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Basildon Urban District Council - 1956 Tenants Handbook extract

The following is a selection of the main subject headings taken from the 1956 edition of Basildon Urban District Council's Tenants Handbook. Due to the length of text it has been transcribed in two parts.

For part two click here.


         This handbook has been prepared for circulation among the tenants of the Council in the hope that it will be of assistance to them. It contains particulars of the Council's regulations and conditions of tenancy, notes on the maintenance of the house and the garden and useful hints on first aid and what to do in case of fire.

         The Council sincerely hope that tenants will recognise that they have a direct interest in the maintenance and protection of the property they occupy and that by themselves repairing small defects when they first occur, they can do much to reduce the cost of maintenance and to increase their enjoyment of their houses.

Basildon Urban District Council

Clerk of the Council:
A. Hatt, LL.B., D.P.A.,

Deputy Clerk of the Council:
A. J. G. Cooper, LL.B., D.P.A.,

L. R. Cousins.

Engineer and Surveyor:
S. A. Wadsworth, A.M.I.C.E., A.M.I.Mun.E.

Medical Officer of Health:
Dr. P. X. O'Dwyer, M.B., B.Ch., D.P.H.

Chief Public Health Inspector:
A. L. Leddon, M.S.I.A., Cert. S.I.B.

                  98, HIGH STREET
                           BILLERICAY, ESSEX

Telephone Nos:
162-165, 653/4.

Regulations and Conditions of Tenancy

         The Council have made their conditions of tenancy as simple as possible as they do not wish their tenants to be subjected to any unnecessary restrictions. But some conditions are necessary in the interests of tenants generally - for instance, in the absence of tenancy conditions a tenant might carry on a noisy business to the annoyance of many of his neighbours.

         The conditions are made for the benefit of all tenants, and must be complied with.

         The present regulations and conditions are set out on the back of the Rent Card and should be studied by all tenants.

Repairs and Decorations

         The Council require tenants to be responsible for some part of the maintenance of these premises and for all internal decorations, and have adopted a scheme whereby tenants who carry out their own internal decorations and keep their properties in good condition will qualify for a rent rebate once every two years. Tenants are responsible for the cost of the following items : this work will be carried out by the Council at the tenant's expense and payment will have to be made in advance in accordance with the schedule of fixed prices.

 (a) Replacement of all broken glass to windows and doors.

 (b) Replacement of keys or provision of new locks necessitated by loss of keys.

 (c) Replacement of broken window catches and stays.

 (d) Relaying of wood block flooring where this is necessary due to misuse by the tenant by the application of water or other liquid or substance.

         Tenants must themselves arrange to carry out any of the following items at their own expense, unless the Council elect to carry out the work at the tenant's expense.

 (1.) Repair or replacement of broken electric switches, power plugs and fuses.

 (2.) Replacement of all fire accessories to Fulham or similar type grates, including fire basket and front refractory brick (but not fire bricks) within 12 months of fixing or renewal.

 (3.) Clearance of blocked house drains where the blockage is due to tenant's neglect or action.

 (4.) Clearance of sink waste pipes in cases where cleaning eyes are provided to traps.

 (5.) Wilful damage of any kind.

         The Council are responsible for any structural work required to the houses, for external decorations, and for other maintenance items not listed above, so as to keep the property in habitable condition.

         The Council are anxious to maintain the best possible relations with their tenants, and this rent rebate scheme is designed so as to permit tenants to carry on with their own internal decorations without having to ask for the Council's permission. You may therefore, redecorate the interior of your house whenever you wish, taking care to observe the following exceptions :

 (i) No paint to be applied to walls except in bathrooms, kitchens or sculleries, and dado to staircases and halls where this has previously been painted.

 (ii) No paper to be applied on to an existing papered wall without first stripping the old paper.

 (iii) Paint, paper and distemper not to be applied to dirty surfaces - thoroughly clean down first.

 (iv) No paper to be applied to walls and ceilings in Temporary Bungalows and Airey Type Houses.

 (v) Wallboard and plasterboard surfaces not to be rubbed too hard-simply wash off old distemper and size before applying new distemper wash.

 (vi) No inferior quality or highly coloured materials to be used.

 (vii) Artificial stonework, terrazzo brickettes and similar materials not to be painted or distempered, or treated with coloured polish.

         Do not hesitate to seek advice from the Surveyor to the Council in cases of difficulty or doubt.

         The rent rebate scheme works on the following lines :-

 (a) A rebate equal to one week's rent per annum will be granted if the premises are found satisfactory after inspection by the Council's officers; this rebate will be payable once in every two years, so if your premises are in good condition when they are inspected, you will get a rebate equal to two weeks' rent every two years.

