Frequently asked questions
To keep our staff and tenants safe we have made a range of changes to our services:
- We are only carrying out emergency repairs and emergency gas repairs. Any non-emergency repairs reported will be logged and we hope to be able to schedule those as soon as possible when rules around the lockdown are relaxed
- Our Care & Repair and Handyperson services in the Highlands are only completing emergency works
- All new build contractors are off site and works postponed
- All planned maintenance works are now on hold
- All communal lounges and guest rooms at our sheltered and retirement courts are closed. Communal laundries are still open, but we have encouraged tenants there to be mindful of social distancing measures
- We have asked that only essential visitors enter our sheltered and retirement courts. Essential visitors include postal workers, carers and support staff, or families delivering food or medication. Social visits are not classed as essential
- Where possible we have increased the level of cleaning being carried out in our courts, particularly around touch points
- We have stopped letting empty homes. There may be some instances where we work with local authorities to provide homes where there is an urgent need
- We have temporarily stopped carrying out ground maintenance, such as grass cutting, and window cleaning. This is for the initial three-week lockdown period then we will review our position again. We appreciate that this is the start of the growing season and we will review this decision again on the 14th April
- Changes to services such as cleaning or grounds maintenance will be reflected in service charges
- Our contact centre now opens at 9.30am each weekday
- We are carrying out welfare checks for our most vulnerable tenants
- Gas safety checks will continue in line with government social distancing guidance, and this will be updated if the guidance changes
- Our offices in Inverness, Bellshill and Edinburgh are closed and all office-based staff are working from home
- We have sought clarity on which of our staff should leave their homes to carry out essential work, and our definition at present is: staff providing essential services at our sheltered and retirement courts, all staff at our extra care housing in Edinburgh, staff who carry out emergency repairs, and Care & Repair staff.
- We have been trying to source personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff who need them, however this has proved challenging due to the global shortage. We have given staff training to make sure they are following the correct health and safety procedures while at work
- We have updated our policies and procedures regarding staff absences to support those who are unwell or looking after children or other dependents
- When you report repairs, we are asking if you are self-isolating or quarantined. We are passing this information to our teams or contractors for their safety
As a not-for-profit charity and housing association, rent is our primary source of income. It enables us to pay for the services we provide. It goes towards vital repairs and improvements, not only for your home, but for other homes across Scotland. It’s important that tenants continue to pay their rent.
We understand that this is a worrying time for many of our tenants and that some of you may have lost your jobs or are working reduced hours. Our Tenancy Sustainment team are here to support you and if you have any concerns about your ability to pay your rent, please contact them as soon as possible. The earlier we know, the sooner we can help. Our team can talk you through your situation and the options available to you, including access to benefits and other support available.
Those concerned about paying their rent can claim Universal Credit from the Department for Work and Pensions which includes support for housing costs, if eligible. The UK Government has introduced some temporary changes to make this easier.
Please be reassured that the Scottish Government has introduced emergency legislation to suspend new evictions from social or private rented accommodation for six months (please note, this does not apply to those who are being evicted for antisocial behaviour or criminal activity). We are committed to ensuring that we provide advice and support to anyone who finds themselves in financial hardship as a result of the pandemic.
We will work with you to find an arrangement that you can manage. When the current crisis eases, we can review this arrangement and agree a way for the arrears to be cleared over a longer period of time than we’d usually agree to.
You can find out how you can pay your rent here.
Did you know that if you have children at school who qualify for free school meals, your local authority are now providing an alternative arrangement? Check with your local authority to find out the details as eligibility and schemes vary across the country.
Ready Scotland have a list of additional support you can access if you need extra help just now. This includes help for older people, pregnant women, parents, those with a disability, those in need of financial advice, those with dementia, anyone experiencing domestic violence, including loads more. You can find their list of organisations here.
Currently, the government are encouraging everyone to stay at home
- Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home)
- If you go out, stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times
- Wash your hands as soon as you get home
- Do not meet others, even friends or family
- You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.
Please check www.gov.uk/coronavirus for up to date government guidance.
This may seem incredibly obvious, but there are many spots on our hands that are missed when we wash our hands, including our thumbs and our wrists.