'Healthy homes' is all about trying to improve the things in our homes that may effect our health and wellbeing. Stability, comfort and security are all part of making sure you feel safe and well at home.
Healthy Homes Checklist
The healthy homes checklist is a quick breakdown of some of the most important factors in making sure a home is healthy. You can use it whilst viewing a new house that you are hoping to buy or rent, or to check a home that you already live in.
When looking at a property, especially if you have never rented or owned property before, it can be difficult to know what to look for. This checklist can help you decide whether the building would be a healthy place for you to live.
If you feel that there are hazards in your property that the landlord has been unable or unwilling to put right, you can contact the Council’s Housing Enforcement Team for their advice. They may be able to assist and inspect the property to determine if there is action that can be taken on your behalf: https://www.doncaster.gov.uk/doitonline/private-rented-accommodation-repair-problems-form or telephone: 01302 737573 to speak to the team.
Healthy Homes Checklist
- Healthy Homes Checklist
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Fires in the home can be a serious threat to life. All reasonable attempts should be made by the landlord and occupants to reduce the likelihood of them occurring or causing serious injury. Things to check:
- Working smoke alarms must be located on each habitable level within the property. This is a legal requirement of the landlord at the start of most new tenancies and landlords must also replace any faulty alarms once notified by their tenant.
- Check the alarm is working by pressing the test button.
- Smoke alarms must be loud enough to be heard in all bedrooms when internal doors are shut. Interlinked alarms, where all sound if one is activated, may be needed in such cases.
- If you are deaf or hard of hearing you may benefit from a specialist fire alarm with a flashing light and/or vibration pads.
- Tenants are responsible for replacing batteries. This should be done as soon as a low battery warning sounds. A smoke alarm with a dead or missing battery will not provide any warning of fire.
- The provision of fire extinguishers is not a legal requirement. If they are present, they must be maintained and tested every year.
- Landlords must provide fire blankets in all kitchens within a house in multiple occupation.
- If you are in a flat or a house in multiple occupation, ask your landlord if fire doors are present in the property. A fire door can slow the spread of fire and smoke, allowing you more time to escape or be rescued, in the event of an emergency. Fire doors leading onto escape routes should have self-closers and automatically shut fully, they should have smoke and/or fire seals to the door or frame.
- Consider if there is a protected route of escape from the property. If there isn’t, such as where the stairs from bedrooms open into a kitchen or living, consider what other means of escape or rescue are present, such as fire escape windows.
- Escape routes should be free of obstructions, furniture and white goods.
Electric shocks can result in severe injuries, and faulty electrics have the potential to cause fires or damage to property. To reduce the risk of an electrical hazard:
- Ask the landlord to show you the location of the fuse box/consumer unit in case of power cuts. This should have circuit breakers and a “trip” RCD (residual current device) to cut the power in the event of a fault. For further information on consumer units visit Electrical Safety First.
- Ask to see the Electrical Installation Condition Report that shows the electrical installation has been tested by a competent electrician and is safe for its intended use. It is a legal requirement of the landlord to have this inspection and a report produced at least every 5 years (and take action to deal with any dangerous electrics found) and they must provide a copy of the report to you within 28 days of you asking them for it.
- Look for leaks or water sources near electrical outlets or appliances.
- Check lights are working as you view the property, switching them on in each room.
- If your landlord has provided electrical appliances, these should be checked annually and maintained in safe working order. This may be a visual inspection to check power cables are in good repair and show no obvious signs of damage, and the results of the inspections should be recorded. Do not touch appliances or leads that look damaged, and report these to the landlord.
- Power leads should not run under rugs or furniture as they are more likely to be damaged in those locations.
- If it is not possible to move a power cable that is in a position where it could get damaged, ask your landlord to protect it with a rubber guard or covering.
- Check there are enough sockets available, in suitable locations, without the need to overload sockets or use multi-plug extensions, which can lead to fires or electric shocks.
- Most tenanted properties must have a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) at the start of a tenancy and it is a legal requirement of the landlord to give the tenant a copy of this when the tenancy starts. You should be able to see the latest EPC for the property. If not, visit Find an energy certificate - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) Landlords cannot let or continue to let most properties if they have an EPC rating of F or G, unless they have a valid exemption in place.
