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Information for customers about coronavirus

April 06 2020 | Articles | News

Update: April 6 2020

Paying rent during the coronavirus crisis

We understand it is a very difficult time at the moment and some of our tenants are understandably really worried.   

We are collecting rent as normal but our teams are here for you if you need help. If you’ve faced a change in your income or just claimed Universal Credit, we can advise and support you through your options.

We are following the Government guidance and placing all legal action on hold. However, we will continue to contact tenants when we need to about any debt owing on their account.  

We want to help you if your employment status has changed. We know that some people have already faced redundancy, are having to take unpaid leave or have had their hours reduced. Our teams are still here for you, including our Money Matters team, who can guide you through the benefits system or support you with any money worries.

If you need help with rent:

You can also find information on ways to pay rent from home here on our website.

 

Update: March 27 2020

Thank you to all our customers who are supporting our efforts to slow the spread of Covid-19.

For details on the changes we have made to our services in response to the outbreak, please see the updates below.

It’s early days in the lockdown and we wanted to share a few tips with you to help keep your home life running as smoothly as possible whilst we are unable to support you as usual. Please use the button to find out more:

We are all in this together

 

Update: March 24 2020

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement last night, we will only be doing emergency repairs and essential safety checks from today until further notice.

If you have an appointment for any type of repair work other than an emergency in the coming days/weeks, we will contact you to cancel it.

We will also be putting all improvements work on hold.

Any works in progress will be checked and made safe in the next day or so.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause but hope you understand that this is the appropriate course of action given the national emergency that has been declared.

Keep safe.

 

Update: March 23 2020

Update regarding home improvement work

Previously, we said that if we are carrying out improvement work to your home we would do our best to get it finished but that there may be a delay starting new work.

We are also asking residents to tell us if they are self-isolating. Currently, we have 207 households reporting that they are. This will increase now that all residents over 70, and those with underlying health conditions, have also been advised to self-isolate.

Due to the escalating situation and following feedback from residents and our contractors, we have decided not to start any new work within homes.

We will still focus on completing work in progress, whilst making sure that our contractors take every precaution to minimise risk to residents and their staff.

We aim to avoid leaving residents with unfinished work for prolonged periods. In practice, this means contractors will;

  • check daily that residents have not developed key symptoms, a high temperature or a new continuous cough
  • check daily that their staff and subcontractors have not developed these key symptoms
  • only allow one person at a time to work in residents homes. Occasionally, two people may be needed to carry materials and/or equipment
  • make sure all staff and subcontractors follow good personal hygiene guidance and carry alcohol based, hand sanitiser
  • clean communal areas, including lifts, regularly, throughout the working day
  • where works are external and social distancing guidance can be applied, in full, these may continue

If you are self-isolating or trying to keep a distance from others, please let us know. As much as possible, our improvement works will continue, but we will suspend them if a full lockdown is announced.

We appreciate that this is a difficult time for everybody and we are working together to keep people informed as the situation changes.

Got a repair or a gas/electrical safety visit booked in with us?

You will have seen the government advice on good personal hygiene and keeping at least 2m distance between people. All of our contractors and staff are following this advice and we ask that you do as well. 

If you've got a gas or electrical safety test coming up:

Over the next few weeks, a number of customers will have appointments for gas safety checks and electrical tests.

These checks are essential to keep your home safe. But we do need to protect residents and staff.

If you have an appointment for a gas safety check or electrical test and you are currently self-isolating, please call us immediately on 03000 123 123. We will arrange to carry out the check when you have finished self-isolating.

As these checks are mandatory, we won’t cancel any appointments - they will just be rearranged. The checks must be carried out on or before their due date where possible.

Repairs

You can still order repairs as usual, and we intend to provide a normal service as much as we can. But we will be prioritising emergency repairs and gas servicing, and you may find that some non-urgent jobs take us longer to get to.

If you order a repair and no one in your home has any coronavirus symptoms:

When we visit, we will be following the government advice on distance and hygiene to help keep both yourself and our contractors safe.

If you order a standard repair (i.e. not an emergency) and someone in your home gets coronavirus symptoms:

When you order a repair, we'll ask you if anyone in your household has these symptoms. However, if things change and someone in your household starts getting symptoms before we come, please call us immediately on 03000 123 123 to let us know.

If it's a standard repair, we will cancel the appointment and, when everyone in your household is well, we will arrange to do it then.

