The Johnians Guide to...
St John’s College
Livers- Out Handbook 2007-2008
Hey everyone, my name is Helen Loxley and I’m your Livers-Out Officer for this
coming year. This booklet contains lots of useful information amassed by past Livers-Out officers and is designed to help you with the challenges thrown at you while living away from college. There is a lot of information but if you’re
looking for an opportunity to procrastinate this is it.
Whether you’re looking for the numbers for the local takeaway, someone has had a mishap in the kitchen requiring first aid or you need advice on how to get your deposit back, this booklet should have everything you need. If problems do arise, DON’T PANIC! There will always be someone who can help. You can contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 07930493107), I’ll be in regular
contact with other Livers-Out Officers and the DSU Accommodation Office so I can always point you in the right direction for help, should the need arise.
Have a great year!
1. Moving in, Going on holiday and Moving out
2. Staying Safe
3. First Aid
4. Getting Around
5. Food glorious food
6. Being Green and getting along with the neighbours
7. When things go wrong
8. Money Matters
9. St Margaret’s Garth
10. Useful Contacts
Things you need to know when...
; Take photos of the house inside and out- This
will record what the house was like when you Moving In
moved and will help you get your deposit back at
the end of the year ( especially if the house was less Probably by the time you
than perfect). read this you will have
already moved in but here ; If things aren’t as they should be write to the
are a few tips for your first landlord- When you take on a property it should be
clean and in good repair. If it isn’t write to the landlord few days in your new
keeping a copy of the dated letter and explain the home, which will make
problems. Again take photos. The landlord should take things much easier in the steps to have the house cleaned and if not try and
long run make arrangements to clean it yourselves and then
being compensates by your landlord. Remember the
later you leave it the harder it will be trying to
convince the landlord to take action.
; Make sure your landlord has provided you with an inventory- If they haven’t provided
you with one ask he/she to draw one up for you. Check that it’s correct, adding or removing any items depending on whether they are there and also make sure to note if anything is in a bad condition. Again take photos and if anything at all is unusable get the landlord to replace it.
; Check that you know where to find the water stopcock, electricity meter and the gas meter- It may take a bit of hunting around for but when you do find them take meter readings so that you don’t end up paying the previous tenants bills. Find out who is supplying your utilities, start a new account and make sure all the bills are changed to your name. You could alternatively hunt around for a better deal. A useful website for this is
money.guardian.co.uk/utilities, which gives you an independent comparison for gas,
electricity and phone services.
; Get a TV License- This is a must if you fancy wiling away the hours in front of the box. Although a landlord may provide a TV it’s unlikely that they will provide the licence, so find
information on how to get one at www.tvlicensing.co.uk/information/students.jsp. It may
seem like a lot of money but remember it’ll be split between whoever is in the house with you.
; The obvious things- Lock all the doors and windows,
don’t tell strangers when the house will be empty, hide Going on Holiday
valuables and take whatever you can with you.
; Let your landlord know if and when the house is going to be empty – This is usually wise
when you will be away for a week or two. The landlord may be willing to come and keep an eye
on the property. Its a good idea to check your contract for a clause imposing a limit on the
length of time for which you can leave the property unoccupied and unattended. It’s also wise
to check your insurance policy for a similar clause.
; Responsibility for the property- you’re still responsible for the property even while your
away. It’s advisable in winter weather to leave the heating on for a few hours in the morning
and the evening and getting a few timer switches for lamps and radios to give your house a
lived in look to outsiders.
Moving Out The Top 5 Reasons for Deposit Deductions
Here is some advice for 1. Failure to leave the property in a clean condition.
2. Failure to pay all the rent which is due. overcoming the hurdle that is the
3. Failure to repair or replace damaged furnishings. Annual Student Deposit Return
4. A breach in some way of a contractual agreement. (Good luck!)
5. Failure to pay bills.
If your property is under the Code of Standards your landlord has 4 weeks to return your deposit at the end of the year, or 6 weeks if they own more than 3 properties.
