News

Coronavirus – Advice for our residents

Coronavirus – Advice for our residents

UPDATED: 15 October 2020

In response to the increasing infection rate in our areas of operation and the Government’s clarification of local restrictions, we are making the following changes to services:

  • stopping making appointments for non-critical repairs inside properties (see below for examples) – appointments that have already been made will be honoured
  • deferring some planned maintenance works: non-urgent boiler replacements and kitchen & bathroom installations
  • putting on hold plans to reopen communal areas in independent living schemes.

Non-critical repairs inside properties include:

  • Minor joinery repairs such as kitchen units, worktops, window-frames/catches, floorboards, floor tiles, skirting boards, banister rails and  
  • Dripping or leaking taps and showers
  • Intermittent faults
  • Individual socket and switch faults
  • Plastering and tiling
  • Non-critical glazing.

These measures are additional to the steps that we have already in place to promote your safety and the safety of our employees. We continue to review our risk assessments, provide PPE to employees in customer-facing roles and operate socially distanced working practices, eg. digital sign ups for lettings.

For more information, please see the Group’s Coronavirus Position Statement here.

All our employees have been asked to stay at home unless they:

  • are site‐based and work in supported or extra care schemes;
  • undertake fire safety, electrical checks or gas servicing in general needs properties;
  • undertake void works or carry out emergency repairs;
  • are unable to work effectively from home and safe-working in an office can be facilitated.

Your safety and the safety of our employees remains our priority.  As we adjust our services in line with Government advice to help reduce the spread of the virus, we may not achieve our usual service standards. We wish to apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Repairs service

As of 15 October 2020, we stopped making appointments for non-critical repairs.  Our call centre staff are equipped to work from home and receive calls from residents making inbound calls.

When requesting a repair please advise us if you or anybody in household is shielding / vulnerable etc. In households where someone is isolating due to having COVID – 19 symptoms or has been advised to shield we will only carry out repairs to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household. In these cases our operative will wear PPE including face mask and gloves.

What to expect when we attend a repair or maintenance appointment:

  • Upon arrival our operative will display their official identification but a distance of at least 2 metres.
  • They will ask you to confirm that everyone in the house is currently feeling well
  • Please ensure that you and other members of your household maintain a minimum distance of 2 metres from the operative at all times. If this can’t be achieved the repair may not be able to be completed.
  • Please ensure that children and pets are removed from the area of repair.
  • Please open doors and windows in the area of repair if possible.
  • Please do not offer our operative tea, coffee or other refreshments.
  • Please do not hand or pass anything to the operative.
  • You may notice that our operative washes their hands more than you might normally expect. Don’t be alarmed, this is in line with current Government guidelines.
  • You may notice that our operative washes or wipes down an object or surface before handling, again don’t be alarmed, this is in line with current Government guidelines.
  • If our operative needs to discuss aspects of the repair with you they may ask to speak to you outside of the property.
  • If your repair requires more than one visit we will send the same operative where this is achievable.
  • For most routine tasks (where none of the household has symptoms of COVID – 19 or is shielding) our operatives are not required to wear face masks, again this is in line with current Government workplace guidelines.

Gas and electrical safety checks

Following the Government’s advice our gas and electrical safety checks are continuing and we will contact you to make an appointment if your home is due a visit.  We understand that many of our residents may be anxious of allowing our engineers to enter their homes during the pandemic, however, we can assure you that these essential checks are to ensure the continued safety of you and your family. Our operatives will only be required to enter rooms where your appliances are present and will ensure social distance is maintained at all times.

Rent payment and money advice

If you have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak and are struggling to pay your rent, we’re here to help. Please call our Connect contact service, who can arrange for you to speak to our expert money advice team.  If you are one of our customers who pays their own rent, you can also expect to receive a call from a member of our team to discuss rent payment.

This includes setting up new payment methods for cash payers who are self‐isolating, accepting lower payments when a tenant is unsure of their future income, issuing foodbank vouchers, signposting to debt advice, completing grant applications and making further referrals for food provision to local private and volunteer agencies.

Further information can be found at the following pages:

If you haven’t already, we would encourage you to register for our online services.

Anti-social behaviour

Our tenancy safety team can be contacted, via Connect, to discuss any problems with nuisance or noise that you may be experiencing.

Independent Living and Supported Housing Schemes

We carried out a business‐wide review of all our independent living and supported schemes to increase cleaning regimes in line with government guidance. We have provided advice to residents on how to protect themselves through proper hygiene.  We have liaised with the care teams who work in our buildings and commissioned by local authorities to ensure continued care provision to our residents.

We have closed communal lounges, taped off communal areas that cannot be secured and closed lavatories that are normally accessible to all residents and visitors. We have also asked residents to observe social distancing guidelines and not to invite external visitors into their schemes, although this is not something we can enforce as we have no legal powers to do so and our schemes are not staffed 24/7.

Void works

Where it is possible to do so safely, our operatives will be working on refurbishing our current empty homes to enable them to be ready for when new tenants are able to move in. 

Lettings

We continued to let newly built properties handed over by developers from the beginning of the pandemic and worked with local authority homelessness services to let properties to those in greatest need.

In May we commenced letting all properties in the general needs category with a new digital letting process that maintains social distancing between employees and incoming tenants. We will work with you in the best way possible, while adhering to the latest measures in place on safe distancing to help stop the spread of the virus.

Neighbourhood activities

All our events across the neighbourhoods where we work, are cancelled with immediate effect. Please check our website for future updates on Neighbourhood activity. We wish to apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Grounds Maintenance

Following the Government’s advice on social distancing, we have made some changes to the way we carry out grounds maintenance during the current coronavirus (Covid-19) situation.  As always, our main priority is the health and wellbeing of our customers and staff.

We reintroduced our grounds maintenance service in May. We have made some temporary changes to the way we carry out grounds maintenance. In the short term this means that we will focus on grass cutting and when it is possible our staff will spend more time on site to ensure the grounds are brought back up to the usual high
standard.

Offices and Customer Hubs closed

While our offices remain closed to the public, we are taking the necessary measures to allow a limited number of employees to return where it is safe to do so.  Our employees have been asked to stay and work from home unless they:

  • are site-based and work in independent living, supported schemes or extra care schemes
  • carry out fire safety checks in general needs properties
  • carry out emergency repairs; or
  • they work for statutory services we provide;
  • are unable to work effectively from home and safe-working in an office can be facilitated.

Our employees will use phone and video-conferencing to communicate with customers, colleagues and partners where possible.  Please do not visit our offices.  If you have an urgent need to contact us during this time, please call us or chat with us on our website.

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