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It may be obvious, but this How To guide is aimed at providing most of the answers to the most commonly asked questions. Every year, students face the same issues, and all the answers to successful renting are in this handbook.

This publication is put together by Southampton University Students Union and the University of Southampton. If you need more help, then you have two options, either pop into the Students Union Advice and Information Centre (SUAIC) or the Universitys Accommodation Service. Details of both can be found on the back cover of this booklet. This handbook is also available in alternative formats on request. Email:

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Our gu h ke you t e will ta id


Where do I start? The DOs and DONTs of renting How much rent should I pay? Cons and Contracts How do deposits work? How do I check out a house?

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What is communal living like? Am I really a member of the community? Moving in! Who is responsible for repairs? What is the Private Housing Service Love your pavements and manage your waste & recycling What is Harassment?

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How do I stay safe at home? How do I stay safe and keep my stuff safe? Help! Im being evicted What happens when my tenancy/contract ends? How do I contact SUAIC or the Accommodation Service?



what is the SASSH housing list and why should i use it?
The Students Union and the Accommodation Service are committed to promoting quality and safety in the private housing sector. The partnership initiative between the University of Southampton, Southampton Solent University and Southampton City Council has introduced the Southampton Accreditation Scheme for Student Housing (SASSH). The Scheme aims to encourage close co-operative working between the University, landlords and tenants, giving formal recognition to properties meeting or exceeding the minimum standards. The Scheme also looks to further improving private rented accommodation in Southampton. You can find a copy of the SASSH Property Accreditation Standards in the landlords section of Property listings for the following academic year begin to be published in January. It has been noticeable that certain agencies and landlords have been keen to encourage lettings and speculation long before the first listing as it gives them greater opportunity to charge higher rents and increase their profits. DONT feel pressured into finding a house too soon. There are enough properties to go round, so please dont panic about finding a house. Last year some landlords were advertising empty houses after the academic year had started! This does not happen every year and you should not be complacent but it does show that there is time to make a sensible choice. To tackle early letting of properties and the resulting inflated rents the SASSH housing list is released on from January onwards, and are updated constantly throughout the year. All private rented properties advertised through the SASSH programme must have a current gas safety certificate and all shared properties must also have current electrical safety certificates and be fitted with hard wired smoke detectors. Students should note that the University is not in position to recommend particular off campus accommodation and has no facilities for inspecting private rented properties.

when should i start looking?

January - September
The SASSH Housing List is advertised on from 10th January 2011. Youve got a few months after that to check out several houses, and landlords - find the best one for you! The Accommodation Service and the Students Union Advice and Information Centre (SUAIC) stay open throughout the summer vacation.

summer rent
Many students agree to pay rent from July onwards. The earlier you sign up the sooner you will start paying rent. If you are paying rent you have a right to live in the property. If the property is going to be subject to renovation over the summer period or the property is not available for you to live in, you should not be expected to pay rent. Seek assurances in writing that any works will be completed by your agreed move-in date. If you are going to leave any belongings in the property whilst builders have access ensure that they are completely secure and consider whether you have them insured. Most tenancy agreements will require you to pay rent for 52 weeks, however many landlords are open to negotiation on rent for the summer vacation. It is always worth discussing a reduced rent for this period if you do not intend to stay in the property before the start of term - landlords will sometimes agree up to 50% although a 15-25% reduction is more common. 4



Hand over money without getting receipts. Be rushed into making a decision. Its better to lose your (apparently) dream house than to spend a year living with noisy neighbours, damp, and an unscrupulous landlord. Pay retainers. You could find you still lose the property, with no guarantee of getting your money back. Agree to move into a property in a poor state of repair. Dont trust everyone all the time! They seem like a nice person is not a good reason to give them 300+ a month.

Check the name of your landlord with the Accommodation Service - they can advise you if they know of any previous problems. Inspect properties thoroughly. Get your contract checked by SUAIC or the Accommodation Service before signing it. Put in writing (and keep a copy of) any requests for repairs, furniture, etc. Get written confirmation from the landlord of any promises to carry out repairs, provide furniture, etc. Ask for a copy of the Gas Safe inspection certificates for all gas appliances at the property.

where should i look?

SASSH Housing List Properties available for the 2011/12 letting year will be published on from Monday 10th January 2011. We recommend that you look here first! Notice boards Postgraduate students can use the notice board in the Staff Club. Beware of unauthorised notices in halls of residence and around the campus. Some landlords, whom the Accommodation Service will not advertise, try to find tenants in this way. Word of mouth Many students find accommodation by asking others about the house they will be vacating. This is also a useful way to find out about your prospective landlord/lady. 5

Spot Checks Southampton City Council staff make spot-checks on properties that are advertised through the SASSH in order to make sure they meet or exceed the minimum standards for advertising with the Scheme. If you feel you have been misled about the standard or condition of your property, please let the Accommodation Service know immediately.

Agencies Be very careful about using accommodation agencies and do not hand over money just to register your name and get a list of addresses; agencies may only make a charge if they find you accommodation. Beware of some agencies which charge inflated fees for drafting a Tenancy Agreement (Contract), producing an inventory, etc. There have also been cases of agencies withholding unreasonable amounts of money from deposits at the end of tenancies. The Southern Daily Echo Carries advertisements for accommodation, but it is usually for immediate occupation. Most accommodation is advertised in Thursdays Echo and it is advisable to purchase the early editions.

what if my landlord lives in the same house?

People who share living accommodation, such as a kitchen or bathroom, with a landlord (e.g. in lodgings) are excluded occupiers and can be evicted without a Court Order. This means that a landlord can evict a lodger with as little as a weeks notice. On the other hand, you can also leave at short notice, which is useful if you are looking for accommodation elsewhere. If you live in lodgings and have any difficulties with your landlord, seek advice from the Accommodation Service or SUAIC. Do not sign a fixed term agreement. If you have separate accommodation and only share a hallway or similar, you may be a licensee or a tenant. You should also seek advice if you live with a member of the landlords family.

what should i do about meeting the landlord at the house?

If you are meeting the landlord at the property try to get there a few minutes early so you can have a look around the outside of the house. Check the roof, gutters, windows, pipes, etc. Keep a record of each property you look at.

