Coronavirus housing advice
Information specific to 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 to discuss how we may be able to help with short term solutions.
We have put together a list of housing services that are affected or that you may wish to know are still running. These are set out below and explain how we are responding to the outbreak.
- Lettings: this has been suspended for three weeks and then this position will be reviewed. The only exception to this will be urgent lets to homeless applicants where absolutely essential
- Please note that Christchurch House is operational but with altered management arrangements reflecting the current situation
- If you are waiting for accommodation you should note that offers of accommodation have stopped for an initial period of three weeks from 24th March 2020. This is because we do not have the capacity to undertake viewings and are adhering to government advice. We can still be contacted in the usual way regarding registration and assessment of your housing application.
- Mutual exchanges: we will be accepting mutual exchanges and processing the paperwork but will only be able to agree in principle, pending an inspection in due course once it is safe to conduct them
- Our Neighbourhood Housing Officers are now working from home and have full access to emails to liaise with residents
- We are not conducting any viewings at present
- Our Scheme Managers are working from home and calling all scheme residents on a daily basis. This is to limit any spread of infection between schemes and also provide reassurance where needed
- 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 now providing an emergency repairs service only. All work to void properties has been suspended.
Emails for non-emergency repairs should include:
- Name and address
- Contact telephone number
- Full description of the problem including its location
The types of repair consider emergencies are:
- Total loss of power
- Unsafe power socket, lighting socket or electrical fitting
- Total loss of water supply
- Total or partial loss of gas supply
- Blocked flue to open fire or boiler
- Total or partial loss of space or water heating between 31st October and 1st May
- Blocked or leaking foul drain, soil stack, or (where there is no other working toilet in the dwelling or house) toilet pan
- Toilet not flushing (where there is no other working toilet in the dwelling or house)
- Leaking from water or heating pipe, tank or cistern
- Insecure external window, door or lock
Repair calls will soon be handled by the CSA’s and messages passed to our repairs team who will be working from home. I’ve not had confirmation of when this will happen but it should by the end of the week.
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.
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.
- From Monday 23rd March 2020 until further notice only urgent visits will be carried out. Urgent means that there is an imminent risk of severe harm due to a defect with the property and only if there is no other way of instigating remedial works without a visit in person. Similarly, with regard Houses in Multiple Occupation, only urgent visits will be carried out