Tenant's Troubleshooting Guide


Gas Escape - Smell of Gas


If you smell gas turn off the gas supply off at the meter, open a window and ventilate the area then call TRANSCO on 0800 111 999. Every property has an isolator valve by the gas meter – it is a large lever and usually coloured yellow.


No Gas


 1. Do you have a Pre-payment meter – Is there credit on it?

 2. Check that the gas meter is turned on.

 3. Check with neighbouring properties – it could be switched off locally and you will need to wait for the supply to be restored locally.

 4. Check with your gas supplier.

 5. If there is no local problem and your Gas supplier is unable to help please report to us.



 No Electricity


 1. Do you have a Pre-payment meter – Is there credit on it?

 2. Check the power is switched on at the fuse board.

 3. Check with neighbouring properties as it could be a power cut and you will need to wait for the power to be restored locally.

 4. Check with your energy supplier.

 5. If there is no local problem and your energy supplier is unable to help please report to us.



No Water Supply


Check with Thames Water on 0845 9200 800 or your neighbouring properties as this is most likely to be caused by the water being turned off at the street or block level and you will need to wait for it to be turned back on. If there is no local problem please report to us asap.



Escape of Water - Burst Pipe


In the event of a burst water pipe or escape of water in your property please report to us asap and isolate the water either at the main stop-cock or at an isolation valve, where appropriate, to prevent further damage. An isolation valve is a small quarter turn screw valve in the pipework which means you do not have to shut off the water to the whole flat – you will be able to isolate a faulty appliance, fitting or pipework.


If you have a leak into your property from a neighbouring, please alert the occupiers to that property as soon as possible in order that they can isolate the leak. Then report it to us so we can assess any damage and arrange for any repairs to your property to be carried out once the cause of the leak has been rectified and it has fully dried out.



Leaking Bath or Sink Waste


Please be careful not to remove or loosen the screw in the plug hole which connects to the waste pipe when cleaning or trying to clear blockages. If you have water leaking from beneath your bath or sink it is likely to be the waste pipe. Please report this to us and Do Not use the bath/shower/sink if you suspect a leak on the waste until a repair has been carried out.



W.C. is Blocked


If the toilet is blocked and failing to drain away please make reasonable attempts to clear it. If you are unable to clear it please report it to us and do not use until a repair has been carried out. We will attend if the WC or sewer is blocked, however if it is found that inappropriate items have been flushed down the WC you could be liable for the costs incurred.



W.C. Won't Flush


If the WC won’t flush please report it to us. This is not the same as a blockage but sometimes it is reported as if it is as urgent. If the cistern has a ball valve then carefully lift the lid and hook the ball valve. This will flush the bowl and as a temporary measure is quite satisfactory until a repair is carried out. Alternatively you can simply flush a bucket of water down the pan and this will flush the contents away.



Blocked Kitchen Sink, Bathroom basin or Bath


If this has blocked locally (within the property) it is usually caused by food, fat, soap or hair and this is up to tenants to clear. Blockages can usually be cleared with Caustic Soda (follow manufacturer’s instructions) but if you are unable to clear it you should make your own arrangements for a contractor to clear it.


If you live in a house or ground floor flat please check that the gulley that the sink drains into is not blocked (outside the kitchen in the garden or yard). This can prevent the sink from draining properly. The gulley can become blocked by leaves, balls, coke cans etc. If the gulley is blocked and we are called out you may be charged.


If you live in a block of flats, occasionally the gulleys or main stack to the block may become blocked and it will be necessary for the freeholder to arrange for it to be cleared. Please check the property information sheet for their contact details.


To avoid blockages and odours: 

1. Scrape plates into the bin before washing up.

 2. Do not pour fat down the sinks.

 3. Use Soda Crystals and Bleach to clean the waste pipes on a regular basis.

 4. Pour bleach down the overflows as well to combat odours


If after attempting the above you are still unable to clear a blockage please report it to us and we shall arrange for a contractor to attend but please note if the blockage is due to the above issues you will be responsible for the costs incurred. If you have used a caustic solution to try and unblock a drain please report this to us so that the contractor is aware of what has been used.