No rebate will be payable if the rent is in arrear, and the amount of rebate is that of the net rent and does not include rates.

 (b) Inspections are spread over the year, and the rebate should normally be payable after the inspection has been made on each housing estate.

 (c) It may be that in exceptional cases certain tenants would wish to be excluded from the rent rebate scheme by reason of the fact that they are unable to carry out their own interior decorations, for example, widows, invalids and others. Any tenant who wishes to be excluded from the scheme should make application in writing to the Clerk of the Council giving full reasons, and such application will be considered on its merits by the Council.

 (d) Only on a normal change of tenancy will reasonable repairs and decorations be carried out by the Council, so that a tenant moving into a property which has been previously occupied will not be prejudiced. When an exchange of tenancies is effected at the tenants' request, the Council will not carry out repairs or redecorations.

 (e) If you terminate your tenancy and this does not coincide with the end of a two-yearly period, no proportionate rebate will be made for the period that you have been in occupation. However, if you transfer from one Council to another, then your rights to the rebate will be transferred with you.

 (f) The Council reserve the right to alter or amend this scheme in the light of circumstances prevailing at any time, and any question arising on the application of the scheme will be decided by the Council whose decision will be final. The Council feel that this scheme is beneficial to all the tenants and should avoid a good deal of unnecessary applications to the Council in respect of minor repairs on the one hand and permissions to redecorate on the other.

Advice to Tenants

         There are some matters that may arise during your tenancy on which you may welcome information. For your convenience several such matters are dealt with below.

1. Drains, Sinks and Waste Pipes.

         Drains should never become blocked unless rags, cotton and other waste that has no business in drains finds its way there. However, accidents arise in the best regulated families and so you may find the following hints useful.

         Congealed grease may partially close pipes and drains and so form a trap where small pieces of solid waste, that otherwise would do no harm, may collect and cause stoppage. It is a good thing, therefore, to pour boiling water in which some washing soda has been dissolved, down the pipes from time to time. A little cleansing powder too, sprinkled on your sink and left there for an hour or so will efficiently cleanse it.

         Sometimes it happens that the water from the sink, wash basin or bath runs away very slowly. This is usually due to small pieces of cloth or sponge having collected in the " U " or bend of the pipe immediately below where it is joined to the sink, basin or bath. There is an instrument consisting of a wooden handle attached to a rubber cap that can be used for clearing such stoppages. You will find a plug beneath the bend in the pipe ; this plug may be unscrewed and the stoppage cleared with wire. Don't forget to put a bowl or bucket beneath the bend before you unscrew the plug and remember to put the plug back when the job is done.

         Your house will be much sweeter if you clean and flush the outside gullies occasionally.

2. Fireplace and Flues.

         Fireplaces serve a dual purpose. They are there to hold the fire and also to act as ventilators. When there is no fire they are still acting in their second capacity so the chimney should not be stuffed with rags or paper.

         A fire in your chimney may render you liable to legal proceedings, but there is no fear of this happening if you have all chimneys swept regularly.

3. Floors.

         Ground floors to Council houses, flats and bungalows have a damp proof course visible from outside, just above the tarred plinth; this is to prevent damp rising from the ground up the walls. Soil and coal etc. should not therefore be allowed to pile against the wall, hiding the damp proof course.

         Many houses nowadays have solid ground floors made of a composition material which are not to be covered with linoleum. Solid floors should always be allowed to breathe, but carpeting and rugs may be laid. Composition floors can easily be cleaned with warm water and mild soap only. The minimum of cleaning only is necessary when the floor is periodically treated with a good quality wax polish. When the floor has received two or three coats of such treatment, dirt, etc., will only rest on the surface and can easily be removed.

         Wood block floors must not be covered by linoleum or washed or treated with liquid lino paint, but carpets and rugs may be laid. Any damage caused through mistreatment will be the tenants responsibility. The floor may be treated with a light stain, one of which can be made by yourself by adding one teaspoonful of permanganate of potash to one pint of water (permanganate of potash can be obtained from most chemists). After staining the blocks should be polished with a good quality wax polish.

4. Frost Precautions.

         It is to your own advantage to make sure that reasonable precautions have been taken to prevent your water supply becoming frozen. Please do not wait until the first cold of winter to take these precautions and as soon as your tenancy begins adopt the following suggestions :-

 1. Locate the main stop tap to the house.

 2. Lag all exposed pipes by wrapping hessian, rag or straw around them.

 3. In frosty weather -

  (a) Turn off the stop tap each night (if you live in a ground floor flat consult the tenant of the upper flat).

