Summer disruption as gulls terrorise coastal business districts

Holidaymakers and coastal city-dwellers have been warned to be on their guard against airborne attack – by fearless seagulls.

Attacks by sea birds are reported every summer throughout the UK. In Dundee, 73-year-old pensioner Christine Kerr was slashed in the face by a gull and had to be taken to hospital.

Unfortunately, gulls are also targets for attacks by humans. Many have stones thrown at them, others left homeless after their nests are illegally destroyed and large numbers are the target of people taking pot shots at them with airguns.

PestSafe Services specialises in ridding businesses and homes of the airborne pests by bird-proofing buildings.

Using humane methods to deal with nuisance gulls
“Seagulls are no longer afraid of humans,” says PestSafe Services Technical Director Gulliver Hill. “They frequently ‘dive bomb’ people to steal their food and this in itself can be frightening. Gulls and their nests are protected so we must learn to live with them.

“For businesses suffering the effects of nuisance gulls, including fouling and constant loud noise, we have humane methods of dealing with them.”

Understanding seagull psychology
It’s important to understand the bird-brained psychology behind the attacks. Gulls are not especially aggressive birds, however, in May and June, they are nesting.

“The gulls are trying to protect their offspring. If people or animals come too close to a nest the gulls will view them as a threat and try to scare them away,” says Gulliver Hill.

“Herring Gulls in particular are large birds and they will use their body weight to swoop down on an unsuspecting person or animal. If individual scare tactics don’t work they’ll call other birds to join them.”

Bird-proofing business premises
People have used a variety of methods to scare seagulls away, including using plastic model owls and birds of prey, or loud alarms. But the gulls quickly become used to them and they lose their effectiveness as deterrents.

The most effective way of stopping seagulls making a nuisance of themselves to staff and customers is to prevent them from building a nest on the property. PestSafe Services uses bird netting and bird spikes to create physical barriers. They are attached unobtrusively to the outsides of buildings and to roofs – anywhere a gull might perch – and prevent the birds from settling. The birds are not harmed.

Don’t feed the birds
“One of the difficulties is that some people don’t understand what a nuisance gulls can be,” says Gulliver, “so they feed them. This encourages the gulls to see people as a source of food.

“Gulls will also check out uncovered rubbish bins and discarded food and other litter to see if there is anything good to eat.

“It’s very important to make sure that litter, especially from takeaway and coffee outlets, is not left anywhere near your business premises. Speak to neighbouring business owners and see whether you can all work together. We can help you ‘gull-proof’ your bins as well as your building,” says Gulliver.

Keep an umbrella handy
The RSPCA warns businesses not to take matters into their own hands: “Gulls and their nests are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is illegal to intentionally kill, take or injure wild birds. Action can only be taken against them under licence.

“Herring gulls in particular are a species of conservation concern in the UK and evidence indicates that overall herring gull populations are actually in decline.”

Advice from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is to keep an umbrella handy:

“If you’ve got a gull nesting on your roof with youngsters, try to avoid the area. If you absolutely can’t avoid the area, anything held above your head will stop the birds swooping at you. Just use an umbrella to protect yourself.

Waving your hands at the birds is not a good plan. That will just annoy them.”

With help from PestSafe Services and a proper bird-proofing solution, the only time you’ll need an umbrella in future is when it rains.

Biohazards and waste mountains in student accommodation deep clean

The race is now on to ready halls of residence and student flats for their new occupants in the annual summer deep clean.

CleanSafe Services Director, Martin Bull, said: “A student accommodation deep clean takes each room back to its original standard, no matter what state it’s in. This is not the same as a standard scheduled cleaning service.

“In one single hall of residence with 300 rooms and 90 kitchens, we had a week to complete the deep clean. Ovens, fridges and kitchen surfaces had to be left spotless, toilets and showers scrubbed and carpets cleaned.

“Operatives were confronted with dirty toilets, showers and sinks which had to be cleared of waste before they could be used again.

“Body fluids, faeces, and contaminated food are all classed as hazardous waste. Left long enough, they can turn into an environmental hazard putting other occupants at risk,” says Martin.

“Our job is to make each room look as though it hasn’t been lived in before, and we succeeded.”

Moving the waste mountain

Before the deep cleaning could start there was a mountain of waste to remove.

“The students managed to leave behind five tonnes of waste – and this was despite regular scheduled waste collections throughout the year,” said Martin.

“Thankfully our sister company WasteSafe Services was able to provide an emergency waste collection service to remove the rubbish.”

When untidiness becomes an environmental hazard

CleanSafe Services works closely with private student accommodation providers and the facilities management companies used by universities and student property companies to provide student accommodation deep cleaning services.

Student halls and flats can be left in such a poor state that CleanSafe Services operatives need to use biohazard cleaning techniques.