- Check how the property is heated, as the running costs of different systems will vary significantly. Electric heating, especially old-style heaters, is often the most expensive way to heat a home, unless it is very well insulated.
- Can the heating system be controlled by a timer, can the boiler (if provided) temperature be adjusted and is there at least one adjustable room thermostat fitted in the home?
- Check what insulation measures are in place, e.g. does the property have double glazed windows and sufficient (ideally 270mm) loft insulation? What are the walls constructed of? Solid walls with no internal or external wall insulation are very poor at keeping heat in, cavity walls with cavity insulation are best.
- If fitted, turn the radiators on when viewing the property and check that they heat evenly across the entire surface.
- Check how water is heated. “Instant” hot water is often cheaper than that drawn from a hot water cylinder. Gas heated water is often cheaper than electric immersion heaters. Ask to turn the hot water on, to check that the boiler and water heater work.
- Check all radiators have a valve so you can control the temperatures of each room individually.
- Check if there are low energy LED light bulbs in use.
- Ensure that radiators are not covered (wholly or partially) by furniture, which will stop them warming the room.
- If the property has a gas boiler or gas fireplace, check for a carbon monoxide detector and test that it is working. These look similar a smoke alarm and are a vital safety tool. It is a legal requirement of the landlord to provide and fit a carbon monoxide alarm in every room that contains appliances such as gas fires, oil/gas boilers but not for gas hobs or ovens.
- It is a legal requirement of a landlord to have all gas appliances (gas cooker, gas boiler or gas fireplace etc.) checked every 12 months for safe operation by a Gas Safe registered engineer. They must also give the tenant a copy of the certificate when the tenancy starts and upon each annual check.
Light and Ventilation
- Check that the windows can open with ease for specific ventilation needs and close properly to prevent draughts.
- Check air vents are not blocked and can be opened and closed.
- Trickle vents can often be found in window frames. These allow background ventilation in rooms without causing draughts, sufficient to help keep the air healthy in normal situations.
- Ventilation is especially important in kitchens and bathrooms, as these rooms generate a lot of moisture. Fans in these rooms may be activated when the lights are switched on. If not, check for additional switches that activate the fan, or ask the landlord how these rooms are ventilated. Always use the fans when cooking and bathing, especially when showering. If moist air cannot be effectively ventilated out of a home, it will build up and will condense on colder surfaces and where the air movement is limited, leading to mould formation after time.
- If the property is furnished, check behind furniture to make sure that there is no damp or mould. Make sure that you leave a gap between walls and furniture to prevent damp from forming.
- Check if there is outdoor space to hang and dry washing, or if not, the use of a tumble dryer. Even if normal ventilation is good, drying clothes indoors in the open is a major source of moisture and this can often lead to condensation and mould growth. If this is necessary, do it in the bathroom with the fan and heating on, and the door closed, to reduce the spread of damp air inside the home.
- Nearly all windows suffer from condensation on the inside after a cold night. Make sure that you wipe this off each morning, or the damp conditions will lead to black mould forming. It’s best to use toilet paper to do this, which you can flush away – using a cloth and leaving it to dry simply re-circulates the moisture back into the room.
- Natural light and a view from a window is important. It helps the body produce essential vitamins, regulates your sleep cycle, can reduce eye strain and trip accidents, and can improve your focus and mental health. Imagine living in the space and how that would make you feel, especially on an overcast, cloudy day.
- Check that the lights work, especially in spaces such as stairs and bathrooms, as proper lighting helps to prevent trips and falls.
There are several things you can do to minimize the risk of fall hazards:
- Make sure that carpets and rugs are properly secured to the floor, so that they will not move or slip underfoot.
- Make sure that power cables, including cables to standing lamps, are placed to avoid trailing cables across walkways.
- Check for grip mats or welcome mats that reduce the risk of slipping around doors to outside spaces.
- Outdoor paths should be in a reasonable condition without disrepair, risk of flooding and should be adequately lit.
- Check that cords or cables (such as those on curtains and or blinds) are out of reach of pets and children.
