Looking after your home

Every home needs a touch up once in a while to keep it an enjoyable and safe place to be. Here’s a quick guide to the main things we get asked about looking after your home.

Making your home your own

Is my home insured?

Residents are responsible for insuring their personal belongings, furniture and decorations against fire, theft, vandalism or burst pipes. To make it easier for our residents to get home contents insurance, we have negotiated a home contents insurance* scheme designed specifically for our residents.

Karbon has its own insurance on all of our properties, but this does not cover the contents inside.

Visit our contents insurance page to learn more.

*Please note there are other insurance providers that can be approached for home contents insurance cover.

Can I make improvements to my home?

Before you undertake any improvements or alterations to your home you must write to us asking for permission. You must not start any alterations until you have received a letter from us saying you can go ahead. We will normally allow most alterations and we may be able to help by providing you with some guidance on how to do it.

When will you update my home?

Karbon carries out a regular repair schedule to all homes, updating the likes of kitchens, bathrooms, windows, doors and boilers. If your home is included in the planned maintenance programme, you will be notified early in the process that a surveyor will call at your home to assess what work will be required. Visit our planned maintenance page to learn more.

How can I prevent mould and condensation?

Condensation happens when warm air meets a cold surface – like when a bathroom mirror steams up if you have a shower. We get lots of calls about damp and condensation, particularly in the winter months, but there are simple things you can do to reduce it yourself. Visit our condensation and mould page to learn more.

Can I take in lodgers and sub-let part of my home?

You may take in lodgers as long as you do not grant a sub-tenancy or exceed the number of people allowed to live in your home.

As long as you first get our written consent, you may sub-let part of your home. We may give consent subject due to reasonable conditions. You must not grant a sub-tenancy of the whole of your home.

Who is responsible for emptying my bin?

Your local council is responsible for emptying all the household waste bins. They will provide you with a suitable container and collect your rubbish on a designated day.

How can I get rid of unwanted furniture?

If you've got furniture or goods you don't want - don't throw them away! Contact us so we can point you in the direction of a local scheme that can take your unwanted items and find new homes for them.

Orange Box North East is a community interest company which recycles and sells good quality furniture, at affordable prices, to people on low incomes. Orange box staff will collect any single items you have for free. To arrange a collection, simply call 0191 224 2116.

The Furniture Reuse Network also helps those in need access furniture, white goods and other household items at affordable prices. They collect a wide range of household goods to pass on to people in need.

If your unwanted items cannot be recycled, you can find details of waste disposal sites or bulky item collection services on your local authority website.

Tips and advice to keep you safe

We are committed to ensuring you live in a safe, functional and comfortable environment. Here’s a quick guide to the main things you can do to stay safe.


Asbestos was widely used in the construction industry from the 1950s through to the mid-1980s. It can be found in many buildings and was used in a variety of building materials. Left undisturbed, asbestos poses little danger; therefore it should not be cause for concern. However, we would like to remind you not to make alterations to your home (including drilling into walls, ceilings and floors) without prior approval.

Electrical safety

If your electricity isn’t working and you think an appliance caused the problem:

  • Disconnect that piece of equipment
  • If your home has a fuse box, turn off the mains switch and check that the right fuses have been used
  • If your home has circuit breakers rather than a fusebox, turn off the mains and reset the circuit. Don’t keep replacing a fuse, or resetting the circuit breakers without correcting the fault.

If the problems continue and you can’t find the fault, please contact us. If you get an electric shock from either a switch or a socket, please contact us immediately. You must not use the switch or socket, and you should turn the circuit off at the fuse box or circuit breaker.

Our top tips for electrical safety are:

  • Limit the number of items you plug into one socket
  • Check flexes and plugs regularly to make sure they are not damaged
  • If fuses keep blowing or you get an electric shock from an appliance, get a qualified electrician to check the equipment for you. If it’s an appliance we have provided, please contact us immediately.

Fire Safety

While it is not possible to cover all eventualities, the following advice is useful to follow to make you and your family safer:

  • Fit a smoke alarm and test it regularly
  • Take care when cooking. Don’t start cooking if tired, and don’t leave a cooker unattended
  • Plan an escape route and make a bedtime check
  • Don’t overload electrical sockets
  • Don’t smoke when you’re tired or going to bed. The majority of cigarette related fires occur when falling asleep
  • Use candles carefully. Again, if feeling tired, extinguish candles before falling asleep
  • Contact your Fire and Rescue Service for a home fire safety visit.

If you live in a high-rise building, a block of flats or a sheltered scheme special fire procedures will be in place – you will be told about these when you move in.

Gas safety

Faulty gas or solid fuel equipment can be dangerous. It leaks an odourless gas called carbon monoxide, which if breathed in, can kill.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen if:

  • The appliance was not installed correctly
  • The equipment isn’t working properly
  • The appliance has not been checked for safety and maintained regularly
  • There isn’t enough fresh air in the room
  • Your chimney or flue is blocked
  • Unqualified trades person installing/servicing the appliance.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include tiredness or drowsiness, headache, chest pains and stomach pains. If you notice yellow or orange flames, soot or stains around the appliance or your pilot light often blows out, this could mean a problem – make sure you let us know immediately.

If you think a gas appliance in your home isn’t working properly, don’t use it. Never cover up appliances or block the vents. And don’t cover or block the outside flues.


To keep you safe, we will service all homes with gas or solid fuel at least once a year. Please make sure you let the engineer in to do this important job. This work is essential to ensure your appliance works safely and efficiently and we would ask that you make every effort to allow access to the engineer when your service is due. If you fail to allow access we may have to consider legal action to gain access to your property.

Smoke alarms

If you have a smoke alarm in your home, test it monthly to make sure it is working. You must also keep it clean and dust free, or it may not work if there is a real fire.

Smoke alarm testing and maintenance

You should press the test button on your smoke alarm once a month to ensure it is working. When the low battery warning signal sounds, you should replace the battery immediately. The low battery beep will sound every minute for up to 30 days when the battery needs replacing.

It is your responsibility to ensure regular cleaning of the detector and changing of batteries, where applicable. If you think your smoke alarm is faulty, please contact us.

Smoke alarms for the ‘Hard of Hearing’

Working with Social Care Direct, we can arrange for an initial assessment for any tenant who may have a hearing impairment and to make a recommendation to the fire service to provide a specialist smoke alarm. For more information please contact your housing officer.


Some useful security tips:

  • Keep your doors and windows locked
  • If an unknown visitor calls at your home, always check their identity. All Karbon Homes staff and partners carry identification. Never let anyone in unless you are sure who they are
  • If your house is empty, use timer lights or ask a friend or relative to pop in and check on it
  • Never leave your keys under the doormat or in any other obvious place
  • Always lock your garden shed
  • Log serial numbers of your personal belongings, especially televisions, DVDs, cameras and computers.

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