Heating not Coming On


Your heating will generally be regulated by a thermostat of some kind so if you are still getting hot water (see below) please check the following before reporting problems to us:

 1. Room thermostat – if this is set low the heating will not come on – it should be set at between 18-21 degrees. Please check this first as this is the most common cause for heating problems being reported at the beginning of the cold weather.

 2. Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRV’s)- in some installations each radiator has a thermostat on it – this will control the heating room by room – don’t be surprised if your radiator is off and all the others are on – is your room actually cold – your room may face South.

 3. If the thermostats are covered by clothes, towels etc they will get deactivated due to being satisfied and turn the heat off – check that rooms stats and TRV’s are not covered.

 4. If the pipes are hot but the radiator isn’t or if a radiator is hot at the bottom but cold at the top the system needs attention –Please report this to us as bleeding radiators with a pressurised heating system is not always appropriate on its own.



No Hot Water


Do you have a ‘combi’ or a ‘system’ boiler?


Combi Boiler (Heats water on demand – does not have any storage cylinders):


If you have a combi you can try switching off at the power to ‘reboot’ it or some boilers will have a “reset” button you can use and this sometimes will fire it up. If it doesn’t come on report this as a fault as soon as possible – you will probably not have any heating either.


 System Boiler (Has a hot water storage cylinder): Check the programme settings first – is the thermostat/timer correctly set? Check the cylinder stat – this is on or next to the cylinder – check that it is on and set at a temperature of about 60 degrees. N.B. On some systems you can heat water with the immersion – this is an electric switch close to the cylinder usually with a red light on it or labelled. This is a temporary measure so the fault needs to be reported




Not Enough Hot Water


With a Combi boiler there shouldn’t be any problem and you should have constant hot water. 


Stored hot water will need a re-heat time of approx 25 mins after it has been depleted and the timer will need to be set to “on” for water to re-heat. Try staggering the use of the shower/bath or having shorter showers.




Faulty Shower


When reporting problems with your shower please provide us with as much detail as possible; for example, do you have an electric shower or a mixer tap shower? If there is a leak, is it on the hose, head or shower unit or even the screen?



Low Shower Pressure


 1. The most usual cause of this is that the shower head and/or hose needs descaling – you should regularly descale your shower head and hose by unscrewing it and leaving it to soak overnight in a descaling solution.

 2. Another cause of low shower pressure is that the shower hose or head is split – please report if this is the case and we can arrange for it to be replaced.

 3. If you have an electric shower this heats water on demand – as the temperature of water coming out of the ground is much lower in winter you will need to change the shower to the winter setting (low pressure) during colder months so that the water can reach a satisfactory temperature. This will inevitably reduce the pressure you achieve in the winter.

 4. Local usage – it is common in heavily built up areas and blocks of flats that local water pressure will drop at peak usage times therefore you may experience low shower pressure on week days before 9.00am. Unfortunately there is little that can be done about this but if you feel the pressure in your local area is abnormally low you can report it to Thames Water.




Faulty Gas Hob


The most common cause of a faulty gas hob being reported is poor housekeeping. The rings or burners must be kept clean. If not the gas will burn unevenly and if left to clog up with grease will become less efficient. The ignition spark will also not work if it is allowed to clog with grease. Hobs can always be lit with a match.



Faulty Washing Machine


Please check fuses/isolation switches before reporting any problems to us. Many problems reported with washing machines are avoidable – please take the following steps regularly to keep your washing machine in good working order and odour free.

 1. Clean the soap/fabric conditioner drawer – this can usually be removed for easy cleaning.

 2. Clean door seal and leave door open when not in use to prevent mildew.

 3. Do a “Maintenance Wash” (a boil wash with no clothes or detergent in) at least once per month (add a cup of Washing Soda crystals in the empty drum as well, this will help dissolve any stubborn mould and soap scum).

