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:
- Ashford Borough Council welfare reform advice
- Ashford Borough Council Coronavirus benefits advice
- Money Advice Service website
- Step Change website
- We had no choice but to suspend housing register allocations from 24 March 2020 due to limitations placed upon our contractors and staff. The only exception to this is urgent lets for homeless applicants, where their being housed is absolutely necessary.
- However, government guidance has been updated in relation to the housing market and how it can safely operate going forward.
- We are in the process of reviewing our working practices so that:
- our contractors can safely work within our vacant homes to get them ready for occupation;
- our Neighbourhood Housing Officers can conduct viewings from a safe distance.
- We will slowly begin advertising over the coming weeks. Please check your Kent Homechoice page weekly and bid for properties as they become available.
- Our main priority during this time is the safety of you, our staff, and the communities that we are all a part of. We would like to thank you for your continued patience and understanding.
- We can still be contacted in the usual way regarding registration and assessment of your housing application.
- 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 be not be processing any mutual exchanges until further notice.
- 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
Our intention is to provide essential repairs only during this period for safety, security and hygiene purposes and to protect the property.
All attendances will be subject to satisfactory safe and appropriate property access rules. Our contractors will undertake risk assessments and ensure usage of appropriate PPE in line with government guidelines.
Essential repairs are defined as an emergency (response typically within 2 hours, resource permitting, or at least same day) or an urgent basis (response within 5 working days).
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.
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 23 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.