Council housing handbook
Your new home
Chapter 1: Your new home
In this section:
When you move into your new home there are a lot of things you must remember to do. In this part we have listed some things you may need to arrange now, if you haven’t already done so.
- Tell the gas, electricity and water companies when you are moving in and arrange for supplies to be connected. This is part of your obligation as a tenant. See below: Notes about utilities
- Take meter readings before you contact your utility supplier. The gas company will need two days’ notice to connect your supply. See below: Notes about utilities
- If you wish, arrange for a telecoms company of your choice to take over or install phone, internet or cable television services. If you have a new telephone number, please tell us what it is.
- Tell your doctor and dentist about your change of address
- If you receive any benefits, tell the appropriate office about your change of address. You may have to tell them if there are any changes in your circumstances.
- Tell the Council Tax team about your change of address
- In some homes we supply a television signal via a shared aerial system. In all other properties, apart from the Railway Village, tenants are responsible for the television signal. If a television aerial has been fitted we will leave it for you to use but if it develops a fault now or in the future you will have to arrange for it to be repaired yourself at your own expense. If you intend to install a TV aerial or satellite dish you may need our permission. Please note: If you live in sheltered housing, flats or within the Railway Village, we provide TV reception with the property.
- Contact TV Licensing to get a TV licence or transfer your existing TV licence to your new address.
Website: TV Licencing website
- If you wish, you can ask Royal Mail to redirect your post to your new home. You can arrange this at any main post office or go to the Royal Mail website.
Notes about utilities
As a tenant, you are responsible for ensuring that all utility companies are notified when you move in. This includes gas, electric and water companies.
Sometimes we receive requests from utility companies to provide them with certain information regarding the occupancy of an address. We are required to provide this information.
Please note: Make sure a Gas Safe registered tradesman installs any gas appliances in your home. Before carrying out any changes or alterations to your property, you must get written permission.
To find out who currently supplies electricity to the property you're moving into, contact Scottish & Southern Electricity Network. Their phone number is 0800 048 3516,
To find out who supplies gas, call the meter number helpline on 0870 608 1524. Please note that calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company's access charge.
Your water supplier is Thames Water. You can call them on 0845 920 0888 or 01793 366011.
Keys and fobs
We do not keep copies of the keys to your property. If you want an extra key cut, you may need written permission from Housing.
Please contact your housing officer.
Some blocks of flats have key fobs for the door entry systems. See chapter 6: Living in blocks of flats or maisonettes - Key fobs
You are responsible for replacing any keys/fobs that you lose. If you have tenant contents insurance your policy may cover the cost. If your keys/fobs are stolen, we will replace the locks and provide new keys/fobs, free of charge, but you must first report the theft to the police and give us the crime number they give you. See chapter 3: Maintenance and repairs - Prioritising repairs
You are responsible for insuring the contents of your home against loss or damage.
We strongly recommend that you arrange insurance to cover the cost of replacing all your possessions.
We have linked up with a reputable insurance company so we can offer you insurance at specially negotiated rates.
We will not be able to help you to replace lost or damaged items unless the loss or damage was caused by our negligence.
The main benefits of this insurance are:
- Items are replaced on a ‘new for old’ basis
- Items are covered against loss or damage from fire, theft and flood
- Stolen keys are replaced
- Freezer contents are insured
- It provides public liability insurance to cover you against claims made against you
- It covers tenants legal liability and the cost of temporary alternative accommodation
You may need to pay an additional premium if you want the insurance to cover approved home improvements you have made. This is because the council will not be responsible for their repair and maintenance.
Your insurance with us is only valid if your rent payments are up to date.
More information: Home contents insurance for your council home
Decorating your home
As an SBC tenant, you are responsible for decorating the inside of your home and for its maintenance, by making sure that it is always in a reasonable condition.
We may give you a ‘paint allowance’ voucher when you move into your new home. If so, you will receive an order form and information pack relevant to the size of your property with all the details on what you can receive at no cost to you.