If it's an emergency repair and someone in your household gets coronavirus symptoms:

When you order an emergency repair, we'll ask you if anyone in your household has these symptoms. However, if things change and someone in your household starts getting symptoms before we come, please call us immediately on 03000 123 123 to let us know.

If it's an emergency repair, our contractors will take extra precautions including face mask, gloves, disposable overalls and overshoes.

By following this advice and working together, we will continue to deliver services to residents as safely as possible.

For further details on changes we've made to the way we're delivering all our services in light of the coronavirus, please see below.

 

Update: March 19 2020

We are making some changes to the way we deliver services. This is in response to the latest government advice about minimising the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

From Friday 20 March 2020, we are temporarily closing all our public counters. Our office-based staff will mainly be working from home, and we will no longer be seeing people face-to-face other than when it is absolutely unavoidable in order to deal with something urgent which can’t be dealt with in another way.

This means we will be doing most business both online and over the phone.

You can still contact us in all the usual ways. We will respond to all enquiries - although in the current situation, where we have fewer staff in work and are having to prioritise urgent matters, we hope that you will understand if it takes us longer than usual to deal with non-urgent requests.

You can still order repairs as usual, and we intend to provide a normal service as much as we can. But we will be prioritising emergency repairs and gas servicing, and you may find that some non-urgent jobs take us longer to get to.

You can still pay rent and check your balance in the usual ways. Please read this guidance if you're worried about money because of the coronavirus.

If we are carrying out improvement works at your home…

We will be doing our best to get these finished – although there may be some delays if our contractors start to experience staffing shortages. If we are planning to carry out improvement works at your home, but haven’t started yet, then there may be a delay as we prioritise finishing off work we have already started.    

If you live in a block of flats…

We will be prioritising building safety checks and (if there are communal bins) sorting out the bins and looking after the bin chutes. We may not be able to clean common areas as frequently as usual but we will make sure that any issues we identify as a result of safety checks are dealt with as quickly as possible. Please contact us if there are any problems you think we need to attend to in the common areas of your block.

Retirement housing

We are writing separately to everyone living in retirement housing to let them know how we will be continuing to support them. If you have an elderly neighbour and have particular concerns about them, please contact us.

Thank you for your patience

We understand and appreciate that these are very difficult and worrying times, and we will continue to provide as much support as we can to all our tenants. We are sure you will understand that we may have to do some things differently and, in some cases, not as quickly as normal.

Please continue to contact us to report any issues with your tenancy or to let us know if we can help in any way. And please continue to follow the latest government advice about the virus.    

 

Original post: March 17 2020

The spread of coronavirus is changing every day and we continue to follow the advice from the government and Public Health England.

Northwards Housing has business continuity plans in place to deal with the pressures presented by coronavirus and are working to ensure our tenants and staff are informed and safe. You can help by following government and NHS guidance on helping to prevent the spread, which includes regular hand washing.

For the latest health advice:

Please visit the NHS guidance page for the latest health advice about coronavirus.

For news and information:

Please visit the government's website for information on the latest coronavirus news, including advice on travelling.

Advice for tenants experiencing coronavirus symptoms

If any tenant is experiencing a new persistent cough or a high temperature, or if you are self-isolating for other reasons, please contact us to let us know. For the latest advice on how long to self-isolate, please visit the NHS guidance page.

Our services

Northwards Housing would like to give assurances to our tenants that we are also committed to providing as full a service as we possibly can, given wider guidance. Our tenants' and employees' safety is always our priority, and we will do all we can to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, particularly as we have a large number of elderly and vulnerable tenants who are more susceptible to the virus.

Coronavirus is having an impact across the world, and we all have a part to play in minimising the risk of spreading the virus. As such:

  • We are asking tenants to understand that there may be changes to our services over the coming weeks as a result of government advice. Face-to-face services may be restricted or cancelled, including our neighbourhood offices or non-emergency repairs in your home.
  • To help with this, please use this website as much as possible to communicate with us. You can use it to order repairs, have web chats with us and more. Register for My Account to pay rent, check your balance and update your details online.
  • If you are concerned about paying your rent while you are self-isolating, please contact our rent team as quickly as possible or call 03000 123 123. Please read this guidance for those whose income is affected by coronavirus.

Advice for tenants who are NOT experiencing any symptoms and are NOT self-isolating

If you need to contact us, please take a look at the contact us page of this website for all the ways you can get in touch.

We will advise our tenants with pre-booked appointments if there are cancellations, and hope they will understand that we would be doing this to act responsibly for their own protection.

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