Coronavirus Housing Advice
Paying your rent
We are sensitive to the real financial hardship that this current situation is likely to create for some people, and we are here to help and offer what advice we can. However, if you can pay your rent, or even part of your rent, you should continue to do so. If you do not pay your rent now then you will fall into arrears and you may be creating a problem for yourself in the future when you are asked to pay the arrears off.
Please see below information depending on the type of property you are renting.
A letter from the government to all social housing residents in England
Information specific to our Council Housing tenants
If your income has been affected as a direct result of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and you are struggling to pay your rent please contact us. The sooner you let us know the sooner we can try and help you, and we may have more options to offer you in the short term. If you live in one of our properties and are in financial hardship please contact your area manager.
However, as stated above, it is really important that you continue to pay all – or even part of – your rent, if you can afford to do so.
Information for private sector tenants
If you are renting a home in the private sector and your income has been affected as a direct result of Coronavirus and you are struggling to pay your rent you should contact your landlord as soon as possible. You should continue to pay your rent if you can. If you need any help or assistance from Ashford Borough Council please email email@example.com relaying your situation and a member of the housing team will speak to you.
Please note that your landlord will have already been contacted with advice about how to help tenants in the current situation.
Further help and support
You may wish to read the following online resources for further help and support:
- Our welfare reform advice
- Our Coronavirus benefits advice
- Money Advice Service website
- Step Change website
Ending your tenancy: Due to the current situation, we are no longer able to accept online Notice to Vacate applications in the Ashford borough. This will be the case until at least 30 June 2020. This information will be reviewed and updated as the situation evolves. Paper forms can be requested by making contact with your Neighbourhood Officer.
Mutual exchanges: We will start the mutual exchange process again as of Monday 29th June. The process going forward is clearly explained on our mutual exchange page.
Our Neighbourhood Housing Officers are now working from home and have full access to emails to liaise with residents.
We are conducting virtual viewings and tenants will be sent a link to view the property virtually if they are successful and the sign up process is now digital, limiting contact with staff. An appointment is needed solely to sign the Tenancy Agreement. We hope in the coming weeks we will also be able to do this digitally.
Our scheme managers are working from home but visiting the schemes once a week for a catch up with residents.
Fire Alarm testing is still being covered at our schemes.
We are liaising with Age UK who are able to offer prescription and shopping deliveries to older vulnerable residents.
- Specific advice re the virus has been issued for those in temporary accommodation or at threat of homelessness
- Ashford Borough Council is continuing to support landlords during this current situation. For landlords with mortgages, there may be additional concerns if you are worrying that tenants may not be able to work and perhaps may find it more difficult to pay their rent and sustain their tenancy. These landlords have been contacted directly
We are returning close to our usual repairs service provision, with requests for all types of works being attended to within normal response times.
We still have a backlog of non-essential repair requests recorded both prior to and during lockdown to be addressed. Our contractor Engie has engaged additional resources and is extending working hours to assist with the catch-up process. There are also some building components and materials which are proving difficult to obtain, so please be patient if the work you need is affected by this.
Works will be undertaken where it is considered safe for everyone to do so. We will continue to ask COVID-19-related questions and appreciate your co-operation with any measures our contractor believes necessary for the work to be completed.
Emergency repairs (general); call: 01233 330366
- Total loss of electrical power to property
- Unsafe power socket, lighting socket or electrical fitting
- No power to kitchen or bathroom
- Total loss of water supply (phone water supplier first or check with neighbours)
- Blocked or leaking foul drain, soil stack or toilet pan (where there is no other working toilet within dwelling)
- Toilet not flushing (where there is no other working toilet within dwelling)
- Leaking from water pipes, water tank, toilet cistern or plumbing installation which can’t be contained
- Insecure external window, door or lock
Emergency repairs (heating and hot water); call: 0800 206 1371
- Total or partial loss of gas supply (check meter first if prepaid)
- Total loss of heating or hot water
- Blocked flue to boiler
- Leaking from heating pipes or boiler or pressure in system is in red zone
- Leaks to oil tanks or supply pipes
Urgent repairs (general); call: 01233 330336
You can also report the following types of repairs online or you can email the housing repairs team. Please include your name and address, a valid contact number and a full description of the issue and its location.
- Partial loss of electrical power excluding kitchen or bathroom
- Partial loss of water supply
- Blocked sink, bath or basin
- Taps which leak or are inoperative
- Leaking roof
- Loose or detached bannister or handrail
- Rotten timber flooring or stair tread
Urgent repairs (heating and hot water); call: 0800 206 1371
- Partial loss of heating
- Loss of pressure in heating system and falling, below normal but not in red.
- Problems with heating controls
Other property repair issues should be reported online, where possible, or you can email the housing repairs team. Please include your name and address, a valid contact number and a full description of the issue and its location.
Disabled facilities grants
Only critical disabled facilities grant cases are currently being dealt with and will be dealt with in order of need. Any required visits will be dependent on the client agreeing to a visit and subject to social distancing guidelines. Existing works will continue at present to complete necessary adaptations, but would be subject to the agreement with the client and the builders following social distancing guidelines. This is constantly being reviewed.
- All planned maintenance works have been stopped.
- Gas servicing will continue wherever possible. The Health and Safety Executive and gas regulators are not giving any exemption from the law and landlords are obliged to keep systems safe, and want to do so. Please note: for a service to be undertaken, residents need to be happy to let engineers into their home and the engineers need to be happy to enter the property. When making appointments relevant questions will be asked. If a household is self-isolating then an appointment will be re-arranged for 14 days later after the quarantine period has expired. Our contractor has rules about social distancing when working in properties during this period.
- Servicing and maintenance contracts, where necessary, are still being undertaken. These include: water hygiene testing, passenger lifts and stair lifts, sewerage treatment works, fire alarms and emergency lighting. Engineers undertaking these tasks will be following approved risk assessments and method statements and will need to maintain social distancing. Please give them space to do these works safely.
As lockdown restrictions are being lifted across the country we are working closely with our tenants to ensure a little bit of normality is restored but at the same time ensuring we keep them safe. We have started to re-open the communal lounges across our schemes with safe “social distance” measures in place.
Our officers will be returning back into the schemes at reduced hours and continuing to provide a service from home the rest of the working week and we will continue with enhanced cleans throughout the schemes.
Right to Buy
Part of the right to buy process often requires an internal and external survey of the property. As an internal survey is not essential work, the resulting delay will almost certainly mean we will not meet the government’s target times for processing a Right to Buy application.
Currently Private Sector Housing is undertaking visits where necessary to identify and deal with disrepair issues within the private rented sector, including Houses in Multiple Occupation. All visits will be based on an assessment of risk and in accordance with our own health and safety policies and procedures.