Decorating the inside of your home is not always easy, especially if you haven't done it before. It can be exciting but can also cause problems if it isn't done correctly or safely.
Before doing any major work, always remember to let your Housing Officer know in case you need permission for the work you wish to carry out. You should also seek professional advice for things that you are not sure about.
If any damage is caused due to the decoration work you have carried out, the Council won't be able to repair this for you. However, the videos below give some very basic DIY tips on decorating your home which you can follow. This should help to ensure no damage is caused while you are decorating, and will also provide guidance on keeping you safe.
Heating and ventilation
You need to make sure your property is heated and ventilated correctly to prevent damp and mould issues. See chapter 3: Maintenance and repairs - Condensation
We do not provide furniture, but you may be able to get help with furnishing your home from other agencies, depending on your personal circumstances.
Introduce yourself to your neighbours. They may be able to provide local information if you are new to an area.
Please be considerate to your neighbours while you are getting your home set up by not causing a nuisance, such as by doing DIY late at night.
If you do not have your own parking space, you may park anywhere it is legal to do so.
You must not spoil the environment (for example, by churning up grass verges).
If you have space for a driveway in your garden, you may be able to get permission to install a drive at your own expense. See chapter 3: Maintenance and repairs - Home alterations and improvements
Parking caravans and boats
You need to stand your caravan or boat on a hard surface, preferably separate from any driveway used for parking a car. If you need to construct this you will need our written permission. See section 3: Maintenance and repairs - Home improvements and alterations
Repairing your vehicle
You can carry out minor repairs to your own vehicles on an approved hard standing.
Please be considerate to your neighbours and the environment when you are carrying out repairs by keeping everywhere as tidy as possible and getting rid of used or old materials (such as oil and tyres) in the proper way. If you keep causing a nuisance, we can stop you from repairing cars.
If you do not have a garage attached to your home but are in need of one, we rent out garages in many areas of the borough.
If you want to find out about renting a garage, visit the webpage: Council garages and parking bays
You will have a separate weekly charge for renting a garage from us.
Homeline community alarm system
We run a community alarm system called Homeline. The service provides an 24-hour alarm system for older people or people who require additional reassurance to live independently. The alarm system links your home to the council's control room, who will co-ordinate a response in an emergency. This may include sending a mobile Homeline officer to help you.
There is an additional weekly charge for this service. However, you may be eligible for a grant to help pay if you are on a low income.
Phone Homeline on 01793 464430 for more details, or visit the webpage: Homeline
Sheltered housing comprises flats and bungalows designed for older people and people with disabilities. They provide a secure home for those who want to stay independent, but have the comfort and security of knowing that help is at hand if they need it.
We have over 30 sheltered schemes throughout the borough. Schemes have a team that will perform a range of duties relating to the building and provide support and advice to residents.
Each scheme has facilities such as a communal lounge, garden and laundry. These are available for all residents to use at any reasonable time. Many schemes organise regular social events.
All schemes are connected to the council's control room, who can assist residents in emergencies.
For more information, contact housing on 01793 445503 or visit the webpage: Find out about sheltered housing
Neighbourhood Wardens are employed to work for and with tenants and leaseholders in our neighbourhoods.
Their main role is to engage with local communities and promote respect for people, property and the environment, and to encourage resident involvement in Housing.
The Neighbourhood Wardens aims are to:
- be a friendly and highly visible presence on the estates
- remove litter, fly tipping and graffiti
- participate in community projects and encourage residents to care for their neighbourhood
- provide a caretaking service in high rise blocks and inspect communal areas of other blocks of flats monthly
- involve young people through the Young Warden scheme
- listen to tenants and leaseholders and ensure they get appropriate help and advice
- help tenants and leaseholders by removing unwanted items
For more information or to contact your Neighbourhood Wardens for assistance, see the webpage: Contact housing services