Dont go to look at a property on your own or after dark; always take someone with you and let a friend know where you are going and when you are expected back.
REMEMBER to use the viewing checklist on the backpage of this guide when viewing houses.

rent levels

can my landlord increase the rent?
Your rent can only be altered if your agreement ends and a new one is given OR if you apply to a Rent Assessment Committee (RAC) to have your rent reassessed, which must be done within the first six months of the agreement. Your rent cannot be increased during the period of time covered by your Tenancy Agreement (Contract) and the landlord does not have the right to evict you if you refuse to pay a higher rent. Always seek advice before going to the RAC from SUAIC or the Accommodation Service.

The average rent in shared accommodation during 2009/2010 was approximately 65 - 75 per week plus all bills. Landlords are allowed to advertise rooms at any rents, however, those landlords who ask for rents above this guideline rent would be expected to provide superior quality accommodation and be able to explain why the rent demanded is at an inflated level. REMEMBER you will still need to budget for all your household bills (eg. water, gas, electricity, phoneline, broadband, Sky, TV licence).

paying the rent

Your tenancy agreement should state: How much rent you must pay and when. What is included in the rent, e.g. water rates? To whom the rent should be paid. Its important to get proof of the rent you have paid. If you dont, your landlord could evict you for rent arrears and you would not be able to prove that you had paid. If the landlord refuses to give a receipt you could pay rent by postal order, keeping the counterfoil OR open a separate bank account used only for rent payments. It is your responsibility to get your rent to your landlord, not his responsibility to collect it. If your landlord fails to collect the rent or refuses to accept it and you cannot get the rent to him, you should write to him stating that you wish to pay the rent; keep a copy of the letter, open a separate bank account and pay your rent into it. If your landlord tries to evict you for non-payment of rent he will not be able to do so if you have clearly set the money aside on a regular basis.

summer rent
Always try to negotiate a reduced rent during the summer vacation. If you pay reduced rent (e.g. half rent) you will still be entitled to live in the property during the vacation. If you pay less than half rent as a retainer or a very nominal rent, you may not have the right to live in the property during that time.

what about my tenancy agreement (contract)?
Students moving into private rented accommodation will almost always have Assured Shorthold Tenancies. If the type of agreement you have is not mentioned in this leaflet, contact the Accommodation Service or Students Union Advice & Information Centre for further information. If you dont understand the Tenancy Agreement (Contract) dont sign it. The University produces SASSH approved Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreements (Contracts) for use by tenants and landlords of properties advertised through the Accommodation Service. If your landlord doesnt already have one they are available from the Student Services Centre free of charge. If your landlord doesnt use this get their contract checked by SUAIC or the Accommodation Service.

what is an assured shorthold tenancy agreement?

The tenant must be an individual occupying the property as their only or main home. The landlord, or any of his family, dont share with you. Can be for any period of time. Can be written or verbal. Although assured shorthold tenancies can be created verbally, students are advised to insist on a written agreement to avoid subsequent confusion over what has been agreed. If a verbal agreement is made, tenants have the right to later ask for a written statement confirming the date the tenancy began, the level of rent and the date(s) on which it is payable, the length of the tenancy and the tenants right to ask for a rent review. The landlord must provide this statement within 28 days of receiving the request. If you do not have a written agreement you will have the same rights and obligations as an assured shorthold tenant. In addition you and the landlord will both be bound by the terms of the verbal agreement. For example, if you agree that you will pay 300 rent on the first of every month to the landlord and fail to do so, you will be in breach of the agreement. It is not recommended that you enter into a verbal agreement. Even though you are legally bound by the agreement it is almost impossible to prove what was agreed.


You will normally have to pay a deposit when you sign a tenancy agreement (Contract). This is usually the equivalent of one months rent. The deposit is held by the landlord against damage you might do to the property or its contents, unpaid bills or rent. Some, or all, of your deposit may be retained if you move out before the end of the agreement, or without giving adequate notice. If you are asked to pay any other money in advance (eg a premium or key money) get advice from the Accommodation Service or Students Union Advice & Information Centre before paying.


If your landlord does not protect your deposit or send the appropriate information then they may be ordered by court to pay you three times the total amount. SUAIC have prepared a deposit receipt slip, which is attached to the back cover of this guide. It will help your landlord to give you the information you need about your money. You can find out more by visiting SUAIC, The Accommodation Service or at If you dont agree that your landlord or agent should have kept all or part of your deposit, or you disagree with some of the costs that they have taken out of it, then the tenancy deposit protection scheme your landlord or agent has used will offer a free service to help resolve disputes. Information on what you need to do if there is a dispute will be contained in the information your landlord or agent will have given you at the start of your tenancy.

is your landlord protecting your deposit?

From 6th April 2007, when you pay a deposit, your landlord or agent must protect it using a government authorised tenancy deposit scheme, providing that the landlord does not share the house with you and your annual rent for the house is up to 25,000 (from October 2010, the scheme will also include properties of annual rents between 25,000 and 100,000). You will be protected by the scheme if you are: renting a home from a private landlord or letting agent on or after 6 April 2007, and your tenancy is an assured shorthold tenancy (this applies to most new private tenancies), and you are paying a deposit (not the same as rent in advance). It doesnt matter whether it is the tenant, or someone else such as a parent, who provides the money for the deposit. The law says that your landlord must inform you which scheme is protecting your deposit and provide other important information within 14 days of the deposit being paid.

are you protecting your deposit?

Landlords are entitled to withhold money from your deposit to pay for damages you have caused, unpaid bills or rent owed. Deductions should not be made for normal wear and tear to the property or its contents. When paying your deposit:

Keep all of these items in a safe place Use the deposit receipt slip attached to the checklist on the rear cover of this guide. Get an inventory (a list of the contents and condition of the property) when you move in that is agreed by the landlord and tenants and keep a copy. If your landlord will not provide an inventory, produce your own and have it witnessed and signed by a third party (such as a friend). SUAIC can provide you with a sample inventory. 9

Take photographs of the property when you move in. Keep some form of proof to show when the photographs were taken. Keep records of any repairs and replacements you pay for, with receipts or estimates. Maintain the house properly during the tenancy, i.e. carry out regular cleaning, and try not to cause any damage! Clean thoroughly all cookers, fridges, toilets, showers and baths at the end of the tenancy - the cost of getting these things cleaned commercially could reduce your deposit considerably. Make sure you get receipts for all the rent you pay and any other money you pay to the landlord. Keep bills for gas, electricity, water, telephone, to show they have been paid. When you move out, do another inventory check against the one you did when you moved in, with your landlord or an independent witness. If deductions are made from your deposit, you should be provided with a written statement showing what the deductions are for, with copies of receipts and estimates.

joint or separate tenancies?

