Your safety

Your safety and the safety of your family and neighbours has to be our priority. This is why it is so important that you give us access to carry out gas, electricity, water hygiene and asbestos testing when needed.

We also need you to tell us when you think something is not quite right that might affect your safety. You know your home and estate better than anyone. A report following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in 2017 recommended that tenants should have the opportunity to tell their landlord about their safety concerns. You should also be able to escalate those concerns to senior staff if you feel you aren’t being listened to.

You can tell us your safety concerns by emailing us, phoning us, writing to us, talking to staff carrying out estate inspections or calling in to our offices. Our contact details are here.

If you feel your concerns have not been heard or taken seriously, you can ask to speak in person to either the Head of Asset Management and Development or the Head of Operations.

If you still feel that you have not been heard, you can ask the Chief Executive to contact you to discuss it.

On this page, we give tips and advice for tenants, explaining what you can do to keep your home and household safe.

Fire safety is everyone’s responsibility and we all need to do our bit.

Firstly, you need to understand how to evacuate your home in a fire. Sometimes it may not be safe to evacuate your home – either because you have difficulty moving to a final place of safety, or because a fire prevents you from getting out.

If you have mobility problems, let us know so that we can make the fire service aware. If you are unable to evacuate the building in a fire, go to the furthest point in your flat away from the fire, closing all doors behind you.

Corridors and walkways

Even if you don’t share an escape route with other people, you must keep all corridors and walkways clear at all times. Smoke rises very quickly and your exit route may not be easy to see. If something is in your way, it can cost you vital seconds.

General advice

  • If you have a smoke alarm, check it once a month.
  • Know your building.
  • Make sure that everyone in your home knows where the exits are.
  • Close all internal doors when you go to bed.
  • Take care in the kitchen, never leave your cooking unattended and take extra care with hot oil.
  • Never leave lit flames such as candles unattended.
  • Make sure cigarettes are stubbed out and disposed of carefully and never smoke in bed.
  • Don’t overload electrical sockets and keep them free of dust.
  • Keep matches away from children.
  • Don’t store flammable liquids such as petrol in your home, bin store or anywhere near the building.
  • If you require oxygen for a medical condition, you must tell us. It is really important that we get this information to the fire service. We will attach a small sign outside your front door so they know.

Faulty electrics (appliances, wiring and overloaded sockets) cause around 7,000 house fires across the UK every year. Here are some things to help you avoid an electrical fire.

  • Make sure any electrical appliances you buy have a British or European safety mark.
  • Don’t buy cheap, counterfeit chargers for items with Lithium batteries.
  • Never overload adaptors with too many plugs.
  • Unplug appliances that aren’t in use, especially heaters and irons. Unplugging may even save you money.
  • Keep a look out for signs of dangerous or loose wiring such as scorch marks, hot plugs and sockets, fuses that blow or circuit-breakers that trip for no obvious reasons, or flickering lights.
  • Check hidden cables and leads, for example, behind furniture or under carpets and mats. Replace any that are worn.
  • Never cover electric heaters with washing.
  • Always check that you use the right fuse in plugs and the recommended bulb wattage in light fittings to prevent overheating.
  • Keep sockets and extension leads free of dust.
  • Give our contractors access to complete the five-year electrical safety inspection.

If your home has a gas supply, we will carry out an annual gas safety inspection. This ensures your home is not dangerous to you or your neighbours, helps your system work more efficiently and may reduce your gas bill.

We will arrange a suitable date and time with you for doing carry out this check. If you fail to give access to our contractors, we will start court proceedings to access your home. We may also serve you with a notice to take possession of your home for breach of your tenancy agreement.

Gas leaks

If you smell gas or suspect a gas leak, call National Grid on 0800 111 999 immediately. Only call WFHA after you have done this.

  • Don’t use electrical switches – they might cause a spark.
  • Shut off the gas supply at the meter.
  • Put out all naked flames.
  • Open doors and windows.
  • Leave your home.

Any other gas repairs can be reported to us in the usual way.

Legionella is the name given to a group of bacteria that is found in almost all water sources including streams, rivers and lakes. The bacteria can also be found in soil, compost and mains water, and can sometimes enter domestic water systems.

Low concentrations of the bacteria are generally not harmful. However, it is dangerous to inhale water droplets from a contaminated water system – which can happen if the conditions are right for the bacteria to grow.

The bacteria can cause a number of infections, most not serious. However, legionnaires’ disease can be fatal in 10% to 12% of cases.

