Covid-19 Response - Frequently Asked Questions (updated 19th May 2020)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 closed to customers although all of our team are working remotely and are available as usual 8.30am – 5.30pm Monday to Thursday and 8.30am to 5pm on Friday. Please contact us by calling 01223 315036 or emailing email@example.com
Will HHS employees still visit my home?
We are not currently undertaking home visits unless there is a health and safety emergency, an essential repair or a property compliance safety check to complete. We have minimised all face to face contact to provide essential services only. This is to protect your health and well-being and that of our people.
The letting of a home to a new tenant may also be undertaken, but this is with prior agreement and in exceptional circumstances only at this time. There will be different actions we need you to take to minimise contact and we will explain what is required beforehand.
We are reviewing our approach based on the latest Government announcement on Monday 11th May 2020 and are working to put measures in place to allow for further safe working for employees and interaction with customers. Once there is any change to advise you of, we will update this document.
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.
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 exception 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 / in case the operative has Coronavirus / because I am over 70 years of age/ because I am in a clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely 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, you will be contacted ahead of the visit and asked some questions to ensure all risks have been taken into account. We will do all we can to minimise the length of the visit and our Contractors will have all the necessary processes in place and Personal Protective Equipment needed, including regularly washing their hands and using 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.
I have suspected or confirmed Coronavirus. Will you still repair my home?
Only if it is an essential repair and poses an immediate health and safety risk. 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 are displaying symptoms including a high temperature, a continuous cough or anosmia (loss or change in your normal usual sense of smell, it can also affect your sense of taste as the two are closely linked). This will help us plan what equipment is needed for our Contractors to use to minimise the risk to all involved. Each emergency is different, so our Contractors will identify what processes, 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, such as keeping your home well ventilated throughout the visit, 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.
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 been allocated or successfully bid on?
We are still currently operating a lettings service for essential moves only and what we expect from applicants and the way we let properties has changed to ensure we absolutely minimise contact.
If your move is essential, we will ask you some questions about your health and the health of those who live with you. This is so we follow the Government guidance on social distancing and minimise contact, reducing the risk of spreading Coronavirus as far as reasonably possible for you and our people. Even if you are prioritised for an essential move, we may still 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.
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 in to one of our properties soon and we are reviewing this position on a daily basis and making decisions on a case by case basis. If your need to move is essential and we can let you move in safely and in accordance with Government guidelines, then we may be able to proceed. Once we are satisfied that we are able to minimise the risk of COVID-19 for employees and customers we will contact you directly to discuss with you in more detail.
We will need to talk about how we can ensure you are able to view and sign the tenancy for your home while following the Government social distancing guidance and minimising the risk to your health and wellbeing as well as 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 with only essential moves potentially progressing at this time. We will contact you to discuss deferring your application while strict public restrictions remain in place.
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, especially now as we enter the ‘stay alert’ phase of the Government’s COVID-19 Recovery Strategy, but the latest Government guidance asks us all to ‘stay at home as much as possible’ and does not prevent people from moving around outside of their property or in their garden for exercise and relaxation. Unless your neighbour is having a social gathering with multiple people other than their household or is causing anti-social behaviour and/or nuisance in the process, there is little action we can take. Although all of us are still to stay at home as much as possible, work from home where we can and limit our contact with other people, the focus remains on keeping your distance if you go out ensuring you stay 2 metres apart where possible and to follow advice on regular hand washing, the risk to you personally should be minimised.
Legislation has been passed which allows the Police to enforce restrictions to public movement and gatherings and levy fines where restrictions are breached. If you think your neighbour is presenting a serious and immediate health and safety risk to others, you may wish to consider contact the police.
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 and aim to resolve matters as quickly as possible.