If you share a house or flat with other tenants and all your names are on one tenancy agreement, you are joint tenants. As a joint tenant your responsibility for rent and rent arrears is shared with the other joint tenants. If one tenant leaves, or does not pay their rent, the landlord can seek to recover the rent from the remaining tenants as well as, or instead of, the person who has moved out. If you share accommodation with other people but each of you has a separate tenancy agreement which specifies which room you will occupy, each of you is responsible for paying your share of the rent only and can give notice separately.

NEVER sign a Tenancy Agreement (Contract) on behalf of another person - if they change their mind you could be left liable for their rent.

withholding rent
Withholding your last months rent as security against your deposit not being returned is a breach of your tenancy agreement and your landlord could take legal action to recover the money. Seek advice immediately if you are threatened with legal action.


what do i do if i need to find a replacement tenant?

Seek advice from the Accommodation Service or SUAIC. Negotiate with your landlord (the Accommodation Service and SUAIC can advise you on how to approach this). Advertise through the Message Boards on Advertise on Advertise through Word of Mouth.

If another person replaces you as a tenant you should ensure that proper steps are taken to ensure that you are no longer held liable for rent, i.e. that you assign your tenancy over to the new tenant, or that the landlord provides a new contract for the remaining and new tenants. Tenants who wish to leave before the end of their tenancy should seek advice before doing so. REMEMBER - if you are tenants who are joint and severally liable, all of you are responsible for the entire rent until a replacement tenant is found. Whilst the landlord may seek to recover the rent from the remaining tenants, the remaining tenants also have a right to recover this rent from the tenant who has left.

what if i want to leave before the end of the tenancy agreement (contract)?
Most students in the private rented sector have agreements for 9 or 12 months. They are not normally entitled to end the tenancy early unless there are particular circumstances, such as serious breach of the agreement by the landlord, there is a clause in the contract allowing tenants to leave early or the landlord voluntarily releases the tenant from the contract. If none of these conditions apply, where a tenant does move out before the end of the contract s/he remains liable for the rent until the end of the contract or until another tenant takes his/her place. It is in all tenants best interests to work cooperatively with each other to find a replacement tenant. Where there is a joint tenancy (i.e. all the tenants have signed one contract) the remaining tenants have to be consulted about the replacement tenant; where tenants have individual contracts, the remaining tenants do not have this right, but it is socially responsible to try to ensure that a discussion takes place.


Subletting is the term used to describe a tenant renting all or part of her/his accommodation to another person. If your tenancy agreement states that you may not sublet without your landlords permission you should write to them, asking for permission to sublet. Your landlord should reply in writing and should give reasons if permission is refused. If your tenancy does not mention subletting you should get your landlords permission in writing to do so. Seek advice before entering into a sublet agreement.

landlords name & address

If your Tenancy Agreement (contract) does not include your landlords name and address, ask them to provide it. If they refuse do not sign and seek advice from SUAIC or the Accommodation Service. All tenants have a right to know the name and address of their landlord: failure to provide this information is an offence. If you are dealing with an agent, before you sign the Tenancy Agreement (Contract), find out who is responsible for the property eg for repairs. If it is the landlord, then you have a right to know his/her address. If you do not know your landlords name and address you can find out by: Asking in the Accommodation Service (only if the landlord is on SASSH list). Inspecting the Electoral Roll at the nearest public reference library. Inspecting the open Land Register Remember - get your Tenancy Agreement (Contract) checked by SUAIC or the Accommodation Service.

what are guarantors?

Some agencies may ask your parents or guardians to act as guarantors. If a parent signs their name as a guarantor of their son/daughters potential rental debt, and the tenancy is joint between all occupiers of the property, then they will find that they have agreed to be guarantor of the debts of all the other people covered by the agreement. If youre not happy about finding a guarantor, many owners do not require one, so consider renting somewhere else. Alternatively you may suggest to your landlord/agent that you will pay for a rent insurance package (usually around 120). You will find a number of insurance companies offering such options, in this way if you fail to pay the rent, the insurer will cover it. If possible, make a written agreement with your landlord which clearly states that your guarantor will only be liable for your portion of the rent. SUAIC can provide you with sample wording.

REMEMBER do not sign anything before you have read it thoroughly.


who to live with?


Choosing who you want to live with can be a hard decision. The obvious choice is people you like, but remember that liking someone you see for a few hours a day is not the same as liking someone who is around in your house all the time. Think about interests and lifestyle; are your potential housemates vegetarians/smokers/quiet/late night people or early risers? Think very carefully about living in the same house as your partner. It can put a lot of pressure on you, them, and your housemates. Remember too that if you do fall out with the other people in your house and want to move out, you will probably have to carry on paying rent until another tenant replaces you; seek advice if this situation arises.

If you are paying money to another tenant, e.g. towards a bill, get a receipt or make sure you can prove you have paid the money (e.g. through paying by cheque). This may seem unnecessarily formal, but arguments over bills are common causes of problems. Note that if you are using a telephone company other than British Telecom, you may be required to sign an agreement for a minimum period of time; it should be possible to get an agreement for 9 months. If a large item of equipment is to be bought/hired, always consult everyone in the house. If you hire a TV, the license should be in the hirers name.

household decisions
Be sensible about heating - not using it is false economy. A poorly heated house is not only a health hazard for the occupants, it also encourages condensation leading to damp and mould (this is different from damp caused by structural problems, which is the landlords responsibility). If you want to have a visitor, ensure that it is OK with the others in your household. If a visitor stays so long that s/he seems to have become resident, you may be in breach of your contract as well as annoying everybody else in the house.

how many people should i share with?

Most students move into shared houses after their first year at University. Most houses for students are for 4/5 people to share. There are some larger houses available but living with more than four others creates more opportunities for disagreements! Read the communal living section in this handbook.

the dreaded housework

This is often a cause of friction between housemates, as some individuals are more conscientious than others. If you want to live healthily and comfortably and avoid difficulties with your landlord, then regular cleaning is advisable. Rotas may work, particularly if you want to monitor the activities of the most reluctant housemate.

household bills
It is advisable for each tenant to put their name as the account holder for one bill - this prevents one person having to deal with and potentially be liable for all the bills. Utility companies do not tend to put all the tenants names onto a bill and if they do will still take the first name as the point of contact and the person liable.