  (b) Flush all water closets and in outside W.C.'s turn off the stop tap where there is one.

  (c) If the property you are occupying is fitted with a continuous burning fire you should ensure that it is kept alight during the night, or if you leave the property during the day, by " banking up." However, at the same time you should take the precaution of placing a guard in front of the fire - see Fire Precautions, item 6. If the fire is kept in during these periods it will ensure that the hot water system is kept at an even temperature and will greatly assist in avoiding freeze-ups.

 4. Dripping taps not only waste water but cause frozen waste pipes. The Southend Waterworks' Company will re-washer taps free of charge and applications for this service should be made direct to the Company and not to the Engineer and Surveyor's Department. In the area covered by the Langdon Hills Water Undertaking, applications should be made to the Engineer and Surveyor's Department.

         In spite of these precautions you may still get burst pipes in severe weather and if you do please notify the Engineer and Surveyor's Department as soon as possible.

5. Outbuildings.

         The Council are most anxious to maintain the amenities of their various estates, and with this in mind have provided all post-war dwellings with brick stores. However, sheds, fowl-houses and other similar structures may be erected provided the tenants obtain the prior approval of the Engineer and Surveyor as to siting and design.

6. Picture Hanging.

         Please do not drive nails into the walls. Picture hooks are quite cheap and repairing plaster may easily be an expensive job.

7. Radiators.

         Certain post-war houses are fitted with radiators. The amount of heat given by each radiator is controlled by a small wheel valve fitted on the top (the lockshield at the bottom should not be interfered with). If you desire a large quantity of hot water for washing purposes it is advisable to turn off the heat to these radiators by turning the valve in a clockwise direction not forgetting to turn it back to its original position afterwards. During the summer months you may also wish to prevent the radiators emitting heat and this can be done in the same way.

8. Solid Fuel Appliances.

         The following are applicable to all normal solid fuel appliances :-

 (1) Use the most suitable fuel available.

 (2) Pay particular attention to the regulation of the draught by setting the dampers correctly ; don't let the fire roar.

 (3) Empty the ash pan regularly and don't let the ash pan pile to the bottom bars, otherwise the air supply to the fire will be stopped and the fire bars will burn and buckle.

 (4) Clean the flues of the appliance once a week and have the chimney swept regularly.

 (5) Don't poke the fire too hard or you will break the firebricks.

 (6) Don't overheat the water or let it boil in the cistern ; this will cause the pipes to fur up.

 (7) Take care of the removable parts of the appliance ; they can easily get lost or broken.

 (8) Always use a fireguard if you have children.

Smokeless Fuel.

         Tenants should find out from the local fuel overseer or from their supplier what the possibilities are of obtaining supplies of smokeless fuel suitable for their appliances. In all cases where it is available and suitable smokeless fuel should be used in preference to ordinary bituminous coal.

Open Fires with Back Boilers.

         If your fire has a boiler at the back for heating the water, make sure that the flueway under the boiler is kept clean and free from ash, as otherwise it will become choked and the draught will be poor. When laying the fire each day, clean off any soot which may have been deposited on the boiler surface as this tends to form a hard skin over the boiler and act as an insulator.

         Fires with back boilers are usually controlled by a damper which when open, causes the heat and the flames to go under and up the back of the boiler before entering the chimney. There is no need to have a very large fire in order to heat the water. Keep the fire-bed above the level of the bottom flue opening, and cover with slack. This will prevent cold air from entering the boiler flue.

         Maximum room heat is obtained with the fire cover open, the air inlet open and the boiler damper closed. For less room heat reduce the air inlet opening.

         For overnight or other long period burning, clear ash from grate with poker, fill firebox with fuel, close fire-cover where provided, and boiler damper and air inlet.

For Water Heating only in Warm Weather.

         Close the fire cover, and regulate the supply of air to the fire by means of the boiler damper and air inlet.

9. Television Aerials.

         Applications for permission to erect television aerials must be made to the Council's Engineer and Surveyor, who will decide in each particular case whether the aerial may be affixed to the property or erected on a pole in the garden.

10. Transfers of Tenancy, Sub-Letting, & Taking in of Lodgers.

         While you are living in one of the Council's houses your family may increase or decrease. For these or other reasons you may wish to leave your present house and move into a larger or smaller one. The Council is always prepared to consider sympathetically applications from tenants for transfers, but please remember that there is a shortage of accommodation and it is not always possible to make such arrangements in a short time. The Council will expect you to leave your present accommodation clean and in good condition.

         Tenants wishing to sub-let or to take in lodgers must make application to the Clerk of the Council; each application will be considered on its merits.