If at all possible, before you leave try to arrange a joint inspection with your landlord and go through the inventory for the property together. If your landlord states that everything is okay, then ask them to sign something confirming that the household is in an acceptable condition and that the deposit of ?X is to be returned to you. Make sure you keep a copy of this.
PROBLEMS- If your landlord states that the property is not in a satisfactory condition then you may have time to rectify the problem. If you believe that the damage was caused by a previous tenant then this is the time to get out the photos you took of the property when you first moved in. The burden on proof lies with you to prove that the house was in this state when you moved in. If your landlord fails to return your deposit within the acceptable time limit, give them a ring them to find out why. If after this you are still waiting, write to them explaining the situation and when you want the money refunded by. Fourteen days is the usual time limit in situations such as this and remember that the DSU accommodation office can help you with this.
A few simple pointers to maximise your chances of having your deposit returned ; Dispose of any rubbish sensibly – Use your wheelie bin and if there is any excess rubbish
contact the Waste Management Department at the City Council ( 0191 301 8669) in advance of
your collection day. They will take your wheelie bin plus three extra bags in given notice.
Refuse collectors are unlikely to take your rubbish away unless you put your wheelie bin at the
end of the driveway (this is true of locals as well). Also Try and make sure that it’s in an easy
place for the collectors to reach. If you’re not sure of your collection day contact your landlord
or alternatively go and ask your neighbours, it’s a good excuse to say hello!
; Take photographs of the property (again!)- Especially anything you think may cause a problem.
Also complete an inventory and if you can have a joint inspection with your landlord ; Disconnect your telephone- Remember this generally requires around 3 days notice. Also have
your bills forwarded to your home address.
; Take meter readings- This is required for both gas and electricity supplies.
; Furniture- If you’ve moved the furniture around, return it to the place where the landlord
expects to find it. This makes checking the inventory easier also.
; Take all of your belongings with you- simple really.
The cleaner you leave the property the less likely you are to have your deposit
; Insurance- Your belongings may have been covered by
your parents insurance while living in college but this
Being Burglar Proof may not be the case while living out. Most home
Student houses can be an easy insurers will want your bedroom to have a lock on it
target for burglars but here are (and for you to use it while out!) Endsleigh provide
insurance for students and are approved by NUS. There some tips about how to protect
is an Endsleigh office opposite the DSU and you can find your belongings.
them on the web at www.endsleigh.co.uk/student-Better to be safe than sorry!
; Cold Callers- It’s always best to follow the advice given to you by your mum and dad all those
years ago, “Don’t talk to strangers!” especially at your front door. ALWAYS CHECK THEIR I.D.
and If they are genuinely from a gas or electricity company for example they WILL NOT MIND.
If you’re ever in doubt as to how genuine a caller is, call the number on their card just to check.
There have been reports of distraction burglaries where cold callers come to the door claiming
to be from charities or business and it is always wise not to let such people into your home to
be on the safe side. DO NOT answer questions like “When are you going home for the
holidays?” and “Are you coming back next term?” This is all the information a burglar needs to
ascertain when there will be no one in the house making your home an easy target.
; Mark your property with a UV pen – This can help if your property does get stolen and you
can get them free from the DSU Accommodation Office or from me.
; Avoid putting posters in windows or externally prominent positions- I know this sounds
a bit silly but it is a real giveaway that it is a student house which is likely to have a fair few
laptops and other valuable items.
What happens if you’re a victim of crime?
If you are unfortunate to be a victim of a crime, even if it seems insignificant, please take the time to fill in an incident report form. These can be obtained from the advice centre, the VP Welfare, myself or can be printed out from the internet at
http://www.dsu.org.uk/welfare/pdfs/incidentreportform.pdf. Then simply hand them into the
university Education and Welfare officer. Reporting crimes, even if they seem to be a one off (such as someone egging your house), is really important as general patterns regarding anti-social behaviour can be recognised and addressed.