“We always carry specialist sanitising chemicals and equipment, including protective clothing and goggles, just in case,” says Martin.

“We work with student accommodation facilities and property managers, but we have experience across all sectors. We are prepared to deal with just about any cleaning issue including squatters, crime scenes, kitchen fire and flood damage.”

Experienced teams, methodical approach

CleanSafe Services specialises in emergency cleaning services, aiming to attend an emergency cleaning situation within hours.

From deep cleaning a single house to an entire student accommodation block, highly experienced CleanSafe operatives work quickly and methodically to make the premises sparkle.

CleanSafe Services is part of the Safe Group which offers cleaning, waste management, pest control and legionella testing. Some or all services can be included in tailor-made annual maintenance packages.

6 top hacks for end-of-tenancy inspections

This week’s blog post features Ellie Garbett, licensed ARLA letting agent, book keeper, landlord and owner of Habitat Lettings. Read Ellie’s top hacks to help take the pain away during end of tenancy inspections.

Ellie says: “We are fortunate that we haven’t had many absolute horror stories. The majority of tenants are good and leave the property as they found it. But standards of cleanliness differ. You can’t be judgemental, you just have to accept that some people will be comfortable with a lower standard of cleaning than you would be.

“Damage is always a lot easier to prove when it comes to disputes over the deposit. But it is very important to have a good inventory at the start, preferably with photographic evidence of the condition of the property.

“A failure to clean properly is not the same as ‘fair wear and tear’, and tenants need to understand that. Clear communication is essential.”

Here are Ellie’s top six tips for property rental survival.

1. Let it go – emotionally speaking

We find that there are three types of landlords:
• Portfolio landlords who view the property as a business and will see the costs of paying for cleaning or damage repair averaged out across the properties,
• Single property landlords who have proportionally more invested in that property,
• Homeowner turned landlord, a person who has previously lived in the property and is now letting it out.

The third type of landlord is the most emotionally involved with the property and will take any cleaning or damage issues personally. They can find it difficult to accept tenants’ changes.

To survive as a landlord, you have to be able to view the property as a business asset. It generally takes a couple of tenancies before this kind of landlord can let their emotional attachment go.

2. Focus on ovens, extractor fans and bathrooms

If there is a cleaning issue, it will almost always be the oven, the extractor fan or the bathroom – things you don’t necessarily see and can be easy to miss.

A grease build-up in an extractor fan or oven is a fire hazard, as is mould in a bathroom that hasn’t been ventilated regularly.

Explain to tenants clearly at the start of the tenancy that they are required to leave these clean. Take photographs. And show tenants a list of prices charged by commercial cleaners to clean ovens and kitchens.

3. Use the same decorating scheme in all properties

No matter how good your tenants’ cleaning is, it is inevitable that you will have to repaint scuffed walls and freshen up key areas such as the kitchen and living room. New paint makes a property look fresh and clean and makes it easier and quicker to re-let.

If you own multiple properties it is much simpler to use the same neutral colours through each property and keep spare tins of paint. Then when it comes to touch-ups, you will always have the correct colour paint. The same goes for carpets. Keep off-cuts, not least because of the next point —

4. Hair straighteners are the leading cause of damage to carpets

We are waiting for a return to the big hair of the 1980s so hair straighteners will go in the bin. But until then, tenants can cause a lot of damage to carpets and furniture with their heated straightening irons.

Occasionally, if the burn is not too deep, you can literally ‘shave’ the top of the carpet to remove the burnt fibres. More likely you will have to patch it by cutting out the burnt section and inserting a new piece of carpet from your stash of off-cuts (see above), sized to fit.

If this is not possible, you will have to re-carpet the room.

Checking the carpets is one of the reasons we wait until the property is completely empty before making our final inspection.

5. Ask for a higher deposit if there are pets

We tend to ask for a higher deposit if tenants have pets and the majority of people are happy with that. They understand that dogs and cats can cause damage, including scratches on floors and doors. Dogs and cats can also spread fleas through the property which then have to be eradicated by professional pest controllers, and in the worst case, they may not be fully toilet trained.

More importantly though, allergies to pet hair can be very serious and can make people severely ill. If your tenants have kept pets in the property, you will need specialist anti-allergy cleaning services and air purifiers to protect future tenants who may suffer from allergies.

6. Find a spectacularly good commercial cleaning company

A really good commercial cleaning company will have access to chemicals and techniques that are not available to the general public. They will achieve an extremely high standard of cleaning. And they will be able to deal with everything from squatters to dead bodies.

A commercial deep clean may prolong the length of time a property can go without redecorating. And specialist cleaners will carry out emergency cleaning. It’s always useful to have their contact number in your phone.

Finally, it is useful to compare the cost of a commercial clean with the cost of having a property sitting empty. A property that is not sparkling clean will fail to attract tenants, whereas a commercially cleaned property can be back on the market and let within days.

