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

Top tips

Here are some tips to alleviate common problems that you may face throughout the year.

  1. Empty bins regularly, especially food waste bins
  2. Keep your home well ventilated to prevent mould forming
  3. Check window and door latches and seals for signs of wear and tear

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.


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.

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.


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