Gas Awareness ; Your landlord has a legal responsibility to ensure
that all gas appliances (including flues and pipe
work) are maintained in safe condition. They must also ensure that each appliance and flue is
In November 1995 a checked for safety at least once a year. They MUST student at the University of give you a copy of the certificate of the safety
check within 28 days of it occurring. Durham died from Carbon
; The record of the safety check must contained the Monoxide poisoning whilst
following information :
living privately rented
accommodation. 1. The date of the check and the address of the
2. The name and the address of the landlord. Severe Carbon Monoxide
3. A description, and the location, of each appliance or poisoning can make you
flue checked and any defect identified. insensible within 2 hours!
4. Any necessary remedial action taken.
5. Confirmation that the check includes the
effectiveness of flues and ventilation etc.
6. The name, signature and CORGI registration number
of the person carrying out the check.
Testing for Carbon Monoxide-
; Hopefully your landlord will have provided you with Carbon Monoxide testers. If not you can
get them free from me (the Livers-Out officer) or the DSU Accommodation Office.
; Check your Carbon Monoxide tester regularly following the instructions carefully.
; Remember that while these testers are useful they are not foolproof. Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:
If any of your housemates are suffering from any of the You cannot SMELL, SEE following symptoms you should consider Carbon or TASTE Carbon
Monoxide Poisoning as a possible cause :
monoxide but it is a Headaches Nausea Over Tiredness DEADLY POISON
Dizziness Convulsions Drowsiness
Pains in the stomach or Chest
If you think you may have a gas leak call the In the event of a fire, Get National Grid 24 hour helpline on 0800 111 999
out, Stay out, Call the Fire then OPEN ALL WINDOWS and CHECK YOUR
Brigade! CARBON MONOXIDE TESTER
How to avoid the main fire risks within the home:
1. Don’t leave burning candles unattended.
2. Ensure cigarettes are stubbed out and disposed of safely.
3. Don’t leave clothing on heaters to dry.
4. Take care when tired or have been drinking.
; Check that you have a working SMOKE ALARMS in appropriate places. ; TEST your smoke alarms regularly.
; N o matter how annoying they become when they go off
while you are cooking NEVER remove the batteries of
More information on Fire your smoke alarm, they could save your life.
Safety can be found at ; Remember to keep a key in a convenient place. Hunting
for keys to get out of your front door in a smoke filled
room is not easy. www.firekills.gov.uk
; Make sure you have a planned escape route. Think
about how you would get out if there where a fire
outside your bedroom door.
If you live in a house for more than five people or a property of at least three storeys, the house
will probably to be a “House in Multiple Occupation”. Under the law this requires fire detection devices and fire fighting equipment to be maintained.
If you live in a smaller property then you will need to appeal to your landlord for fire safety devices.
Code of Standards houses will provide British standard smoke detectors, a fire extinguisher and a
fire blanket So if there aren’t any smoke alarms, ASK THE LANDLORD!!!!!! They are extremely
SOFT FURNISHINGS AND FIRE SAFETY
; Since January 1997, it has been unlawful for Landlords to supply upholstered furniture in
rented accommodation which does not comply with the 1998 standards set out in the
Furniture and Furnishings Regulations.
; WHY? Upholstered furniture made before 1998 may contain foam which is capable on
engulfing room with toxic flames and smoke in seconds.
; The new standards require that upholstered furniture be filled with safer materials and be
covered by material with greater fire resistance.
; Furniture bought new after 1998 should be labelled to indicate that it complies with these
; If your landlord cannot provide proof that your furniture complies, request that these items be
replaced. They will be in breach of the law if they do not do so. If your landlord does refuse to
replace the items you can contact the Local Consumer Services Department at County Hall (the
number can be found at the Accommodation Office.)