 4. Do not overload the washing machine.

 5. Check clothes pockets are empty and remove bra wires, collar stays etc before washing.

 6. Check and clean the filter regularly (usually at the front lower section)

 7. Wait for the door to release after a wash – Do not force the door handle when the time lock is on.

 8. If a fault occurs with clothes inside the machine do not attempt to remove your clothes by forcing the door open.



Faulty Fridge Freezer

 1. If you are experiencing any problems with your fridge/freezer please check the following before reporting it to us:

 2. Check fuses/bulbs/switches

 3. Thermostat control is set to around 3-4

 4. Door is being closed properly

 5. Defrost freezer/ice box if necessary – the fridge cannot maintain a temperature if the freezer compartment is wedged open with ice.

 6. The condensing drain at the back of the fridge compartment is clear of food particles and draining properly – these can be regularly cleaned with cotton buds or pipe cleaners.



Lights/Bulbs not working


Tenants are responsible for replacing all light bulbs within the property – please check carefully to ensure you are using the correct light bulbs in fittings and that you have working bulbs before reporting any problems. Most major DIY stores like B&Q and Home Base stock a large selection of light bulbs and most bulbs can be easily found online.



Lights or plug sockets to part of the property not working


This is likely to have been caused by a fuse tripping. Check the fuse board for a switch that needs flipping back on. If a light fitting or appliance is faulty it may trip again, in which case report it to us.



Kitchen Extractor Hood


The tenant is responsible for changing bulbs and filters as necessary. If you experience any other mechanical problem please check the fuse/isolation switch first before reporting it to us.



Vacuum Cleaner


Please empty and replace vacuum cleaner bags regularly and check fuses & clear any blockages to the suction tubes before reporting problems to us.





The Door lock has become awkward and stiff to turn key Spray WD40 on the lock itself, if this doesn’t work report the fault to us.



Mice or other Pest Infestations


Unless the property was infested prior to the start of a tenancy then generally tenants are responsible for dealing with infestations. Rat infestations can be reported to your Local authority who will often deal with them free of charge. Mice are prevalent in London and it is virtually impossible to completely mouse-proof a property, therefore it is important to take action to deter mice:

 1. Clean down work tops and sweep floors after preparing food

 2. Remove rubbish from property daily and keep garden clear of rubbish.

 3. Wash up dishes and utensils after meals.

 4. Keep perishable food in sealed containers on high shelves.

 5. Use mouse bait (from Homebase or B&Q) if you spot any droppings and top it up regularly.



"Damp", Condensation and Mould Growth


If black mildew is appearing on ceilings or walls this will be caused by condensation. The property will have adequate ventilation and heating to prevent mould growth occurring therefore several things could be happening since you moved in:

 1. The heating is being put on for short periods at very high temperatures. You all go out to work so only need the heating on for a short time in the morning and evening; however this causes extremes of temperature which can lead to high moisture content in the air.

 2. The fan to your bathroom or kitchen extract may be switched off, not working or impeded in some way. Please check that it is switched on. Report the problem if the fan seems to be faulty.

 3. There may be too many of you – the flat is let to the optimum number of people – extra guests staying on a regular basis could mean the ventilation cannot cope. You will have to take extra measures to reduce the build up of damp air.

 4. Washing is being left on radiators – increasing the moisture content of the air.




To prevent mould growth you should try to:

 1. Turn the heating down to a more moderate temperature (around 19-20 degrees and leave it on for longer periods- this doesn’t cost more to do).

 2. Keep moisture to a minimum; please only hang washing on airers and use dryers if one has been supplied. Do not leave kettles or pans of water boiling without lids.

 3. Keep bathroom and kitchen doors shut when cooking or bathing.

 4. Do not block window vents or extractors and open windows when you can so that moisture can escape.

 5. Avoid putting large pieces of furniture up against outside walls – this traps cold air against a cold surface.

 6. If mildew does build up it can be washed off with diluted bleach. The mildew should not then return if the measures are taken as outlined above.

 7. The co-operation of residents is essential if condensation is to be reduced.




Repairing/maintenance issues should be reported by email to: lettings@lestersmith.co.uk or using the contact form at www.lestersmith.co.uk Urgent repairing issues can be reported by phone on 020 7585 2990. Issues should not be reported by text or by phoning staff members personal mobiles as this can cause delays.