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YES YOU ARE. Being a student in Southampton means that you automatically belong to the wider city community. This comes with some responsibilities, to yourself, your neighbourhood and the city.

noise & parties

Noise can be a big cause of friction between housemates and between tenants and their neighbours. Noise in your house will probably sound almost as loud next door. The Environmental Health Service is responsible for dealing with noise nuisances; prosecution can result in a possible 5,000 fine! Contact EHS on 023 8083 2606. IF YOU ARE HAVING A PARTY: Arrange the party for a Friday or Saturday when neighbours are less likely to have to get up early the next day. Let your neighbours know in advance about the party. Dont advertise the party openly on Facebook! Make sure the invitations are for your friends only. Dont try to get 300 people into a 2 bedroom house - keep to a reasonable number that you can cope with. Try to keep guests inside rather than standing around in the garden or street. Keep the noise level down, especially after 11pm. Try to ensure that your guests leave the area quietly and do not make any use of your neighbours garden!

in the neighbourhood
Free at last?! Most student accommodation in Southampton consists of terraced and semi-detached houses, your lifestyle is going to affect your neighbours so try to be considerate of their needs too. The following points will help to avoid the most obvious causes of disputes: Introduce yourselves to the neighbours when you move in. Dont make a lot of noise late at night (i.e. after 11pm). Be thoughtful about parking. Some areas have restricted parking anyway, but local residents expect to be able to use the space in front of their own house. Do you actually need your car here? Try to keep the outside of your house looking tidy by, for example, occasionally washing windows and curtains, cutting back rampant hedges and grass, sweeping pathways and paved areas, clearing up litter, putting your wheelie bin off the pavement etc. REMEMBER - keep on good terms with your neighbours and they will probably be willing to keep an eye on your house while you are away. Southampton is one large community and students are an integral part of it. When returning home after an enjoyable evening out, please remember that you are not the only ones that live in this community. Remember how annoyed you get when you are woken in the middle of the night by a false fire alarm in halls. Travel quietly and safely, traffic cones and renditions of The One and Only are not that funny at 3am! 14

what about when i move in?
If any repairs need doing inform the landlord in writing. Make sure you keep a copy of your letter for your records you will need it as proof later. Get a rent book or other form of rent receipt. Have an inventory signed by the landlord. Note any defects and damages on the inventory and make sure the landlord signs it. Take either photographs (digital pictures are better because they can be emailed) or video footage of the property and its contents, in case there is any dispute over their condition when you move out. If there is a telephone, inform the company of a change of user. Get a TV license. If you have a joint tenancy agreement then you will need only one license to cover all the TV sets in the house; however if you are on separate individual tenancy agreements you will need to ensure you have a license to cover each individual set. There are hefty fines for not having a license that can be over 1000. If you are paying the water rates, notify the company of a change in occupants. Arrange insurance for your belongings. Check with the landlord that all the keys have been returned by the previous tenants. Take meter readings and inform the relevant utility providers to change the names on the bills from the date your tenancy begins.

council tax
Notify the Council Tax department at the City Council of a change in occupants and make sure they know that you are all full-time students. You will need to obtain a letter from your School Office that shows you are a full time student and therefore exempt from council tax. Students who live in

a shared house are considered joint and severally liable for council tax purposes. The practical implications of this should mean that in a shared house, with a non-student occupant, the bill will appear in the name of the occupant who is not exempt. Also, that the non-student is therefore individually liable. If you have any enquiries or concerns talk to SUAIC. 15



requesting repairs to be carried out
Landlords are under no legal obligation to carry out repairs until they have been given written notice of the repairs needed. It is therefore essential that you put requests for repairs in writing as soon as possible. If your request is initially made verbally, follow it up with a letter - keep a copy and keep any letters that are sent to you. You should allow a reasonable length of time for repairs to be done: 21 days for non-essential repairs, 1 - 2 days for emergency repairs, e.g. blocked drains. If the repairs are carried out, make a note of the date, what was done, whether the work was done adequately and if any outstanding repairs remain.

landlord's responsibilities
Under the 1985 Landlord & Tenant Act, Section 11, landlords are responsible for keeping in good repair and proper working order the structure and exterior of their property and installations of the property. This includes Roof, walls, floors and windows Gutters, pipes and drains Baths, toilets, sinks and basins Electrical wiring, gas piping, fixed heaters and water heaters. Landlords have a legal responsibility to carry out these repairs even if your tenancy agreement says that they do not. Landlords are not responsible for any installations purchased by or belonging to the tenant.

enforcing your rights

Never just withhold rent as a way of forcing your landlord to carry out repairs - you could be evicted if you have rent arrears or have legal action taken against you to recover the money owed. If your landlord ignores your request for repairs to be carried out you can Contact the Private Housing Service. Contact details at the back of this booklet. Enforce your legal rights as an individual, which may involve taking legal action against your landlord. Seek advice from SUAIC or the Accommodation Service.

tenants' responsibilities
Tenants have an obligation to look after the property. This includes Taking reasonable steps to ensure that they and their guests do not damage the property or contents. Undertaking minor day to day maintenance, e.g. replacing light bulbs. Ensuring that fixtures and fittings are adequately cleaned. Taking reasonable steps to protect the property during periods of absence by making sure the property is secure and all sockets and taps are switched off. (See page 22 for guidance on water supply, pipes and vacations). Tenants are not responsible for repairs needed through fair wear and tear. 16

pest problems
If you have problems with mice, rats, fleas etc., contact the Public Health Service, who are able to deal with pest control issues. Tel: 023 8083 2531.