What we do about water hygiene

We employ a water hygiene company to check whether legionella is present in any of the water systems in our homes. Where necessary, and in line with legal obligations, we regularly inspect buildings to make sure water systems are clean and safe, and to disinfect them.

What you can do

Most households don’t store huge amounts of water. They use water regularly, so it’s not standing in pipes for very long. This means the risk of legionella in your home is low.

However, there are some things you can do.

1. Set the right temperature

Legionella bacteria are more likely to grow between 20C and 50C, so where possible set hot water cylinders at 60C or above. Regular use of cold water should also ensure temperatures stay below 20C.

2. De-scale taps and showers

Legionella bacteria can grow and multiply on scale or rust. So de-scale taps and showers every three months or when there is an obvious build-up of scale.

The harder the water in your area, the more frequently you should de-scale.

Clean the taps in your bath, basin, and sink by brushing the scale off with a nylon brush or wiping them with a diluted bleach solution. You can also use any de-scaling solution that you can buy from hardware shops.

If you have a shower with a flexible hose, fit it with a ‘hose retaining ring’. This will stop it falling into bath water and so decrease the risk of contamination.

3. Use water taps once a week

This helps to make sure you don’t have water standing still in pipes. If you’ve been away for more than a week, you should run all your taps for a few minutes before using the water.

You’ll also need to run the water in the shower. Make sure you remove the shower head before doing this so the water doesn’t spray and create water droplets. If you can’t remove the shower head, cover it with a towel or a plastic bag while you run the water.

4. Flush away the bacteria

The water in your home is more likely to have legionella if you haven’t used it for a while. So if you have been away for more than a week, you should:

  • heat your water system to the normal temperature
  • run every tap for at least five minutes, and
  • slowly flush the cold taps until the water runs cold.

When flushing taps or other outlets, remember to open them slowly so you don’t splash water or release droplets in the air.

Asbestos is not a health hazard if it’s in good condition. When products that contain asbestos are damaged or deteriorate, then you and others may be at risk.

Asbestos is a strong fibrous mineral which can resist heat and chemicals. It was most commonly used in building materials between the 1950s and the 1980s. Products containing asbestos can look the same as those that don’t.

Where you might spot asbestos

On the outside of the building:

  • roof sheets and tiles
  • fascia boards
  • cladding, or
  • guttering and drain pipes.

On interior surfaces:

  • textured wall and ceiling coatings (such as Artex)
  • duct panels (access to pipe work)
  • infill panels (above, below or next to doorways and windows)
  • panels behind radiators and heaters
  • floor tiles
  • suspended ceiling panels, or
  • the underside of stairs.

Other places:

  • insulation to boilers and water heaters
  • boiler flue pipes
  • storage radiators
  • bath panels
  • fireplace panels
  • panels to the underside of sink
  • water tank
  • pipe lagging, or
  • garage and shed roofs.

Are you at risk?

No, not if products that contain asbestos are undisturbed and undamaged. If they do become damaged or deteriorate, then you and others may be at risk.

DIY activities such as sanding or drilling may disturb and possibly damage products containing asbestos. So, please seek advice from our maintenance team before doing this kind of work on any material you think may contain asbestos.

What we do about asbestos

We minimise the risk from asbestos for our tenants, their visitors and our contractors by:

  • carrying out surveys to identify asbestos-containing material in all areas of our properties, if we think this is needed
  • compiling and maintaining a register of where there is asbestos
  • assessing the risk from all known asbestos-containing materials in all of our properties
  • managing the risk from asbestos-containing materials
  • giving information about where asbestos-containing materials are and their condition, to anyone who may be exposed to asbestos
  • giving tenants information on request about where there are asbestos-containing materials and their condition, and
  • ensuring that anyone who might disturb asbestos-containing materials follows appropriate and safe procedures.

What you need to know

  • Remember asbestos-containing materials are safe when in good condition and undisturbed.
  • Try to ensure that anything you think may contain asbestos remains in good condition.
  • Before doing any structural DIY work always get our advice – you may need permission to do the work under the terms of your tenancy in any case.

When decorating:

  • always soak wallpaper before removing it from the walls – if possible use a steam stripper and then gently peel away the paper before redecorating
  • don’t try to remove old floor tiles or lino – leave them in place and lay new floor coverings over them, and
  • don’t try to remove textured coatings from ceilings – wash any areas of flaking paint before re-painting.