Beware of scams Be vigilant against coronavirus scams – staff working for the council do not visit people at home and ask for council tax and/or housing rent to be paid by cash.
If anyone visits you at home and asks for your council tax and/or rent to be paid in cash, then this is a scam.
Staff working for the housing rent team are visiting residents at home. Staff working for the council tax team are not currently completing home visits.
For further government advice about scams, visit its web pages. If you have any concerns please contact us on 0118 974 6000.
We know this is an extremely difficult time for people and are seeking to provide relief and support wherever necessary.
The Government has confirmed a £500 million hardship fund will provide Council Tax relief for vulnerable people and households to help those affected most by coronavirus.
Working age residents supported through our Council Tax Reduction Scheme will receive up to an additional £150 reduction to their bill. These changes will be automatically applied – you do not need to do anything further.
If you are finding it difficult to meet your instalments please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org we can work with you on a more manageable repayment plan.
Housing, revenue and benefits front desk
The Housing, Revenue and Benefits counter service at our Shute End offices is closed until further notice.
Residents needing to get in touch can phone 0118 974 6000 or use our contact us form online. If you can use our online services, please do to keep the phone lines open for those most in need.
Some of our housing services have changed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Please see guidance below for the different areas.
Repairs - housing
Please continue to report all repairs as follows:
Due to the coronavirus pandemic we are however, only undertaking repairs that are assessed as essential in accordance with government guidelines. These will include health and safety and urgent repairs. You will be notified if a repair is assessed as essential at the point that you report it.
- If the repair is assessed as essential, you will be asked a standard series of questions concerning the health and vulnerabilities of yourself and any family you have living with you
- In order to comply with the social distancing guidelines, you may be asked to move to another room or remain at least 2m from the operative or surveyor
Gas servicing - housing
Gas servicing will continue as usual. Robert Heath Heating will contact tenants when their annual gas service is due. This is a legal requirement and must be completed.
- Engineers will use the correct personal protective equipment when completing the service however we ask that residents move to an unoccupied room during the service
- If you have any question regarding the gas service then please call Robert Heath Heating directly on 0800 389 8789
Paying your rent for council owned homes
If you're in a situation where you're worried about paying your rent, please get in touch with us immediately. We understand this is a difficult time for you. You’re thinking about your health and your family.
On top of this, you may be worrying about money and paying the bills. We’re here to help you. Our rental income team can talk through your rent account, and payment options, so please speak to them if you need to.
- The rental income team are continuing with their customer focused collection and support service which recognises rent is a priority payment over other debts. This includes visiting residents at home
- This includes offering early tenancy sustainment support from both the rent officers and specialist tenancy sustainment officers
- We are providing a Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, telephone only service with our contact details shown below. Please check the top left of the letter about your rent changes sent in late February 2021 to see who your rent officer is
- Please contact rent officers Ade Okeowo (07595 057512) or Beverley Patrice-Farrell (07885 983791). All other enquiries can be by phone on 0118 974 6238, then select option 4 and option 4 a second time, or email email@example.com– we read all emails every working day
The team are continuing to encourage and support residents of working age to apply for Housing Costs to be paid through a Universal Credit application, and residents of pensionable age to apply for Housing Benefit. This includes providing residents with advice and support in managing their online Universal Credit account called their ‘journal’.
- If you are a resident who is struggling, then the service will continue with our ongoing approach of rent being a priority payment and seeking to negotiate a sustainable repayment
- If you want support from a specialist tenancy sustainment officer contact us on 0118 974 6238 – option 4, and option 4 a second time
Paying your rent for residents living in the private rented sector
On 10 March 2021, the Government announced that current regulations restricting repossessions will remain in force until the 31st May 2021 and then begin to taper off from June 2021.
What does this mean?
Until the 31 May 2021, landlords will need to continue to give tenants six months’ notice before they can repossess properties, except where they serve a Section 8 notice using the following grounds:
- Anti-social behaviour. The anti-social behaviour grounds 14 (24 hours' notice) or 7a (one month's notice)
- False statements provided by the tenant. The false or fraudulent statement ground 17 (2 weeks’ notice) but only if no other ground is cited
- Over 6 months’ accumulated rent arrears. Rent arrears grounds 8, 10 and 11 (4 weeks’ notice) , but only if the rent arrears are at least six months and no other ground is cited
- Breach of immigration rules under the ‘Right to Rent’ policy or the tenant has passed away (3 months’ notice)
The restrictions on repossessions will start to taper off from the start of June 2021. The detail has yet to be published
The government announced in March 2020 that your landlord now needs to adhere to the pre-action protocol for possession claims by social landlords.
For example, this means your landlord should offer to assist in any claim that you have made for housing benefit, discretionary housing payments or universal credit (housing element).
- Bearing in mind that rent arrears may be part of a general debt problem (that could be made worse by the impact of coronavirus), the landlord should advise you to seek assistance from citizen’s advice, debt advice agencies or other appropriate agencies as soon as possible.
- Where you are having difficulties with your rent, contact your landlord to discuss and use advice services, such as Citizens Advice for help and support.
You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0118 974 6756 or 0118 974 6752 during office hours, or 01344 786 543 outside of office hours in an emergency.
Sheltered tenants - housing
We continue to maintain a daily staff presence on the eight schemes, to ensure that those who are most vulnerable are contacted.
Daily phone calls or visits are continuing to take place for those who are the most vulnerable within our schemes. All of the Government’s social distancing guidelines are being adhered to. Those that are able, have continued to use the ‘I’m OK’ feature, which has been very successful.
We recognise that it is a challenging time but in order to follow the Government’s social distancing guidelines. We continue to update all of our sheltered tenants in writing as and when the guidance changes, to ensure that everyone is aware of the current guidance / law that they should be following.
All of our communal areas in sheltered accommodation remain closed and there are restrictions in place with regard to the number of people that can be in the laundry rooms etc. at any one time.
Your welfare and safeguarding remains our first concern, should you have any concerns please let us know. Housing officers are continuing to support communities, however they are currently only attending urgent, or health and safety, appointments. You can contact them by email on email@example.com or by phoning 0118 974 6000.
Planned visits - housing
Housing officer planned visits have been reduced to urgent only, but we are offering the housing management service over the telephone where needed.
- If a planned visit is essential then they will go ahead, however before visiting we will contact the person to check if they are self-isolating and they have any symptoms
- If the visit does go ahead, then we will also check before starting the visit if anyone in the household has any symptoms. If the visit takes place, then social distancing will be maintained
- We will continue to undertake gas boiler servicing. As with repairs, prior to the gas engineer attending you will be asked a series of questions concerning the health and vulnerability of the homeowner. In addition, to conform with the social distancing requirements the engineer may ask you to go into another room or keep 2m away
- We will keep our other planned programmes such as window and door replacements and external decorations under review. Currently we are planning to continue with this work but be aware that the pandemic might force us to postpone the programme
The Rental Income Team are providing a Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, telephone service. The team are currently following government guidance and, in the future, will provide face-to-face meetings at the Shute End office and home visits.
Leaseholders and Shared Owners - housing
Insurance for Leaseholders of ‘Right to Buy’ Flats and Shared Ownership Properties, from 1 April 2020 the insurance of your property has been moved to Avid Insurance Services.
- If you need to make a claim please phone the claims administrator, Questgates Limited, on 01204 860427
- The policy number is 2020CP000177