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The Private Housing service at the council can take steps to get repairs done in rented accommodation in many situations; they do not charge tenants for the assistance they give. Full details of the problems in your property will be taken, so that an assessment can be made about the seriousness of the defects and potential for impact on your health and safety. Where it is considered that serious hazards exist or are likely to exist in your property, Private Housing will arrange to inspect the accommodation. Where less serious hazards exist, advice, guidance and information will be provided, but the property will not be visited. If your property is inspected, Private Housing will determine what works are required to improve conditions and will advise your landlord, informally at first. If no works are carried out within a reasonable period, your landlord will be served with legal notices, which will specify the works required and a date for completion. If the work is still not carried out, the council may arrange for the works to be carried out at the landlords expense and/or consider prosecuting the landlord. If the repairs are urgent Private Housing can immediately carry out minimal works to make the property safe, if the landlord is unable or unwilling to do so. The landlord is later charged for the repairs. If drains and toilets are blocked, the council can require them to be unblocked within 48 hours. If your heating/ hot water system breaks down during cold weather, Private Housing can take action to get repairs carried out. The council can provide you with a copy of any notice served on your landlord, so that you know what work should be done.

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what action can i take?

If your landlord fails to carry out repairs and you do not wish to involve the council, you could consider getting the repairs done yourself and deducting the costs from your rent. If you take this course of action you can only deduct the actual costs of repairs so you should always ensure that you have a clearly laid out bill listing all works done and charges made; you cannot make deductions for compensation. You can be evicted for being in rent arrears so it is vital that you seek advice before withholding any rent and follow this procedure carefully: Make requests for repairs in writing and keep a copy of your letter. Allow a reasonable period of time for repairs to be done. If the repairs are not done, inform the landlord in writing of your intended course of action, and allow a further reasonable period for the landlord to comply with his obligations. Obtain three estimates for the repairs and send copies of these to the landlord with a final declaration of your intended course of action. Have the repairs carried out by the firm giving the least expensive estimate. If you carry out or arrange repairs that are done badly, youll be legally responsible for the consequences. Send a copy of the invoice to the landlord and request reimbursement. If no money is received, deduct the cost of the repairs from future rent. It may be possible to take your landlord to court to get him to carry out repairs; you could also ask the court for compensation for inconvenience or if your possessions have been damaged. Always seek advice before starting legal action and be aware that you will have to produce evidence to support your case.

houses in multiple occupation (hmos)

Most shared properties are classified as HMOs, for example, where a house has been converted into bedsits or if the property is shared by 3 or more people. Special regulations apply to HMOs and local councils have clear powers to ensure that the property is safe and is managed correctly. If the house you live in has 3 or more levels and 5 or more tenants, it will require a licence from Private Housing. If you think your house should be licensed, but isnt, please contact Private Housing on 023 80832606.


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a message from southampton city council

For many of you it will be the first time you have lived away from home or outside halls of residence and the first time you will be responsible for dealing with your own waste. Southampton City Council wants to help you get to grips with responsibilities you now have as a resident of Southampton. As a tenant you, and not the landlord, are responsible for making sure all your household waste is disposed of properly and legally. Everyone living in the house is responsible for the bins. This includes putting the correct waste in the bins, putting them out for collection and returning them back to your property after they have been emptied. Our enforcement officers patrol the streets to check if bins are being put back into gardens. If bins are repeatedly left on the street you could be issued with a 100 fine. PLEASE FOLLOW THE ADVICE BELOW: Put your wheeled bins at the edge of your property or on the pavement on the day of collection by 6.30 a.m. Bring your wheeled bins back in on the day of collection. The blue lidded wheelie bin is for recycling and you should only put in this bin: - paper/cardboard - plastic bottles - food and drink cans PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU PUT ITEMS IN LOOSE AND NOT IN BAGS. YOUR BLUE LIDDED RECYCLING BIN IS COLLECTED EVERY FORTNIGHT.

The green lidded bin is for general household waste and this is collected each week. To check what day your collection is visit: and input your post code on the top right hand side of the home page or phone Actionline 0800 5 19 19 19 Bulky waste such as mattresses and furniture must not be left on the pavement and should only be left at the front of your property on the day you have arranged to have it collected. Southampton City Council provides a collection service and the cost is only 25 for up to 10 items (there is an additional charge for fridges/freezers). Phone Actionline 0800 5 19 19 19 to organise a collection. You can dispose of large bulky items free of charge at the Household Waste Recycling Centre called Rubbish Revived at Endle Street, which is located between the football stadium and Ocean Village. Dont forget to get in touch with reuse charities such as SCRATCH on 023 8077 3132, who will donate furniture for a small charge of 10. Their requirements vary from time to time. Please call first and say what item you want to donate. Allow 2 weeks for collection. Leaving waste in your garden and illegally depositing waste on the street can result in fines. Please remember to be a good neighbour by keeping your street and garden clean and tidy. Dont forget if you need any information about managing your waste and recycling you can: Telephone or email Actionline on 0800 5 19 19 19 Visit Southampton City Council website Speak to The Students Union Advice & Information Centre. By working together we can look after the environment and make Southampton a nicer and safer place to live in. 19 17


If a landlord is attempting to force tenants to leave their accommodation early or is trying to stop them exercising their legal rights, this may be considered harassment. Any of the following constitutes harassment: Behaviour intended to interfere with the peace or comfort of the occupier Persistent withholding or withdrawal of services (without good reason) The landlord knows or has reasonable cause to believe that what they are doing is likely to make the occupier leave, or not use, part of the premises the occupier is entitled to use. In practice this may include behaviour such as cutting off the water supply without good reason, threatening or abusive behaviour, constant visits without warning, sending in builders without warning or at unsociable hours, or preventing you having guests.


If talking does not resolve the matter, or if the problem is too serious for this to be appropriate, you could write to the landlord warning that you may have to take further action. Keep copies of your letters. The Accommodation Service should also be informed of any cases of harassment by landlords. Seek advice from the sources of help below before taking any action.

sources of help
If your landlord physically assaults you, the police should be contacted. If the harassment is sexually or racially motivated you may be able to take action under anti-discrimination legislation as well as housing legislation. The Accommodation Service and the Students Union Advice & Information Centre can provide further advice and support to students who think they are being harassed by their landlord. Landlords who are proven to have harassed tenants will not be advertised by the University. Please report any incidents to the Accommodation Service. If you find that your time at University or your well-being itself is being adversely affected by accommodation difficulties, the University Counselling Service would welcome you getting in touch with them. Contact details on back cover.

landlord's right of access

Tenants have the right to quiet enjoyment of their accommodation and landlords may not remove this right. Your landlord has the right to inspect the accommodation but this must be done with your consent, at reasonable hours and with at least 24 hours notice in writing. If your landlord keeps a key and enters at unsociable hours or without notice, this could constitute harassment.

in an emergency
Call the police if you feel you are in danger. Contact the University Security Control Room (24 hours) on 023 8059 2811. Contact the University First Support Team on 023 8059 7488 or email

what action can you take?