         In the event of permission being given to take in lodgers an addition to the weekly rent of 4/- will be made.

11. Water Closets.

         Rags, large quantities of paper or cardboard will block your W.C. It does happen sometimes however that a W.C. becomes blocked even with normal use, and if this happens you must notify the Engineer and Survey's department immediately so that the defect can be remedied. Of course, if the stoppage is found to be caused by your negligence you may be called upon to pay for the work.

         Overflowing cisterns are usually due to wear on the ball valve washer or grit in the water main and occasionally by the ball valve sticking. The trouble can often be remedied by holding down the ball for a second or two, allowing the grit etc. to be removed by the flow of water. You should try this first before reporting an overflowing cistern.

12. Windows and Paintwork.

         Please see that your casement windows are securely fastened when they are shut and that the stays are adjusted. They should not be left open in high winds. Accidents arising through failure to observe this precaution may prove to be costly. A few minutes spent in oiling the hinges (and for that matter, hinges and locks on doors and gates) will prevent damage from rust and corrosion.

         External paintwork costs a great deal and will last a long time if it is cared for, but it is often damaged by kicks or knocks. Marks from kicks on doors by children and scratches from dogs cannot be removed, but other marks and stains can usually be wiped off with a chamois leather and water.


         Council houses are insured by the Council against fire and other risks, but insurance of furniture and other contents is a matter for individual tenants. You would be well advised at least to insure your furniture against fire by damage.

General Amenities

         The Council spend a good deal of money on making their estates attractive for the benefit of tenants and their children. Grass verges are laid out, trees and shrubs etc. are planted. The Council realise that however well a house is kept, however neatly a garden is done, the effect will be cancelled by an untidy appearance of roads and verges. Therefore, in providing and maintaining these general amenities the Council expect in return the co-operation of tenants in seeing that tracks are not made across verges nor holes dug in them ; that verges, open spaces and front gardens are not used as parking grounds, and that no damage is done to trees and shrubs. The Council have provided garages and special parking spaces on their estates and owners of cars are requested to use these and not leave cars on the grass verges and open spaces.

         Most applicants for Council houses are anxious to be granted a tenancy at the earliest possible moment, and the Council therefore let their houses as soon as they are completed. This sometimes means that houses are occupied before fences are erected, and perhaps before footpaths are completed : but most tenants willingly accept any such minor inconveniences if it means getting a house a little earlier, and the Council do all they can to ensure that all works are completed as soon as possible.

Electricity in Your New Home

The Electric Cooker.

         In order to obtain the utmost efficiency, the following points are well worth noting :-

           Use flat base utensils, i.e. those made of heavy gauge aluminium with a base ground perfectly flat for good contact between utensil and hotplate.

           Use an electric kettle to boil small quantities of water for making tea, etc. The saving in both time and electricity more than repays the slight additional cost of a kettle.

           Use the grill boiler instead of a frying pan for bacon, steaks, chops, etc., and at the same time place pans on the top of the grill boiler to make the utmost use of the electrical energy.

         If you are using an electric cooker for the first time, you are invited to avail yourself of the Eastern Electricity Board's Demonstrators, who will call upon you as a routine matter in any case after the installation of your electric cooker, and whose services can be obtained on request at any time to suit your individual needs, to give a demonstration and friendly assistance in your own home.

The Electric Wash-Boiler.

         The 19-gallon electric wash-boiler is provided with three heat controls - full, medium and low - the low heat position costing about 1d an hour.

         The operation of a wash-boiler is simple, but for the best results the following points are worth remembering :-

           Do not overfill the wash-boiler.

           Do not pack the clothes too tightly.

           Mix soap powder to a paste before adding to the water in the wash-boiler and before inserting the clothes.

           Never allow the wash-boiler to boil dry.

           Let the wash-boiler cool a little before emptying the water after the week's wash is completed.

           Clean out the wash-boiler after use by rinsing with water and wiping dry. Never use scouring powders.

         The wash-boiler can be used for boiling the Christmas pudding and also as a sterilizer for the bottling of fruit. Advice on this subject can be obtained at the Eastern Electricity Board's Service Centres or from their Demonstrators.

Hot Water by Electricity.

         In most houses the main supply of hot water is provided by a boiler behind the living-room coal fire - an efficient and satisfactory arrangement for those periods of the year when it is necessary to have the living-room fire alight.

         During the summer months, however, it is not always desirable or convenient to have the living-room fire alight (apart from the question of conserving your stock of coal), and this is when an electric immersion heater in the hot water storage tank is most useful for baths, kitchen sink and laundry requirements. The thermostatic device incorporated in the immersion heater ensures that the supply of electricity to the heater is automatically cut off once the desired temperature has been reached. As the water is used, the automatic device switches on again to raise the temperature to the desired level and switches off again once this temperature has been reached, thus ensuring that hot water is always available on demand.

