Looking after your home

Photo of a couple in their kitchen.

This page has lots of useful tips and guidance should your home be in need of a little bit of care.

We hope you love your home and we ask that you take good care of it while it's yours.

Kevin Wilson, Housing Services Manager

Tips to look after your home

Requesting permission

Tenants are encouraged to improve their homes. However, before carrying out any alteration to the property, you must contact Harbour Homes to request permission.

This includes showers, satellites, laminate, and kitchen alterations. After we receive a request for permission, a letter will be sent to confirm whether or not the works can go ahead.

If works are carried out without permission we may ask you to return the property to the original condition or recharge you the cost to carry out the works.

Satellite TV installations

You must gain permission before installing a satellite dish. If you don’t have our approval for an installation, we may ask you to remove it, or we may remove it ourselves and charge you for the work. If your property is in a conservation area, you’ll also need planning permission.

Please note if you are in a recently built property we will not permit installation of an individual dish, as there will already be a Virgin Media and/or Sky connection available. If you are having connection issues, please contact our Customer Advice Team.

Laminate

Harbour Homes will only give permission to install laminate flooring if you are on the ground floor. As with any flooring within your property, it is your responsibility to uplift the laminate if access is required beneath the floor to repair.

Property alterations or kitchen/bathroom replacement

If you would like to make any alteration to the property, please complete the Alterations and Improvements Application Form and return to Harbour Homes before any work begins.

Next, an appointment will be made for an officer to visit the property and discuss what works you would like to take forward. The plans will need to be in line with our design guide and installation should be carried out by a qualified and competent engineer. Any installation you put into the property is your responsibility to maintain and repair.

Pets are great! We’re happy for you to have a well-behaved pet in your home, but please do let us know first. You’ll need our written permission before adding a pet to your household. There are a few other conditions outlined in your Tenancy Agreement too, so be sure to check that first.

Our aim is to help ensure that we proactively manage the potential risks and promptly diagnose and prevent issues which may arise from damp, mould and condensation within your home. We are committed to meeting the needs of our customers and providing you with a home that are safe, warm and dry.

Damp and mould: The facts

It’s something we’re all likely to face at some point, and the colder months can make it more challenging to tackle damp and mould in our homes. The good news is, there are steps we can take to prevent it.

What causes damp and mould?

Too much moisture in your home is one of the main causes of damp and mould indoors. Moisture sources include condensation from cooking, drying clothes, or using the bath or shower. These activities are unavoidable, but we can take steps to remove excess moisture from inside our home.

Other causes of damp may be more serious, including building defects or rising damp from the ground (more common in older buildings). Floods or leaking pipes can also lead to damp. In new-build flats, it’s sometimes possible for damp to appear while the building is still drying out.

Where is it found?

Mould and damp can appear anywhere in your home. Common places are around windowsills, in bathrooms and kitchens, or in cupboards where damp coats and shoes may be stored. Mould can grow on all surfaces, not just walls and ceilings.

Is mould dangerous?

Mould is unpleasant and can trigger allergic reactions and irritation if you touch or inhale its spores. Common reactions include sneezing, eye irritation or a rash.

How to prevent damp and mould

The first step in preventing damp and mould is to identify where excess moisture is coming from. Once you know the source, you can take steps to reduce moisture in the air or request a repair if the source is coming from a leak.

Ways to remove excess moisture from the air:

  • Leave space between furniture and outer walls.
  • Use extractor fans in kitchens and bathrooms and wait until all visible moisture has cleared before turning these off.
  • Close doors when cooking or showering.
  • Cover pans when cooking.
  • If drying clothes indoors, open windows from time to time to release excess moisture. Keep the room door closed to keep the rest of your home warm when doing this.
  • Keep trickle vents open on windows as much as possible, particularly if you notice lots of condensation on your windows in the morning.

By following these guidelines, you contribute to the well-being of your home and create a healthier living space for yourself and your family.

Tackling mould

Small occurrences of mould, such as around your bath, sink or on window frames, can be removed safely at home. Wear protective gloves and consider using a face mask and goggles when using mould and mildew remover. If you have lots of mould growth in your home, this is more serious, and you should let us know immediately.

