Shared areas

If you live in a block with shared areas, you must make sure they are kept clear of personal possessions and other items.

Hazards include but are not limited to: pushchairs and prams, children’s toys, play equipment, furniture, unwanted bedding/mattresses, rubbish bags, wheeled bins, door mats, mobility scooters, bicycles and motorcycles, shopping trolleys, lockers and cabinets, plant pots, washing machines, tumble dryers, clothes airers and other goods awaiting disposal.

Goods stored, or belongings and rubbish left in shared areas, can be a serious hazard. In the event of a fire, they can block escape routes, block access for emergency services and potentially be subject to arson. They can also be a trip hazard and pose a climbing danger for children as well as being unpleasant to look at for other residents living in the block.

Shared areas include all lobbies, communal hallways, walkways, staircases, balconies and landings, bin chutes and refuse storage areas, plant and utility cupboards, cleaner's cupboards, access paths, communal gardens and drying areas. They also include communal lounges, laundry rooms, bathrooms and other shared facilities in sheltered housing or the hostel.

The shared areas of your blocks are owned by Tandridge District Council. We have a legal obligation to ensure these areas remain free of items that might cause or contribute to a fire, as well as any items which might present a hazard or obstruct your means of escape in the unlikely event of a fire.

There are a number of conditions in your tenancy or lease agreement relating to the use of shared areas including:

  • You are responsible for the conduct of anyone living in or visiting your home.
  • Personal items, unwanted items or rubbish must not be left in shared areas and may be removed without notice.
  • Dogs must be kept on a lead and not exercised or allowed to foul in shared areas.
  • You must not place any play-equipment, sheds or other structures in any shared gardens or grounds.
  • You must not keep or use bottled gas, paraffin, petrol or any other dangerous material in your home or in shared areas, without written agreement of the Council.
  • You must dispose of your rubbish in the dedicated area including using any recycling facilities. You must not dump large items in shared areas.
  • You must not store mopeds, motorbikes, mobility scooters, bicycles, prams or buggies inside any shared area.

A detailed risk assessment is carried out on all our blocks every four years with an intermediate review of two years in between. This assessment considers fire risks and other health and safety concerns and identifies the measures and actions needed to reduce these risks. Between formal assessments, our officers and contractors monitor the condition and use of shared areas to make sure they are safe.

If during an inspection we find that materials are stored or left in the shared areas, we will try to identify the owner and notify them that the items must be removed. If the items are not removed straight away, our officers and contractors will arrange for them to be cleared to keep all residents safe. Any costs incurred in clearing items may be recharged to individual residents or recovered through the service charge.

As well as causing a hazard, clutter in shared area prevent our cleaners from being able to do their job. This is a service that tenants, and leaseholders are charged for through their service charges.

We do understand that storage space is limited, especially for customers in small flats. However, for everyone’s safety, it is very important that any personal possessions are kept inside your home or in designated storage areas such as pram sheds where these are provided. In some areas, the Council may have garages available to rent near to your home.

It is illegal for you to smoke in indoor shared areas. You can smoke in shared outdoor spaces such as communal gardens, if you are not breaking the law for example by smoking illegal substances. You must act reasonably and considerately to your neighbours; please do not smoke near to open windows or shared entrances and make sure you dispose of your cigarette butts and rubbish responsibly.

The Council is responsible for the maintenance of shared gardens. This includes the cutting of grass, shrubs, beds and trees and the picking of litter. The cost of this service is recovered through the service charge.

Shared gardens are for the benefit of all residents. You are responsible for the behaviour of your household and visitors and must ensure that they do not cause nuisance, annoyance or harassment or conduct any criminal activity while in the garden.

You will need to ask our permission first and we will consider each request on its merits. We will carry out a risk assessment to make sure that the request does not pose a hazard or obstruction to residents or visitors, and we will take the views of your neighbours into consideration. If permission is granted, we may attach reasonable conditions to the permission. If permission is refused, we will explain the reason for this. Permission may be withdrawn if the arrangement is causing neighbourhood disputes or if the garden is not maintained to an acceptable standard.

Gardens are for the enjoyment of all residents; you cannot exclude any resident from accessing any part of the garden.

Portable garden furniture such as deckchairs and folding tables can be used but should be folded and put away when not in use.

If you want to install more permanent garden furniture, such as a bench or picnic table, you must ask our permission. We will carry out a risk assessment to make sure that the request does not pose a hazard or obstruction to residents or visitors and does not interfere with the grass cutting or other garden maintenance. We will take the views of your neighbours into consideration. Permission will not be unreasonably withheld but may be subject to conditions relating to the location, installation (including the requirement to provide a paved hard standing) and ongoing maintenance. Permission may be withdrawn if the arrangement is causing neighbourhood disputes or if the furniture is not maintained to an acceptable standard.

Permission would not normally be granted for furniture that blocks a pathway, causes an obstruction or gets in the way of grass cutting or other garden maintenance. 

Shared gardens are for the benefit of all residents, so you will need to be prepared to allow other residents to use any fixed garden furniture that you are permitted to install.

The Council reserves the right to remove any item of furniture or other item that belongs to residents but that may cause an obstruction or hazard.

You can have children’s toys, including small paddling pools, in a communal garden provided they are played with under adult supervision and are put away when not in use. Toys should not be allowed to obstruct pathways and access points and should not be left unattended in the garden.

Semi-permanent and permeant structures such as trampolines, climbing frames, swings, slides and large paddling pools/swimming pools are not permitted in shared gardens.

Yes, you can but please act reasonably and considerately towards your neighbours. Do not obstruct footpaths, sunbathe under other peoples’ windows, talk loudly or play loud music. Please do not use the shared garden at unreasonable times and clear away any rubbish and personal belongings when you leave the garden.

No, pets should be exercised off site. You must clear up and dispose of any mess that your pet makes in the shared garden. You will be responsible for any damage caused by an animal kept at or visiting your property. Dogs may accompany you if you are sitting in the garden but must be always on a lead and under control.

If you live in a flat or maisonette you must get our permission to keep a pet.

No, this is a health and safety hazard and must not happen. Please report any such incidents to us.