Covid-19 Response - Frequently Asked Questions

We have included below the most frequently asked questions from our customers in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact on our services.

We hope you find this document helpful, but of course, please contact us if you have a question or concern which is not answered here. You can call us on 01223 315036 or email us at info@hhs.org.uk

As new information becomes available we will continue to update our news page on our website and this document.

 

Coming to the HHS office

Can I still come to the office to pay my rent or report a repair?

No, unfortunately not. Our office is now closed to customers although all our team are working from home and are available 8.30am – 5.30pm Monday to Thursday and 8.30am to 5pm on Friday.  Please contact us by calling 01223 315036 or emailing info@hhs.org.uk

 

Services available

Will HHS employees still visit my home?

We are no longer undertaking home visits and we are minimising all face to face contact to provide essential services only. This is to protect your health and well-being and that of our people.

We are still offering face to face contact to undertake essential repairs and property compliance (safety) checks.

The letting of a home to a new tenant may also be undertaken, but this is with prior agreement and in exceptional circumstances. There may be different actions we need you to take to minimise contact and we will explain what is required beforehand.

Our approach is being reviewed daily in line with official government guidance. If the situation changes, we will let you know as soon as possible.

 

Rent

Do I still have to pay my rent? I have heard landlords can grant a ‘rent holiday’?

Your rent is still due as usual. Please continue to pay at the usual time. As our office is now closed, we are looking to find other ways for you to pay, if you have previously paid by cheque or by debit card at our office. There are a number of other ways you can pay so please contact us and we will agree with you which is best for you.


Do you still plan to go ahead with the rent increase from 1st April?

Yes, there are no plans to remove or reduce rent charges at this time. Please amend your payment to take the new amount from 1st April 2020 into account. If you have misplaced your rent review letter or wish to be reminded of how much you are required to pay, please contact us.

 

What happens if I can’t pay my rent?

If you are finding it hard to pay your rent at this time then please contact us. The earlier we can talk, understand your situation and offer advice and support, the better chance you have of managing your financial situation during this time.

We are able to provide you with advice on where to go for help and we can agree a payment plan with you. You may be entitled to additional benefits and we can help you get the right advice to maximise your income during this time.

We understand that these are very uncertain times and we will do all we can to help and support you through this pandemic. We will take your individual circumstances into account but we cannot stop charging you rent.

The Government are about to pass legislation which prevents any possession proceedings or evictions taking place over the next 3 months, but any rent arrears that accumulate during this time will remain payable and you are therefore encouraged to contact us straight away if you have any payment concerns.   

 

Repairs

I understand you are now only carrying out essential repairs. What is classed as essential?

Usually it is any repair that is an emergency to undertake. It includes repairs that if not completed, could put a household, third party (e.g. neighbour or pedestrians on the street), or a property at risk, or where there is an exceptional personal circumstance.

Examples of emergency or urgent repairs could include:   

  • If you have no heating or hot water 
  • Loss of electrical supply (unless it is due to a power cut)
  • Unsafe electrical fittings (sockets, light switches etc.) 
  • Security issues (doors or windows broken or damaged) 
  • Gas leak 
  • If your stairs become damaged (including handrails or banisters) 
  • Blocked drains or sinks

This is not a complete list and we will assess each repair individually to determine whether it is essential at this time, or not.

If your repair is safe to defer, we will take all the details from you and schedule it once services are fully resumed. We will keep repair requests under regular review and contact you if we need an update. If you feel the need for the repair increases or your circumstances change which means you believe your repair is now essential, please do contact us.

 

Home Safety Checks

I have a service booked (gas, electrical, fire safety) but I don’t want your Contractor in my home (because I have been advised by the Government to undertake shielding for the next 12 weeks / in case they have Coronavirus / because I am over 70 years of age / because I am in a vulnerable group).  What should I do?

We continue to follow all guidelines from Government, including our Regulator.   

We still need access to your home to complete this service, but we are putting extra safeguards in place to protect you and our contractors.  For this type of regulatory compliance / property safety work, we will contact you ahead of the visit and ask you some questions to ensure we have taken all risks into account.  We will do all we can to minimise the length of the visit and our Contractors will have all the necessary Personal Protective Equipment needed and will continue to regularly wash their hands and use hand sanitiser.  They will wear gloves and clean all surfaces they touch before leaving your property.

