Home improvement and gardens

We've brought together some common home improvement and garden issues, to advise when we can help and when you need to seek our permission to make changes.

Use our Contact Us form to get in touch

Curtain Battens

Curtain battens are used where it is not possible to drill straight into the wall to fix a curtain pole or track.  We are not able to take responsibility for repairing or replacing broken curtain battens.

Decorating advice - Wallpaper

If you decide to strip wallpaper, it is best to use traditional methods to remove the paper.  We recommend that you soak the paper first and scrape it carefully off the wall, rather than using a wallpaper steamer, particularly in our older properties.  Steamers tend to bring off old plaster as well as the paper, especially on old lath-and-plaster walls. For painted paper, you will need to score/scratch through the painted top coat first, so that the water can soak through.

After the wallpaper has been removed, the plaster may need to be inspected and possibly repaired. We will re-plaster if there is an underlying problem with the plaster itself but not because a wall lacks a perfectly smooth finish. A heavier paper or painted anaglypta will cover any irregularities in the wall better than thin wallpaper. 

Decorate only one room at a time, as re-plastering is not an urgent repair.

If you live in a listed property, we will have to apply for listed building consent, which takes at least two months to obtain.

If you have any concerns, please contact our Resident Services team.

Decorating advice - Ceilings

Treat ceilings in the same way as you treat walls. If the ceiling paper shows ridges or irregular lines running across it, the plaster may be loose behind the paper – please contact us to arrange an inspection.

We do not allow the fitting of polystyrene tiles to ceilings.

Decorating advice - Woodwork

The easiest way to redecorate woodwork is to prepare it well before painting.  Rub down the surface with a fine/medium grade of glass paper to provide a key for your new paint and wash it with a sugar soap solution. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for applying the sugar soap and the paint.


We are responsible for ensuring your floors are in good repair, but we do not provide carpets or vinyl / lino flooring. 

You must request our permission to install hard wood laminate flooring.  We will not give permission for this in flats in order to minimise noise problems between floors.

Garden advice - keeping your garden looking it's best

  • Please keep your garden tidy and free of rubbish (including animal excrement)
  • Maintain hedges and lawns regularly without altering the property boundary
  • Store bins tidily and put away after collection
  • Dispose of your garden waste responsibly

Garden advice - Trees

If you want to reduce or cut down a tree in your garden, please contact your local Council to check whether the tree is subject to a Tree Preservation Order, in which case you will need the consent to progress. In Letchworth, you may also need the approval of the Letchworth Heritage Foundation.

Garden advice - Struggling to manage your garden?

If you are no longer able to look after your garden, please ask relatives or friends to help. Please contact us before the garden gets overgrown as we may be able to provide details of agencies that can help you.

Garden advice - Letchworth Garden City residents

Please note that the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation needs to grant permission for any changes to gardens, particularly front gardens. Some companies will try and persuade you that you don't need this permission; you do! (Most homes are restricted to no more than 50% hardstanding in their front gardens.)

Garden advice - Shared access with neighbours

Some of our properties have an access path to the rear garden which runs through the neighbour’s garden. These paths were designed to allow access to the rear garden for bulky items such as rubbish bins, bicycles and transporting garden materials.

These paths may not suit all of our residents, however they are rights of way and rely on the courtesy and co-operation of both parties.

If your rear garden access runs through your neighbour’s garden, then consideration and understanding should be given to your neighbour and the path used only when necessary. 

If your garden has a shared access path running through it, you cannot refuse or restrict the use of the path for example by putting a lock on a shared gate.  If either party wishes to put a lock on a gate, then this should be done only with the agreement of the other.  

The path should not be used as the main access to the property and if you have a dog, you should take precautions to ensure that it does not cause nuisance to your neighbour using the path.  Your children’s safety is your responsibility.

Garden advice - Communal gardens

If you live in a property with communal grounds (for example a grassed area) we will maintain this for you and the cost  will be charged to you as a service charge. 

Ponds and Water Features

As with any permanent feature, you must obtain written permission before beginning any works.

If you have installed a water feature in your garden, you are responsible for its maintenance and must remove it before you move out of your property.

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