COVID-19 Response Frequently Asked Questions (updated June 2021) | News

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COVID-19 Response Frequently Asked Questions (updated June 2021)

We have updated below the answers to the most frequently asked questions from our customers in relation to the current COVID-19 restrictions 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

We will continue to update the news page on our website and this document as new information becomes available.


Coming to the HHS office

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

No, our office remains closed to customers. All of our team are still available with the majority working remotely. We 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 info@hhs.org.uk and we will be happy to help.

In exceptional circumstances, where we are unable to resolve your query without seeing you in person, we may agree for you to attend the office for a pre-arranged appointment, but you should not come to the office without a specific arrangement to do so.


Services available

Will HHS employees still visit my home? 

As the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown is currently at Step 3, we are undertaking appointments to deliver some services which we are unable to do remotely, such as repairing your home, completing property compliance works like annual gas safety checks, letting homes to those who need to move and some area visits, including those to tackle any serious anti-social behaviour. If we need to visit you during this time, we will continue to minimise the length of the visit and follow our COVID-19 Secure arrangements.

Please refer to the leaflet setting out what you need to do to prepare for the visit and what you can expect from us before, during and after the appointment.  This is to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Leaflet - Providing COVID-19 Secure Appointments

We continue to review our approach regularly and are following Government guidance to work from home wherever possible.  We are COVID-Secure which means we have safe working practices in place to undertake any essential services when we meet people and go into homes.


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. There are a number of ways you can pay. Please contact us and we will agree which is best for you.

What happens if I can’t pay my rent?

If you are finding it hard to pay your rent, then please contact us urgently. The earlier we can talk and understand your situation, the sooner we can offer advice and support to help you manage your financial situation at this time.

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

We understand that these are still 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 your rent.

Any rent arrears that have accumulated during this time will remain payable and you are therefore encouraged to contact us straight away if you have any payment concerns. Please make sure you respond to us if we contact you – it is important that we understand your individual circumstances.

 

Repairs

I understand your repairs service is fully open again - what does this actually mean?

This means, where it is safe to do so, we are carrying out all repairs again in your home and any communal areas if you are in a block of flats.  This includes any deferred repairs where we have already taken the details from you, plus those which you now need to tell us about. We will look at each repair on a case-by-case basis and if we are unable to do it at the moment due to the risk of the infection spread, we will discuss this with you. Please bear with us, as due to COVID-Secure working arrangements, some repairs may take longer than our usual timescales.

All of our employees and contractors will keep socially distanced from you, have gloves, hand sanitiser and masks for use when needed, and any used Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be taken away and disposed of safely.

Please remember to keep rooms where employees or contractors will be working well ventilated.  Contractors will wear gloves and clean all surfaces they touch before leaving your property.


Home Safety Checks

I have a service / safety check booked (gas, electrical, fire safety) but I don’t want an engineer in my home (in case the operative has Coronavirus / because I am yet to receive my full vaccinations / because I am in a clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable group).  What should I do?

We continue to follow Government guidance, including that issued by our Regulator and the Health and Safety Executive.  We are still required to access to your home to complete any safety or compliance works and we have put 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 PPE needed. They will regularly wash their hands or use hand sanitiser where access to soap and water is restricted. They will wear gloves and clean all surfaces they touch before leaving your property.

We would ask you to keep your home well-ventilated throughout the visit and 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.


Please see our leaflet on safely visiting homes Providing COVID-19 Secure Appointments

 

Coronavirus Symptoms

I, or a member of my household have suspected or confirmed Coronavirus. Will you still repair my home?

Only if it is absolutely essential and the repair poses an immediate health and safety risk, greater than that of infection spread. It is essential you tell us in advance if:

  • you, or someone living in your home has suspected or confirmed coronavirus and is self-isolating, or
  • you, or anyone in your household are displaying symptoms. Coronavirus symptoms include a high temperature, a continuous cough or anosmia (loss or change in your normal usual sense of smell or taste) but you should check the latest guidance at www.gov.uk or www.nhs.uk for any new and emerging symptoms
  • you, or someone in your household is awaiting a coronavirus test or test result, or
  • you, or someone in your household has been contacted by track and trace and you are self-isolating

Please 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 will 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, as 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.


Planned Improvement Works

Will you be undertaking planned improvements, such as replacing kitchens and bathrooms during current restrictions?

External improvement works continue, such as door and window replacements and also emergency replacements, including boilers, kitchens and bathrooms if there is a health and safety risk which is greater than the risk of infection spread. We aim to restart routine planned improvement works such as replacing kitchens and bathrooms from Step 4 out of lockdown and so we will review our programme and be in contact after 19th July if you are due some works. If you were expecting a planned major improvement to your home and you would like an update on when to expect it to happen, please contact us.


Communal Areas

Are you still cleaning communal areas and undertaking grounds maintenance of our shared spaces?

Yes, all cleaning and grounds maintenance contractors are working to COVID-Secure arrangements and continue to deliver services both internally and externally to shared communal areas, such as stairwells, shared gardens, bin stores and car parks. Our team are also regularly visiting local neighbourhoods so if you are concerned about the cleanliness or upkeep of a communal area, please let us know.

 

Anti-Social Behaviour

Will reports of anti-social behaviour still be investigated and resolved? 

We are still operating an anti-social behaviour service although where we can, we will do this remotely, by telephone and email contact. We may undertake some essential visits, usually to investigate reports of the most serious anti-social behaviour,  which present an immediate risk.

 

Social Distancing and Step 3 of the Roadmap out of Lockdown Rules

My neighbour is encouraging a number of people into their home and garden, and regularly allows visitors to be very close to each other. I am worried. Is this ok and if not, can you do anything?

Under the current rules, even if you have been vaccinated against COVID-19, you should continue to follow the government guidance on keeping yourself and others safe, which can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-19-coronavirus-restrictions-what-you-can-and-cannot-do#keeping-yourself-and-others-safe

Most restrictions on meeting people outdoors have been lifted, but gatherings must not exceed 30 people unless covered by a legal exemption. Whilst it is safer to meet outdoors, the mixing of households indoors is now allowed, although only for up to 6 people or two households. If you think a neighbour is presenting a serious and immediate health and safety risk to others, you may wish to contact the police as well as letting us know.

 

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 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?

Yes, you will be able to view the property before you are asked to sign any paperwork. In exceptional circumstances, you may be able to visit the property before your sign-up appointment is booked, but we will agree this with you beforehand.

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 and minimise contact, reducing the risk of spreading Coronavirus as far as reasonably possible.

 

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

Yes. We are pleased that you are planning to move in to one of our properties soon and will be contacting you directly to discuss the next steps in detail. We will complete the majority of the paperwork for your new tenancy via email or post in advance of the letting and ensure that the property is suitable for you to enter it. The Government guidance on moving home can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-advice-on-home-moving-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak

Leaflet - Providing COVID-19 Secure Appointments

 

Can I still apply for permission to mutually exchange homes?

Yes. All applications for a mutual exchange are now being considered. Please get in touch to progress your application.

 

Complaints

Are you still dealing with complaints at this time?

We continue to work 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 respond and aim to resolve matters as quickly as possible and within our usual timeframes if possible. It is unlikely we will be able to visit you to resolve your complaint and will look to resolve it by communicating in alternative ways. We will consider each complaint individually to consider the best way to resolve it whilst restrictions continue.