Renewal of Fuses.

         Cartridge Type Fuses. First turn the main switch handle into the position marked " OFF." Open the fuse-box cover and proceed in accordance with the printed instructions inside the cover.

         Renewable Fuses. First turn the main switch handle into the position marked " OFF." Open the fuse-box cover, withdraw one fuse carrier at a time, inspect, and the blown fuse is usually apparent at once. Replace with the correct size fuse wire. (Cards of fuse wire are available from the Board's Service Centres). Replace the fuse carrier, close fuse-box cover and turn main switch into the " ON " position.

         If the fuse blows again, there is obviously a fault in either the wiring or the apparatus and you are advised to report the matter to one of the Service Centres listed below.

         Under no circumstances attempt to open those parts of the installation sealed with a lead seal.


         Enquiries for repairs and maintenance during normal working hours should be addressed to the :-

   Eastern Electricity Board,
         High Street, Wickford.
                  Telephone: Wickford 3223.

 or the Eastern Electricity Board,
         85 London Road, Southend-on-Sea.
                  Telephone: Southend 43304.

         When in doubt about any aspect of Eastern Electricity Service, please do not hesitate to contact any of our Service Centres at :-

   Whitmore Way, Basildon.
High Street, Wickford.
London Road, Hadleigh.
Elm Road, Leigh-on-Sea.
Hamlet Court Road, Westcliff-on-Sea.
London Road, Southend-on-Sea.

Gas in the Home

         Many houses of today are fitted with clean, economical and efficient labour-saving devices. The gas industry has a proud record of progress in adapting gas to modern needs and is helping to make happy labour-saving homes possible for all by offering inexpensive and reliable forms of apparatus.

         Gas appliances are easy to manage and keep clean and running costs are low.

         The advantages of gas cooking are its simplicity and ease of control. The correct heat is easily maintained and very little attention is required. It is economical and there is no waiting for the heat. Most cookers have automatic controls by which it is possible to cook whole menus without attention after placing the food in the oven.

Gas Cookers.

         Keep your gas cooker clean, absolutely free from dirt and grease and it will give you excellent service. The following are just a few hints on the maintenance and use of gas cookers.

         Hotplate. If the cooker is finished in porcelain enamel, clean with a warm soapy cloth, bars and burners may also be cleaned in this way each day. Occasionally wash the loose parts in hot soapy water (do not use soda), dry these parts thoroughly and polish with a little furniture cream or black boot polish.

         Oven. The oven should be washed while still warm after use with hot soapy water, and a little scouring powder. Burnt fat inside the oven can be removed by a solvent.

         Loose parts of the oven should be taken out occasionally and washed in hot soapy water. After drying smear with a little olive oil to prevent rust.

         Have loose taps attended to immediately.
To use your gas cooker economically -

         Always heat the oven for fifteen minutes before cooking, or if it is a cooker with automatic control follow the simple instructions on the chart.

         Do not waste gas. Turn off the burner the moment you have finished using it. Never put on more water to boil than is actually required. Never allow flames to flicker round or up the sides of a kettle or saucepan as this wastes gas.

         Kettles and pans should be thoroughly cleaned. The same utensils should not be used indiscriminately on a coal fire and a gas cooker. Soot on the bottom of a pan wastes gas.

Gas Wash Boilers.

         A plentiful supply of hot water is available within half an hour of lighting. Carefully clean the wash-boiler after washing clothes. This prevents a deposit of grease from clothes, soap, etc., and also prevents rust. If there is an unpleasant smell from the wash-boiler it means that the burners need adjustment. This may also occur in other types of gas water heaters and should be reported to the Gas Board at once.

The Gas Refrigerator.

         Refrigeration is not only a source of comfort and enjoyment but a direct contribution to our health and domestic economy. The gas refrigerator is automatically controlled, silent and very economical to use.
         An escape of gas should be reported immediately, but before reporting see that the main tap is turned off. This tap is fixed near the meter.


 District Office and Works:

         Butts Road, Stanford-le-Hope.
                  Tel. No.: Stanford-le-Hope 2121.


         High Road, Pitsea.
                  Tel. No.: Vange 2201.

         High Street, Billericay.
                  Tel. No.: Billericay 93.

         High Street, Wickford.
                  Tel. No.: Wickford 2082.

         Tenants giving direct instructions to the North Thames Gas Board for work or repairs to be carried out will be responsible for the cost incurred.

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