On 18 May the minister of housing, communities and local government, Christopher Pincher, sent a letter to all housing association customers. This letter contains an update on the government’s latest Covid-19 advice and how it might affect you in your home.
Updated 29 July 2020
We are doing everything we can to help slow the spread of coronavirus and protect our customers, our colleagues and the NHS. Therefore, we have been updating our services as new government advice is released.
Thank you for your patience and understanding. If you have any questions or concerns, please get in touch.
In March, we reduced our repairs service to protect our community from Covid-19. Our routine repairs are currently being resumed on a phased basis.
This includes the following types of repairs to your home:
- Fixtures and fittings
- Electrical wiring
- Communal areas
- The outside of the home
We are currently carrying out all the repairs that were requested by our customers before the lockdown, so we aren't ready to take any new bookings just yet.
What safety precautions will be in place?
We have taken careful steps to ensure that all the government’s recommended safety measures are in place and can be followed easily by our teams.
- All of our frontline colleagues are using high-quality Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and having daily health checks.
- We will contact you before arriving at your home.
- We will ask you some health & safety questions before entering your home.
- We will maintain a safe distance and follow hygiene procedures throughout our visit.
Will I be able to have a routine repair?
We have a significant backlog of deferred routine repairs that we were unable to complete safely during the lockdown.
We are scheduling these deferred routine repairs, prioritising appointments in order of when they were booked, and starting with those repairs that were requested before the lockdown. We are also considering resource and material availability, and urgency of each repair request.
As we still have reduced teams and our supplies are limited, this may take longer than usual, so please be patient.
If you booked a repair for your home or garage before the lockdown and it was put on hold...
A member of our repairs team will be in touch soon to arrange a new appointment.
If you have requested a repair from May onwards...
Someone from our team will be in touch to arrange a new appointment. You will only be contacted once we have finished booking new appointments for all the repairs that were due to be completed in April and March.
If you want to book a new repair...
Unfortunately, we are unable to accept any new repair bookings until we have completed all the appointments that were booked before the lockdown.
If you or someone in your household is self-isolating...
Please let us know before your appointment and we can either reschedule the appointment or make arrangements to carry out the repair while avoiding face-to-face contact.
We are still carrying out emergency repairs for our customers who have:
- No heating or hot water
- A blocked toilet (if it is the only toilet in your home) (this may be re-chargeable)
- An uncontainable leak (including roofing or serious gutter leaks)
- A broken shower, including wet rooms (if this is the only washing facility in your home)
- Full power failure
- An insecure property (such as smashed windows or a broken front door lock)
Please call us on 01344 382 800 to book an appointment if you need an emergency repair, or if there is a health & safety risk.
External maintenance & services
We are undertaking a limited programme of external works and services.
We are also carrying out safe maintenance and repairs in our empty homes, so that they can be re-let to new customers.
All our colleagues and partners are adhering to the government’s safe working guidance.
Planned compliance & maintenance works
We are carrying out essential compliance and maintenance works, some of which may require us to enter your home.
These works include:
- Asbestos surveys, in communal areas and within homes.
- Electrical emergency light safety tests in communal areas.
- Electrical safety condition reports (EICRs) in homes and remedial work where necessary.
- Fire risk assessments and remedial work where necessary.
- Fire alarm and automatic opening vent testing.
- Front door upgrades and replacements.
- Gas servicing (CP12) on boilers.
- Legionella testing and water flushing.
- Monthly lift servicing (including stairlifts and hoists) and lift breakdown attendance.
- Replacing your boiler, even if it hasn’t broken down.
Our colleagues and partners will contact you before arriving at your home, maintain a safe distance and follow hygiene procedures, as set out in the government’s Covid-19 guidance.
No work will be carried out in any household where an individual is self-isolating or shielding, unless it is to remedy a direct risk. In such a case, prior arrangements will be made to avoid any face-to-face contact.
Gas safety checks
We are still carrying out essential gas safety checks in all our homes.
If you are self-isolating, please inform us and we will rearrange the gas safety check to take place after your isolation has ended.
If you are shielding, we will balance the risk presented, taking into account factors such as the age and type of appliance, previous maintenance history and date of the last gas check. In some situations, this might indicate that the gas safety inspection should still go ahead. In such a case, prior arrangements will be made to avoid any face to face contact, for example when answering the door. Our colleagues are up to date with the latest guidance on how to work safely.
If you smell gas, or if you have concerns about the safety of your appliances, you should call the gas emergency service provider on 0800 111 999, and switch off appliances until the gas emergency supplier, or a registered gas engineer, has attended and advised that the appliances are safe to use.
We are carrying out essential caretaking duties in and around our properties, as well as some grounds maintenance works, such as grass cutting. Our team is focussing on health and safety checks and ensuring our bin areas are kept tidy.
Please help us keep our community safe by following the government’s social distancing guidelines:
- Don't go within two metres of your neighbours or our colleagues
- Keep the communal areas clear of your personal items
The re3 recycling sites in Bracknell and Reading are open.
To book a time slot in advance, please visit the re3 website.
We have adapted our viewings process so that it complies with the government’s social distancing guidance:
- A member of our access team will contact you to arrange a time and date for your property viewing.
- We will meet you outside the property and unlock the door for you. You will then be able to look around the property on your own or with a member of your household.
- The next day, you can ask us any questions about the property via email or phone and then make a decision on whether you wish to move in.
- Once the property is ready to let, you can sign your tenancy contract digitally.
- As soon as we receive your advance rent payment, you can move in.
If you are thinking about moving home, please read the government’s advice first, to ensure that you do it safely.
This advice applies if you are seeking to transfer, move into alternative accommodation in the private rented sector, or mutually exchange.
The process of finding and moving into a new home will be different, as we need to enable social distancing measures. This is particularly important for those who are shielding.
If you have any questions about moving home or the government’s guidance, please let us know.
During this period, you should continue to pay rent and abide by all other terms of your tenancy agreement to the best of your ability. If you have any trouble paying your rent, please let us know as soon as possible.
We will support and work with you to find a resolution to any arrears and will not take any legal action for at least 3 months. This legislation currently applies to all notices issued between the dates of 26 March 2020 and 30 September 2020.
The courts have also suspended ongoing housing possession claims from progressing for 90 days from 27 March, meaning that cases currently in the system or any cases about to go into it cannot progress to the stage where you could be evicted. This suspension applies to all housing possessions proceedings for rented and leasehold customers.
The coronavirus outbreak has had an effect on everyone’s daily lives.
If you are feeling lonely and would like to have a regular informal phone call with a member of our team, you can sign up for our ‘Phone Pals’ programme.
If you are isolating and are having difficulty to get your essential supplies, such as food of medication from the shop, you can sign up for our food delivery programme.
The government has also provided some advice to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing:
We have closed our office to visitors until further notice, but as most of our teams are working from home you can still contact us:
Call: 01344 382 800
Stay alert, control the virus, save lives:
- Stay at home as much as possible
- Work from home if you can
- Limit contact with other people
- Keep your distance from people not in your household (2 metres apart where possible)
- Wash your hands regularly
- Do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.
Read more on the UK Government’s website:
Help us prevent the spread of infection
wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
wash your hands as soon as you get back home
cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
Together, we can save lives.
We are all responsible for looking after every member of our community. By cooperating with the government’s guidelines, you will help us to prevent the spread of the virus amongst our colleagues or customers.
Please do whatever you can to support your friends, family and neighbours.
Finally, we are incredibly grateful for your continued support throughout this time.
If you have any questions about our approach towards coronavirus, please get in touch.