick them up later?

No, sorry... I can't be held responsible for their safekeeping when I have tradesmen and contractors going in and out of the property during the changeover period. If your things were in the way of works, they could get broken or thrown out by accident.

Can I stay a few extra days?

No - for the same reason as above.

What can we do to make sure we all get our full deposits back?

If you follow everything on my moving-out essentials list to the letter, your deposits will undoubtedly be returned to you in full. You'll have to clean the house thoroughly from top to bottom. That doesn't just mean your room, it means all the communal rooms too plus the halls and staircases.

To make sure you don't accidentally overlook anything, download my handy cleaning checklist, print it off and divvy up the jobs fairly among you and your housemates.

After your final clean-up, empty the vacuum cleaner and fit it with a new bag. During your tenancy, cleaning filters and removing blockages in the vacuum are your responsibility, so saying that the vacuum cleaner wasn't working is not an excuse for not cleaning up! You should have reported it for repair during the year.

I know there are far more fun things to do at the end of term than cleaning, but think of it as 'paying it forward' to the next group of housemates who'll be moving in. It's good karma!

Download moving-out task list

Download cleaning checklist

What shall we do with the stuff we can't take with us?

Don't just throw it in the dustbin. Recycle it! Read Leeds City Council's info for students on recycling. And also check out Leeds Student Union's ideas for collecting all your surplus foodstuffs and good stuff that can be sent to charities.

When will we get our deposits back?

I will send you a deductions list approximately 10 working days after you leave the house. Once any deductions are mutually agreed, I’ll release the deposit to your lead tenant within 30 days, and they are then responsible for returning your share. So, if you leave the house looking like a showhome and respond to my emails swiftly, you'll get your maximum deposit back promptly.

However, if you leave the house like a bombsite, immediately jet off backpacking to Outer Mongolia and don't pick up my emails for three months, the chances are you'll be waiting for quite some time to get your money back. It's down to you! Don't forget to keep me updated with any change of address for your lead tenant or I won't be able to return your deposits.