We would ask you to remain in another room with the door closed and not enter the work area while the Maintenance Operative is in your home. If you are concerned about any aspect of this, please contact us and we can discuss individual measures we can put in place to reassure you.

 

Coronavirus Symptoms

I have suspected or confirmed Coronavirus. Will you still repair my home?

Only if it is an essential repair as mentioned above. It is essential you tell us in advance if you, or someone in your property, has a suspected or confirmed case of Coronavirus, or if you or anyone in your household is displaying symptoms including a high temperature and/or a cough. This will help us plan what equipment is needed for our Contractors to use.  Each emergency is different, so our Contractors will identify what clothing and equipment they need, on a case by case basis.  If your repair is inside the property, we will ask you to isolate yourself from the area of repair for as long as possible before the repair takes place.  We may ask you to undertake other measures, but these will be discussed with you beforehand.

Please do not be offended if we ask you what may feel like a personal set of questions regarding how you are feeling or any specific diagnosis you may have had, this will help us to assess the situation and enable us to respond appropriately and according to your needs. Also, however close to your essential repair appointment you or a member of your household start to develop symptoms of Coronavirus, please contact us and we will make alternative arrangements.

 

Moving Home

Can I still terminate my tenancy?

Yes, you are still able to terminate your tenancy if you wish.  Please contact us as usual. We are operating our normal service for ending a tenancy at the moment although we may ask you to do specific things when leaving your property and returning your keys at the end of your tenancy.  We will get in touch and agree what is needed.

              

Can I still view a property I have successfully bid on?

We are currently operating a lettings service, although what we expect from applicants and the way we let properties has changed to ensure we absolutely minimise contact.

We will ask you some questions about your health and the health of those who live with you.  This is so we can minimise contact and the risk of spreading Coronavirus as far as reasonably possible for you and our people.  We may decide we are unable to proceed with your application and viewing at this stage and if we do, we will keep you informed.  If you are concerned please contact us and we will look to rearrange this for you.

 

I am due to move into a Hundred Houses Society home soon. Will it still go ahead?

Possibly.  We’re pleased that you’re planning to move into one of our properties soon.  At the moment, we are still letting homes to new tenants, but we are reviewing this position on a daily basis and making decisions on a case by case basis.

We will be in touch to talk about how we can ensure you are able to view and sign the tenancy for your home without any risk to your health and wellbeing and that of our people. If we are unable to ensure this safety, we will not proceed at this time.

 

Can I still apply for permission to mutual exchange homes?

If you have already applied to us for permission to mutually exchange your home with another tenant, we will be in contact with you to discuss your individual circumstances and decide if the swap can go ahead at this time.

Please discuss your circumstances with your exchange partner as well so you properly understand whether the move is essential at this time.

Any new applications for a mutual exchange will be considered on a case by case basis and we will contact you to discuss you deferring your application whilst strict public restrictions remain in place. 

 

Anti-Social Behaviour

Will reports of anti-social behaviour still be investigated?

We are still operating an anti-social behaviour service although we will do this remotely, by telephone and email contact only.  We will not undertake home or area visits to investigate any reports of anti-social behaviour and will involve the Police for the most serious issues which present an immediate risk.

 

Enforcing Social Distancing

My neighbour is regularly outside. I am worried. Can you do anything?

We appreciate that this scenario may be concerning, but the government guidance does not prevent people from moving around outside of their property in their garden, unless it is a social gathering with people other than their household.  Although all of us have been told to stay at home, wherever possible, if you have to go out to buy essentials, such as food or collect medical supplies, and you keep 2 metres away and follow advice on hand washing, the risk to you personally should be minimised.

Legislation will be passed soon which will allow the Police to enforce restrictions to public movement and gatherings.

 

Complaints

Are you still dealing with complaints at this time?

We are working hard to ensure you receive a good service from us during this extremely challenging time. However, if you wish to make a complaint or you have an ongoing complaint underway, then we will of course respond in the usual way and aim to resolve matters as quickly as possible.