About Habitat Lettings

Habitat Lettings is a young, vibrant agency fully focused on the priorities and needs of the modern day Landlord. Unlike estate agents, their loyalties aren’t divided by dealing with property sales and mortgages. Put simply, they’re a lettings agency which offers great service both to tenants and to landlords.

Habitat Lettings is registered and accredited with major schemes and bodies relating to the property rental industry. They strive to offer a fantastic, friendly, flexible service supported by in-depth knowledge of the property rental market.

JMS powered access is first choice for dockside crane maintenance

If you are maintaining the UK’s largest dockside cranes it makes sense to hire the UK’s largest powered access machines.

JMS Powered Access machines are being used exclusively to maintain dockside cranes at the DP World London Gateway Port on the River Thames Estuary.

A crane maintenance contractor is using a range of aerial platforms hired from JMS – including ultra booms and scissor lifts – to work on the cranes, which at 138 metres tall, are among the biggest in the world.

Maintaining the cranes is vital to loading and unloading operations at the port, one of the most important commercial import-export gateways in the UK.

Aerial platforms ideal for crane inspections and repairs
The powered access platforms hired from JMS have been selected to support the repair and servicing of automatic stacking cranes at the port.

Powered access platforms used in the crane maintenance operations include:

  • The JLG 1250AJP articulating boom lift, which has a working height of 40.3 metres, and a reach of 19.3 metres
  • The JLG 1350SJP telescopic boom lift, with a working height of 43.3 metres, and a particularly impressive reach of 24.38 metres
  • And the Skyjack 4632 electric scissor lift, which has a working height of 11.75 metres, and a 1.22-metre roll-out deck.
  • The aerial platforms are used to carry out structural inspections and facilitate the removal and installation of parts, including electric motors and lifting equipment.

Key benefits delivered by the mini fleet of JMS aerial platforms on site include industry-leading safety features, flexibility, and the speed and precision with which they can be operated in a live dockside environment.

Speed vital for planned and reactive crane maintenance
DP World London Gateway is a continuous high-speed operation, with average truck-turnaround time of under 40 minutes and an average container turnaround time of 20 minutes.

JMS Regional Account Manager Paul Hollands said: “With this incredible turn-around time, every minute lost when a crane or automated loading machine is out of action is a significant cost to the business.

“The cranes require planned and reactive maintenance that is fast and safe. The JMS powered access machines hired for dockside operations, meet those requirements perfectly.”

“The JLG ultra-booms are powered by low-emission diesel engines so can operate continuously, even in poor weather conditions that would prevent some other platforms from working.

“This is important because the automated stacking area of the port will only close in exceptionally adverse weather, and only for an hour or two at a time.”

Largest ultra-booms available for hire
JMS’s aerial platform hire fleet has some of the largest ultra-booms available for hire in the UK, with the JLG 1350SJP and the JLG 1250AJP being just two examples.

Both platforms are equipped with articulating jibs for fast and safe platform placement. Both also have four-wheel-drive and four-wheel-steer plus oscillating axles for superb worksite mobility, which is essential in controlled spaces like docks.

The excellent reach of both machines allows them to be placed in safe and secure locations, without disrupting ground-level operations. The JLG 1250AJP also has JLG’s QuickStick boom design, greatly reducing lift and lower speeds.

Electric scissor lifts with large platform capacity
The Skyjack 4632 battery-powered scissor lifts, the largest of Skyjack’s Conventional Series of electric scissors, are used to maintain cranes and lifting equipment taken into the port’s maintenance centre.

Their 317kg platform capacity and large working platform area, plus the roll-out deck, allows crane maintenance engineers to work up and around large pieces of equipment, carrying all the equipment and parts they need.

Meeting powered access needs with great service
Paul Hollands said: “JMS provides the right powered access machines, even for these challenging operations, and we also pride ourselves on the level of service we deliver as well.

“We will always work closely with clients, such as this one at DP World London Gateway, select the right access machines for working at height safely, effectively and sustainable, and then keep them operating in perfect condition while they are needed.”

JMS’s access platform fleet is in constant use at the highly-automated deep-sea container port and logistics hub.

As well as having record-breaking cranes, there are 60 automated stacking cranes and 180 transaction bays. The port also has the UK’s longest rail terminal and three rail-mounted gantry cranes.

JMS Powered Access Hire and Training
To find out more about ultra-boom hire and scissor lift hire options from JMS, including the powered access machines used at DP World London Gateway, call us today.

JMS also has other powered access equipment available for hire, such as tracked spider booms, and low-level access machines, including personnel masts.

If necessary, we can supply fully-trained and highly-experienced powered access operators to support your project. JMS also delivers a range of training including IPAF training, so your teams can always work safely at height.

Contact JMS Powered Access on 0845 457 0000 or email hire@jms.co.uk