Keep a written record of the landlords behaviour which you feel is harassment and get other people to act as witnesses. You should initially discuss the problem with your landlord - it may be that they are not aware of the problem they are causing and may be willing to change their behaviour. 20


When using gas appliances, do not cover vents and make sure you have adequate ventilation in the room. If you have a gas cooker, make sure you get a set of user instructions. If you are in doubt about the safety of an appliance, stop using it immediately and contact Transco who operate a free 24 hour emergency service. Inform your landlord as soon as possible. If they do not take action within a reasonable period of time contact the Environmental Health Service.

gas appliances & carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a killer! It is a highly poisonous gas that kills about 30 people every year as a result of faulty gas appliances. Carbon monoxide is colourless and odourless and the symptoms can be confused with those of other illnesses.

Danger signs:

Stains, soot or discolouring around a gas fire or at the top of a water heater. This may mean that the flue or chimney is blocked and carbon monoxide can build up in the room. A yellow or orange flame on a gas fire or water heater. A strange smell when the gas appliance is on. SYMPTOMS OF CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING ARE: Headaches Sickness Chronic tiredness or muscular weakness. If you or others suffer from these symptoms after being in a room with a gas appliance burning, see your doctor and call the Gas Safety Advice Line or Transco on 0870 6081524.

Is your house fitted with smoke alarms and fire extinguisher/ blanket in the kitchen? If not, put pressure on your landlord to fit them and remember to test smoke alarms monthly. DONT overload electrical sockets. Avoid multi-way adaptors; if you have to use one, buy a good quality unit with a fuse. Check flexes and plugs on heaters and other appliances to ensure they are not worn or broken. They should not get hot when used. Pick up a fire safety leaflet from SUAIC or The Student Services Centre.

safety action
Your landlord must ensure that any gas appliance in the property is safe. They must arrange for safety checks on appliances at least once every 12 months, by a GAS SAFE registered engineer. They must also keep a record of inspection dates, any defects identified and any remedial action taken. Ask to see the inspection record - you have a legal right to see it. If your landlord does not comply with these requirments, contact the Environmental Health Service and notify the Accommodation Service. Contact details on back cover.

in the kitchen
Cooking accidents are the most common cause of fires in the home. If a pan does catch fire, turn off the heat if it is safe to do so but DONT MOVE THE PAN and DONT THROW WATER ON IT. Smother the flames with a damp cloth, lid or fire blanket and leave the pan to cool for at least half an hour. 21

bedrooms and living rooms

All furniture and furnishings supplied by a landlord whether new or old should comply with the 1998 Fire Safety regulations. Check to see that the furniture provided has the fire safety label attached or was made after 1998. If it does not comply with these regulations request that the Landlord replaces the furniture. Be careful about cigarettes falling onto furniture. Never smoke in bed. Dont put furniture too close to fires or heaters where it can catch fire. Never leave portable heaters switched on when you go to bed. Prevention is always the best policy!

if you are cut off by fire

If you are prevented from getting out because of flames or smoke, close the door nearest to the fire and use towels or sheets to block any gaps. This will help stop smoke spreading into the room. Go to the window. If the room becomes smoky, get down to floor level where it is easier to breathe. Open the window and try to attract the attention of others who can alert the fire brigade. Wait for the fire brigade. If you are in immediate danger, drop cushions or bedding to the ground to break your fall from the window. Get out feet first and lower yourself to the full length of your arms before dropping.

plan ahead
Think about your escape route if a fire were to break out in your house. Try to ensure that one large window in each room can be easily opened and keep window lock keys where they can be easily found.

water supply and pipes

Make sure you know where the mains stopcock is situated. If you have any burst pipes, turn off the mains supply and switch off water heaters and central heating. If pipes burst as a result of your neglect, you may be held responsible for the cost of repairs. If you are leaving your house unoccupied during cold weather you should take action to prevent the pipes freezing and bursting. If you have central heating, set it to come on for a couple of hours in the morning and the evening, with the thermostat at about 15C. If you do not have central heating, turn off the cold water supply at the stopcock, drain the cold water system and switch off the water heater.

what to do if fire breaks out

If you can safely do so, close the door of the room where the fire has started and close all other doors behind you. This will help delay the spread of fire and smoke. Before opening a closed door test to see if it is warm, using the back of your hand. If it feels warm there is probably fire on the other side - dont open the door. Get out of the house as quickly as possible and get others out without putting yourself at risk. Dont try to pick up valuables or possessions - get out as safely as possible and try not to panic. Telephone the fire brigade on 999. Clearly state the address of the fire. Dont go back into your home until a fire officer has told you it is safe.

If your house is going to be empty for any length of time, such as during vacations, you should take certain precautions before leaving. Make sure that all doors and windows are locked; your landlord should provide adequate locks. If possible, arrange for someone to come and check on the house. You could invest in some timer light bulbs, or socket timers to help give the impression that the house is occupied. If you have transport, take valuable items, such as stereos and TVs with you; unoccupied houses full of valuable electrical equipment provide a golden opportunity to burglars. Make sure you have adequate insurance for your possessions and check the terms and conditions: some policies will not cover your possessions if the property is left empty for more than 30 days.




or other Social Networking sites), or even when you are out at the University, shopping or in the pub. Most burglaries are committed by opportunist thieves when the house is empty and in two out of every ten the thief does not have to force his way in because a door or window has been left open. Make sure you have closed all windows and doors before going out!