- Check that banisters and guarding on stairs are secure, and high enough without gaps of more than 10cm between spindles. Stairs should be fitted with appropriate handrails.
- Check that rails in showers are securely fastened.
- Check that windows which open above ground floor level have safety catches fitted to prevent inadvertent opening of more than 10cm. These should have an override that adults can operate, but not one that requires a key to operate.
- Check that any glazing that is fitted in or against doors (certain small panels exempt) or at low level is safety glass, to reduce the risk of serious injury from someone falling into it. Check that each pane has a the correct British Standard (“BS”) kitemark in the corner.
- Water spills and leaks can cause trip hazards, damp, mould, and attract pests as well as cause other dangers such as electric shocks.
- Check that toilets, sinks, baths, showers and wash hand basins do not leak.
- Check for water stains on the ceilings, walls, a bulging or flaking patch in plasterwork or sometimes a musty odour, which indicates water damage is occurring.
- Mop up accidents straight away.
- Kitchens worktops and units should be properly secured to prevent slipping, sliding or coming loose. They should also be easily cleanable to prevent contamination of food or attracting pests, as should walls, floors and ceilings.
- There should be sufficient food storage space, which should be cool and dry. There should also be space for a fridge and washer (which may be provided).
- Cookers should be positioned with plenty of space for people to walk by, shouldn’t be next to doorways, and should have worktops at both sides to protect against accidentally knocking hot pans off.
- Check that any gas or electric appliances are installed and work properly. It is a legal requirement of the landlord to have all gas appliances including gas cookers checked every 12 months for safe operation by a Gas Safe registered engineer. They must also give the tenant a copy of the certificate when the tenancy starts and upon each annual check.
- Check what noise you can hear in gardens, living spaces and bedrooms and ask yourself if you are comfortable with the level of noise. Would you be able to open the windows in hot weather? If possible, observe the noise at different times of day, particularly rush hour or evenings if near a pub or similar venue.
- If your property is joined on to another, you will sometimes be able to hear noises from your neighbours, as sound insulation between properties is not sound proof. Hearing noise through walls and floors is especially common in flats and houses in multiple occupation. If you think there is an unreasonable level of noise being caused, it is often best to have a friendly word with the neighbour, who may not realise it is an issue. If this does not work, or the noise is from a business, you can contact the Council for advice: https://www.doncaster.gov.uk/services/environmental/noise or telephone: 01302 737573 to speak to the team.
- Do all ground floor/accessible windows and outside doors have working locks (key operated)? In addition, an outside door might have a deadbolt lock with a strike plate, or a second lock for additional security.
- Does the door lock have a British Standard (“BS”) mark on it to indicate it is good quality? Do uPVC door locks meet a high security standard or are they just the standard “euro lock” which are easily overcome?
- Are there motion activated lights or a burglar alarm? If so, check that they work.
- Is the rear property boundary secure, with a high fence/wall and sturdy lockable gate?
- If the property has outside storage, such as a shed or garage, ensure that it has a sturdy door and strong lock.
- Park or green space, especially if the property does not have a garden or outdoor space attached
- Bus stop
- Train station
- Doctor/ dentist
Does the area feel safe? Will you be comfortable going out or coming back in the dark? If you have children, how will you feel about them playing outside in the area?
Healthy Homes and Families
It is important to know how to make your home healthy and safer, particularly for children, so they can be happy and thrive in their environment. The following video and information will show you each area of a house and the changes you can make to ensure yourself and your children are safe and well.
This video shows how you can make changes to your general/outside living area. Please watch the video below for useful tips or browse the links below the video.
Please see NHS falls prevention for further information on falls. Doncaster Council Environment Services and Bins and recycling has more information on environmental services. Chemicals and Accident Prevention can provide general information on accident prevention or RoSPA for information on poisoning. For local information on adaptations, please see Doncaster Councils website.
This video shows how you can make changes to your living area. Please watch the video below for useful tips or browse the links below the video.
This video shows how you can make changes to your hallways and staircases. Please watch the video below for useful tips or browse the links below the video.
This video shows how you can make changes to your kitchen. Please watch the video below for useful tips or browse the links below the video.
This video shows how you can make changes to your bathroom. Please watch the video below for useful tips or browse the links below the video.