Housing Services and Coronavirus – an update for BHT tenants

Last updated - November 25, 2020

As we enter a second lockdown, due to be reviewed on 2 December 2020, our first priority remains the safety and well-being of you our tenants, our staff and contractors. We are following Government advice in line with announcements from Public Health England and our Local Authority partners.

As you will be aware, things are changing daily so we will continue to publish updates on our website and update you regularly by email to keep you fully informed over the coming days, weeks and months.

Please find below the answers to some frequently asked questions about our services.

  • We’re contacting vulnerable tenants to offer reassurance, advice and support where possible.
  • Staff are once again predominantly working from home and we’re minimising face to face contact where we can. Our contact with you will be mainly via telephone or email.
  • In accordance with Government guidelines, we will continue lettings and mutual exchanges and our repair service will also continue as normal while following the safety precautions detailed below.

Repairs

BHT is pleased to announce that our normal repair service will continue following updated government guidance and extensive discussions with our contractors.

However, for everyone’s safety, the following precautions must be adhered to by all parties involved, including contractors, staff, clients and tenants.

BHT’s contractors will book appointments in advance and enquire if anyone in the household is shielding or showing symptoms of Covid-19. If so the appointment will be booked at a later date to ensure everyone’s safety. If not, we will still need to follow social distancing rules, which may mean you stay in another room while repairs are carried out. During repair work:

  • Social distancing of 2 metres will be adhered to
  • There will be increased hand washing- if this can’t be carried out hand sanitiser will be used
  • Appropriate PPE will be worn
  • The work area will be cleaned before and after work is done
  • We will follow good hygiene practice in line with Public Health Guidelines
  • We will not shake hands with you or other occupants
  • We cannot accept any offers of refreshment such as hot drinks
  • Time spent in the property will be limited to reduce the risk of exposure.

If a contractor feels unsafe, they may leave your premises if necessary. In this event we will contact you to re-book an appointment.

BHT’s tenants will be asked to disclose if they are self-isolating, or if they or any of their household are showing coronavirus symptoms:

  • when they report the repair to BHT
  • when they book the appointment with the contractor
  • when the contractor arrives to carry out the repair.

When a repair is carried out, we will ask you to follow social distancing rules at all times which may require staying in another room, or even removing yourself temporarily from the property while the repair is carried out.

It is vital that these guidelines are followed by all parties to ensure the protection of everyone from coronavirus - we greatly appreciate your cooperation.

Gas and Fire Safety

Throughout this second lockdown period BHT will maintain its statutory obligations regarding the maintenance of fire systems and gas appliances. This continues to be the case and contractors carrying out this vital work will adhere to the safety measures listed above. It is essential, for your safety and that of others, that unless you are shielding you permit access to BHT contractors to carry out work relating to gas or fire safety.

BHT will continue to undertake Fire Risk Assessments. Risk assessments are in place and the inspector will wear appropriate PPE. Only the common areas of properties are assessed, and the inspector will not require access to your home.

We will be completing our annual gas services closer to the date that they are due, rather than 10 weeks in advance. We will contact you nearer the date that your gas service certificate expires to arrange to carry out the check.

We know that some of you are worried about how you'll pay your rent because of the impact of coronavirus. We're here to help and make sure you feel secure in your home. If you're unwell or can't work because of coronavirus we want to reassure our customers that no one will lose their home as a result of this virus. We know you’ll do your best to pay your rent and we can offer assistance and guidance if you’re in financial difficulties. We can also give guidance on claiming benefits so please get in touch in the usual way.

If you are concerned that your boiler or the electrics in your home are unsafe please call us on 01323 340018.

Please note we will continue our normal five-yearly electrical testing. 

Please use the latest information on prevention and the facts about Coronavirus (COVID-19) which are available on the government website and from the NHS website.

As a matter of course from now until further notice if any of our staff are due to visit they will always check whether you are happy for them to come into your home. Where we can, we will contact you by phone rather than visiting so we can minimise any risks and help us provide the best service to you. Please take this opportunity to ensure we have your updated mobile phone details to aid communication.

Self-isolating is when you are staying at home to stop the risk of the coronavirus spreading.

If you are self-isolating it is really important that you let us know so we can plan accordingly for any potential work or support that may have been arranged. Please let us know if we are due to visit you before we enter your home by contacting us on 01323 340018 or [email protected] as soon as possible.

Although we will not be making home visits during the lockdown we are still committed to making every effort to support victims of anti-social behaviour. If we receive a complaint our contact with you will be by phone, email or text, whichever is your chosen method.

Our investigations may include:

  • Sending you diary sheets to complete or explaining other ways to make a record of the complaints
  • Contacting those causing nuisance once we have specific details of the anti-social behaviour and allowing them to give their reasons for the behaviour
  • Contacting you on a regular basis to see if the situation is improving
  • Working with other agencies and signposting those causing nuisance to support services where relevant
  • Issuing verbal warnings over the phone or written warnings by email or text to those causing nuisance
  • Issuing Acceptable Behaviour Agreements to those causing a nuisance but only for significant behaviour incidents.
  • Issuing Injunctions in serious cases of breaches of tenancy

Taking Possession action for any significant and very serious anti-social behaviour now has a delay period of three months imposed by the Government before any case can be referred to the County Court. For this reason it is important to let your Housing Officer manage the situation and keep you updated.

If you believe the actions of your neighbours break the social distancing or ‘Lockdown’ guidance it is the Police who have the powers under recent Coronavirus Act legislation to manage this, so please contact them directly by calling 101.

Our normal service will resume once the current restrictions are sufficiently lifted by the Government to allow this to happen safely.