Statistics show that student houses are far more likely to be burgled than other residential properties in Southampton. There is compelling evidence to suggest that burglars target student houses as they expect to find poor security, and the fact that there will be more than one computer, television, stereo, cheque book, credit and bank cards. Why break into 4 family houses when you can get the same goods from one student house?

checking security when you view a property

Check the front and rear doors and door frames to see if they are sound. Consider whether a hefty push from the shoulder or a kick would open them. Glass panels are especially vulnerable. CHECK FOR: Solid external doors. Mortice deadlocks with internal thumb turns for emergency escape. The Police have highlighted that Yale-type locks can be vulnerable to burglaries. Ground floor windows fitted with locks. A spyhole in the front door is an advantage.

what you can do to avoid being a victim

Burglars dont like meeting the occupants so lights left on time switches may stop them as it suggests that someone is in. Anything that suggests your house is not a student-let will tend to reduce your vulnerability, so tidying your garden and cleaning your windows isnt such a bad idea after all. It is a good idea to take your valuables home during the vacation periods. Burglars like easy opportunities. They dont like locked windows because breaking glass attracts attention. They dont like security deadlocks as doors cannot easily be kicked in. Simple precautions like these do work. Keep valuable items out of reach of burglars. Keep items away from windows and out of view of prying eyes. Dont let everyone in the street know that youve got the latest laptop! Always keep doors and windows locked when the house is empty. Dont assume one of your housemates is still in. Be persistent in your requests to get your landlord to improve security when needed. Make a complete list of the serial numbers, makes and models of all your electrical equipment and mark valuable items with your home postcode and number. These can be marked with an invisible pen or preferably etched. 23

when burglaries happen

MOST BURGLARIES HAPPEN WHEN A HOUSE IS EMPTY. You will be most at risk during the vacation periods - so pay particular attention to the security of your home at Christmas, Easter and even on Bonfire Night! Dont advertise your absence during the vacation periods (for example on Facebook

Do the curtain check! No matter where you live in the house check the bedroom curtains to see if you can see through them particularly at night and with the electric light switched on. If they are transparent speak to your landlord to see if he will change them for thicker curtains. Be wary of unannounced visitors. Always make sure that visitors are who they say they are. If they say they are from the police, gas or electricity companies, ask to see their identity card and then ring their local office to confirm. If provided, use internal locks - especially if you are having a party. If you have a bike, keep it securely locked up at all times when not in use and stored in a shed or garage. If you have a car then use a steering lock, and never leave valuables in your car. If you have a removable stereo, remove it.

resident landlord


getting home at night

Unless it is absolutely necessary do not walk home alone at night. Carry a personal attack alarm (available from the Students Union Shop) and keep to busy well-lit roads. If you are returning home from the Union remember that Safety buses run every evening during term time from outside the Students Union. It is 1.50 to all destinations. If you believe that you are being followed, then cross the road, several times if necessary and make your way to an area where there are people and call the police. Using headphones will stop you from hearing what might be happening around you. If you take a taxi, make sure that it is registered. There should be driver ID on display inside the car and an identification plate on the outside.

If you share accommodation with your landlord, such as kitchen and living room, your landlord can evict you without having to get a court order. Your exact housing status can depend on a number of different factors, so it is always worth getting advice on this if any problems arise. You should be given written notice to leave the property, but the amount of notice required can depend on your circumstances. If you pay rent monthly, you could argue that you should be given a months notice to leave; if you pay rent weekly, you may get as little as one weeks notice. Once the period of notice has expired, the landlord can evict you immediately.

illegal eviction
Landlords may attempt illegal eviction by changing locks while you are out, physically throwing you out, or otherwise preventing you getting into your home. If this happens to you, call the police - they should make sure that you are allowed to return to your home. If you are being asked to leave before the end of your agreement (contract), your landlord may be attempting to illegally evict you. Your landlord cannot force you to leave without a court order. Seek advice from SUAIC or the Accommodation Service, contact numbers on back page.

what about personal safety?

If you are renting on the ground floor think carefully about the security aspects already mentioned. In particular be sure that the room has window locks and thick curtains. If you are sharing a house with men and women, consider allowing the women first choice of the upper floor rooms.


hen my w APPENS WHAT H

what about moving out?
At the end of the tenancy, clean cookers, fridges, toilets, baths and showers thoroughly. If the landlord has to have these cleaned commercially it could reduce your deposit considerably. Leave the house tidy and free of all rubbish.

ct ENDs? tra con

NEVER have an end-of-house party on the last day. Always leave yourselves at least three days to clean up and if necessary replace any broken items. Make sure all furniture is returned to the original rooms.

If you are responsible for the garden, make sure it is tidy and all garden rubbish has been collected (or is bagged and ready for collection). Make sure you have receipts for all rent paid and any other money paid to the landlord/agent. Keep gas, electricity, water and telephone bills, so you can show they have been paid. Three weeks before your tenancy ends make sure you have an end-of-tenancy inspection visit by the owner/agent. You should be present so that you can agree with the owner/ agent on any work that you need to do it is a good idea to tidy up before (s)he arrives! Make sure that you make a record of requests made by the landlord and have him/her date and sign it. Two weeks before you are due to move out contact the utility companies (gas/electric/water) and arrange for final meter readings to be taken prior to vacating the property (also notify the telephone company). You should also write and request that your names are removed from all the bills on the date you are due to move out. Let the owner/agent know you have done this and keep copies of all your letters. On leaving day take pictures of the house to have photographic evidence that you have thoroughly cleaned it.

what about when the tenancy comes to an end?

Assured Shorthold Tenants must be given 2 months written notice informing them that the landlord is seeking possession of the property at the end of the tenancy. If this notice has not been served the tenants are not obliged to move out. If the landlord does not require you to leave the property at the end of the contract you may be given another tenancy agreement to continue from the end of the last one. Your rent can be increased at this time. If you are not given Notice of Seeking Possession or another contract, you can remain in the property and your tenancy will run from one rent payment to the next. If the landlord subsequently wants you to leave you must be given 2 months notice, as explained above. If you wish to end the periodic (rolling) agreement you will need to give 1 full rent period as notice.


students union advice & information centre (SUAIC)
Students Union, Building 40, University Road, Highfield, Southampton SO17 1BJ

THE service? SU modation ccom a

the university accommodation service
The Student Services Centre, University Road, Highfield, Southampton, SO17 1BJ Tel: 023 8059 9599 Email: Opening times are as follows: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 9am-5.30pm Wednesday 9.00am-3.30pm Web: Email: The Accommodation Service administers University residences and private rented sector accommodation. We offer a free and confidential advisory service covering general housing matters, tenancy law and other related issues.