If you encounter any problems related to dampness, mould, or condensation, please report them to our maintenance team as soon as possible. We will, where appropriate arrange to inspect your property and undertake any necessary repairs and offer advice to minimise the risks.

Quick action can prevent minor issues from escalating into more significant problems.

At Harbour Homes, we value your comfort, and we are here to support you in maintaining a safe and enjoyable living environment.

If you think you have a serious damp or mould issue in your home, please contact us on 0131 554 0403 or email hello@harbour.scot so that we may arrange to inspect your home and take the appropriate measures to rectify the situation.

Pests such as rats, mice, wasps, bedbugs, hide beetles, ants, fleas and cockroaches can spread diseases, damage homes and aggravate allergies. Treatment for most of the common household pests and minor infestations are the responsibility of the tenant.

Responsibilities of the tenant

  • Treating and paying for infestations by common household pests in their property, excluding bedbugs, cockroaches and rats.
  • Advising Harbour Homes of any infestation so that we can assess the cause and advise responsibility.

Responsibilities of Harbour Homes

  • Treatment of rats in individual properties and communal areas.
  • Treatment of bedbugs in individual properties and communal areas.
  • Treatment of cockroaches in individual properties and communal areas.
  • Treatment of infestations or pest problems of any other kind including mice in communal areas or where the fabric of the building may be damaged or compromised.
  • Blocking up holes in properties where mice are gaining access.

Advice on dealing with mice and rats

Rodents present a serious health risk, particularly in kitchens or where children play.

Some signs that you may have rats or mice in your property include

  • Scratching noises in walls or ceilings
  • Shredded materials
  • Damage as mice gnaw wood, plastic, cables etc.
  • Distinctive, ammonia-like smell
  • Droppings 3-7mm, spindle-shaped – found along walls or in cupboards

How to prevent rats and mice infestations

Where possible, store food in strong, airtight containers and regularly clean under cupboards, cookers and other appliances to remove opportunities for mice to feed.

Treatment

Mice Infestations:

  • Poison and traps can be used to treat mice within the property and placed behind kickboards, pipe-boxes or other inaccessible places for children and pets.
  • Humane traps can also be set to catch mice and allow their release back into a suitable environment away from the property.

Advice on dealing with ants, fleas etc.

If you’ve found a few ants or fleas in your home, there are steps you can take yourself to help elevate the problem:

  • Proprietary sprays and powders can be used to treat infestations of ants and fleas etc within the property.
  • Clear up and remove food residue from worktops and tables
  • Securely put away all foodstuffs

Note: traps and sprays etc can be purchased from any DIY store or Supermarket but should only be used as recommended by the manufacturer.

Further advice can be obtained from the City of Edinburgh Council website.

For safety reasons, we carry out an annual Gas Safety service on all our gas-equipped properties. The service ensures gas appliances, including your boiler, are working correctly, efficiently and above all safely. This is a legal obligation, and it is essential that we can access your property to do this. We send out advance notice of the suggested date, but this can always be rearranged if it is not suitable for you.

The annual service includes:

  • Inspecting and servicing your gas boiler and/or your gas fire and back boiler, noting any repairs that are needed.
  • Carrying out a visual inspection of your gas cooker and noting any repairs that are required.
  • Inspecting access hatches to ensure the flue is intact and undamaged.
  • Carrying out a tightness test to the gas meter to ensure there is no gas escape.

The gas safety checks must be carried out every 12 months, however checks can only be carried out if you have gas in your meter. If there is no gas in the meter, it will be capped until there is.

If you do not allow access before the required due date we are legally required to force entry to carry out the service. Please do not leave it until the forced entry as you will be recharged for the cost of the locksmith and any locks that are changed even if you are in.

For further information on gas servicing please visit the Gas Safe website.

We would recommend that you arrange contents insurance for your home. We have insured the structure of your home (along with the fixtures and fittings), but this does not cover your personal belongings against the risk of burglary, fire or water damage, and certain types of accidental damage.

The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) has a contents insurance scheme available to social housing tenants – application forms are available at our office or can be downloaded by clicking the button below. Alternatively, you may want to try a comparison website to view other providers’ schemes.

SFHA Contents Insurance Application Form