Council housing handbook

Living in blocks of flats or maisonettes

Chapter 6: Living in blocks of flats or maisonettes

Neighbourhood wardens carry out regular inspections of flats to ensure that fire, health and safety measures are maintained. If you have an issues with your block, please contact your Neighbourhood warden.

Consideration for your neighbours in adjoining flats

Noise can travel easily between floors in blocks of flats, so you shouldn't play loud music loudly or cause other nuisances such as slamming doors.

Different tenants will have different lifestyles. For example, some people work shift patterns, others are at home during the day, some are younger than others. Where this is the case, please try and respect. We cannot stop 'normal' noises such as washing machines, footsteps and children playing.


Refuse is collected every fortnight and should be placed in the bin area/store for your block. Some flats have recycling centres. If you are provided with a recycling box these should not be kept in shared areas and be put out on the appropriate collection day. Do not leave fly tip waste in the shared areas as it will be dealt with as fly tip waste and you could be prosecuted.

Faults and health and safety issues

If you see a fault or hazard in a shared area, please report it to housing on 01793 445503.

Don’t leave it to somebody else!

Key fobs

If you have a security door that is electronically operated, we will give you two keys or fobs for the main door and two keys for your flat. You must pay for any extra fobs or keys that we agree to let you have and return them when you end your tenancy. If you fail to return the keys or fobs, we will charge you for their replacement.


If a fire breaks out in your flat, you should:

  • leave the room straightaway, along with anyone else, and close the door
  • tell everyone else in your flat about the fire and get them to leave, and close the front door
  • if the fire alarm is not sounding, operate the nearest ‘break glass’ call point
  • contact the fire and rescue service on 999, when it's safe to do so

If you have to leave the building, use the stairs, not the lift if there is one.

Each flat has been designed to be fire resistant, so if there is a fire in another part of the block, you should:

  • stay in your flat and close wall windows and doors
  • wait for instructions from the Fire and Rescue Service or council officer
  • if heat or smoke is affecting your flat, leave the flat closing all windows and doors behind you
  • if you have to leave the building, use the stairs and not the lift

Flats with a full evacuation policy

There are a few blocks of flats that do not or cannot follow the ‘stay put’ policy because they are not able to achieve the required standards of separate compartments. Fire notices will advise you what about this.

In these buildings ‘simultaneous evacuation’ or 'full evacuation' policies are in place. This means you must safely exit the building when the fire alarm is raised.

Flammable gas or liquids

You must not use any form of heating that burns propane, paraffin or any other flammable gas or liquid. You must also not store these substances in your flat.

Closed-circuit television (CCTV)

Some flats and areas have CCTV to monitor security and safety. The system is monitored by staff and they are able to identify people acting anti-socially. Data protection principles apply to the pictures recorded by the system.

More information: CCTV in Swindon

Door security

The security of the building is the responsibility of each resident as well as the Neighbourhood Warden. Unwelcome visitors often get into the block by following another resident entering the block. To avoid this, please follow these simple rules:

  • Make sure the main door closes behind you, especially in high winds
  • If you don’t know the person, ask them to use the entry phone to call the flat they are visiting rather than just allowing them into the block
  • Report any unwelcome visitors to the warden, your Neighbourhood Housing Officer or in an emergency the police
  • If you receive a call on the entry phone from someone you do not know, do not let them in

Shared areas

This includes all stairways, landings, drying areas, lifts, bins and shed areas.

Each resident is responsible for helping to keep them clean and tidy. For residents' safety, you are not allowed to smoke in these areas and nothing should be stored or kept in them. This includes:

  • bikes
  • pushchairs
  • mobility scooters

We will remove any items we find in a shared area and charge the person responsible for the cost of doing so.

Cleaning shared areas

Please take your turn in cleaning your part of the shared areas. Arrange with neighbours a rota for this work. Contact your Neighbourhood Warden or Housing Officer to sort out any disagreements about cleaning.

Drying areas

If your flat has its own drying area you must not store any items in the drying area. 

Slip hazards

If you have spilt something in a corridor or stairway, please clear it up. If there are any spillages or slip hazards, contact your Neighbourhood Warden.

Bulky items

The council operates a bulky waste removal service. For a fee, we will collect items such as: 

  • armchairs
  • settees
  • cookers
  • washing machines
  • fridges or freezers

Please note: If you do not clear your bulky items, or make an appointment for them to be removed, we will charge you more for removing the goods.

There is no charge if you take your bulky items to the household waste recycling centre.


The balconies are there for your enjoyment.We have fitted nets around balconies to deter pigeons, which can spread disease and cause a nuisance by fouling areas on and around the blocks.

Please do not tamper with the nets as they are there for your health and safety.

Throwing objects

We will take legal action against any tenant who allows objects to be thrown or dropped from their flats because of the danger and injury this can cause.

Television reception

The television satellite and aerial system in the high-rise blocks will give you access to digital satellite (Sky) TV, digital terrestrial TV and Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB) radio through the three-way outlet in your home. You will need appropriate equipment to view the television. This should be plugged into the outlet socket marked ‘TV’. Tenants with FM radios or DAB radios should plug their units into the outlet marked ‘Radio’.

Bikes, motorcycles and mobility scooters

Bikes, motorcycles and mobility scooters must not be kept in communal areas. If you take a bike to your flat, be careful not to scuff or mark the walls and lifts. Motorcycles must not be taken or kept in the building as the fuel is a fire and explosion risk. If they are found in a communal area they will be removed as soon as possible.

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