Tel: 023 8059 2085 Email: Opening times are as follows: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 9.00am-5.00pm Wednesday 11.00am-5.00pm Web: Winchester School of Art, Students Union Building, upstairs. Check website for details. The Students Union Advice & Information Centre is a department of the Students Union and offers assistance to all students of the University of Southampton on: Housing Finance Academic Matters and Legal Issues Consumer Rights The service we provide is completely free, confidential and impartial. We operate an appointment system. Separate interview rooms are available for you to speak to an adviser in private. We also offer free legal advice sessions. Contact SUAIC for further details. Also, check notices on the Students Union Concourse (Building 42), for termly Police Surgeries. 26


Remember that your safety is very important. Look at the property during daylight hours and take someone with you. Also, let a friend know where you are going and when you expect to get back. To ensure a proper viewing make several appointments and keep notes on each visit you make. Dont be rushed into a decision by a pushy landlord. Dont agree to move into a house that needs a lot of work. A building site in June may still be one in October.

q the event of fire in the main access passageways of the In q smoke detectors or fire alarms fitted? Do they work? Are q the house have any fire doors? Does q there a fire blanket in your kitchen? Is q and electricity - is everything checked and tested? Gas q the heating in the house adequate - will you be warm in the Is
middle of winter? q the electric/gas fires work? Does the cooker work? Do q If the cooker is a gas cooker, does the thermostat work? q Ensure you have your gas and electricity meters read immediately after you have taken responsibility for the property. Keep a record of these readings. q Ensure you ask to see a copy of a Gas Safe safety certificate for each gas appliance. Check the date as these expire after 12 months. (See page 21 for more info on Gas Safe certificates). All the gas appliances in the house should be listed. house, could you get out of the house?

q the house secure? Is q Is there a burglar alarm that works? q all the external doors solid? Are q Have all external doors been fitted with strong and secure
locks? q ground floor windows fitted with security catches? Are q you identified your own possessions by putting your Have home postcode on all your valuables? q the ground floor bedroom curtains lined or thick Are enough?

q sure you have names, addresses and telephone Make

contact numbers.

q Is the area right for you? q transport easily available? Is q there shops and services nearby? Are q
Ensure your landlord confirms any agreed repairs/ renovations in writing on your tenancy agreement (contract). See clause 12 of the SASSH approved contract.

Does the roof look sound? You can check for damp from the inside of the house as well as the outside. q the gutters got plants growing out of them? Have q the drains clear? Are q any of the woodwork rotting or unsafe? Is q gardens, walls, fences and boundaries maintained? Are

REMEMBER - the condition of the property is likely to give you an indication of the response to any repair requests.

q any repairs need doing? Do q you told the owner in writing what needs doing Have
have you agreed what will be done, in writing, before you sign the Tenancy Agreement?

q the decorating need doing? Does q so, who is doing it and who is paying? Has the owner If
set any upper limit on the cost of materials if you are decorating the house yourself? Get confirmation in writing.

Has the house got enough furniture for the full number of housemates sharing? q there sufficient space in the kitchen to store and prepare Is food? q any of the furniture the property of existing tenants? Is q all the furniture in good condition? Is q the furniture fire retardant? Is

q you wish to be insured? The Students Union Advice and Do

Information Centre can advise you.

q the house clean? Is q not, have you told the owner what the condition is in If
writing? q you have the equipment to keep it clean? Do q all your prospective housemates have the same Do understanding as you about tidying up? q there any signs of pests, e.g. mouse droppings, slug Are trails, fleas in the house?

q are you paying for in your rent? How does it compare What
to other rents? Have you paid a deposit? If so, what is it for? Have you got a receipt for what you have paid? Are you responsible for water charges? q much will heating the house cost? How

q What q the plumbing work? Does q you tried all the taps? Have q the sinks drain? Do q the toilet leak? Does q there any hot water and how do you pay for it? Is q there a shower and does it work? Is q there enough bathrooms/WCs for the full number of Are
housemates sharing? q out whether there are sufficient and adequate Check facilities for you and your housemates. As general guidance, all SASSH accredited properties should have sufficient and suitable bathroom and kitchen facilities.

services does the owner provide for you, if any? Window cleaning, gardening, lighting of common parts, refuse disposal? What are the parking arrangements?

q you know what your contract means? Read this guide Do

and pick up a copy of the Guide to Your Contract from the Student Services Centre or online at q you talked to the previous occupants of the house Have and asked them if they have any comments that would help you? q for a copy of the Tenancy Agreement endorsed by Ask SASSH. q an appointment to discuss your Tenancy Agreement Make with the Accommodation Service or SUAIC staff.

Here are some useful numbers and addresses that you might need.

STUDENTS UNION ADVICE & INFORMATION CENTRE Tel: 023 8059 2085 Email: UNIVERSITY ACCOMMODATION SERVICE Tel: 023 8059 9599 Email: UNIVERSITY COUNSELLING SERVICE 28 University Road, Highfield, Southampton. Tel: 023 8059 3719 Email: CITIZENS ADVICE BUREAU 3 Kings Park Road, Southampton Tel: 023 8022 1406 PRIVATE RENTED SOCIETY The Private Rented Society was formed in 2008 by students, for students. Its purpose is to help 1st years, who either did not make it into halls or chose not to go into halls, with renting their houses and provide means for them to socialise with each other. GAS To find out who supplies the gas to your property phone Transco on 0870 608 1524. Gas escape emergencies - Tel: 0800 111 999 ELECTRICITY To find out who supplies the electricity to your property phone Southern Electricity on 0845 744 555 having your meter serial number at hand. Interactive website for payments, meter readings and moving house details: SOUTHERN WATER PLC Emergency 24 hr helpline 0845 278 0845 Billing Enquiries - Tel: 0845 272 0845
PLEASE NOTE that at time of publication every effort was made to ensure the accuracy of the information given in this handbook. The University cannot accept responsibility for errors, omissions, or subsequent changes in legal requirements.
It is not an authoritative statement of law. If you are in any doubt about any of the information in this publication you should seek legal advice.

UNIVERSITY SECURITY Tel: 023 8059 2811 NHS DIRECT Tel: 0845 4647


HEALTH & SAFETY EXECUTIVE GAS SAFETY ADVICE LINE Tel: 0800 300 363 TRANSCO/GAS ESCAPES EMERGENCIES Tel: 0800 111 999 BRITISH TELECOM Tel: Free phone 0800 800 800 COUNCIL TAX INFORMATION Tel: 023 8083 2349 DOMESTIC REFUSE BULK COLLECTION (Actionline) Tel: 080 0519 1919 NIGHTLINE (confidential listening service) Tel: 023 8059 5236 PRIVATE HOUSING SERVICE (Environmental Health) Tel: 023 8083 2606