Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs

Your home and rent

We are currently concentrating our efforts where they are needed most. This means we’ll be focusing on essential services, like emergency repairs, support and advice about rent and financial difficulties and keeping you safe in your home.

Within this dedicated coronavirus FAQ area, you can find all the latest answers to your queries and questions about your home, rent and tenancy.

My rent

How can I contact you to discuss my rent?

You can call our customer service centre on 0800 111 4554 who can offer you help and advice and refer you to our income or money and advice teams, if appropriate.

Will I lose my home, if I cannot pay my rent as a result of financial hardship caused by coronavirus?

In order to continue to provide our services and to maintain your homes, we must still collect rent, but no customer will be evicted for being unable to pay their rent because of the impact of coronavirus. You will, however, still receive standard rent arrears reminders. 

We will work with our customers to find affordable solutions in order to help people through this difficult period, so if you’re concerned please contact our customer service centre on 0800 111 4554.  Our advisors can refer you to our income or money advice teams for further help and support.

Our aim is always to do everything possible to ensure our customers can sustain their tenancies and remain in their homes.

What should I do if my work closes or I need to self-isolate and can’t afford to pay my rent?

To make sure people in work can take the necessary time off to stay at home if they are suffering from coronavirus or to prevent its spread, changes have been made to Statutory Sick Pay for employees and to how Universal Credit can support people who are self-employed.

If you are concerned about your rent payments due to changes in your income, we advise that you look into any financial support that may be available to you as soon as possible.

Further details can be found on the Government website here.

You can contact us for practical advice on claiming the relevant benefits on 0800 111 4554 or emailing us housing@sarh.co.uk.

Alternatively, there are a number of other agencies who are able to offer advice including your local Citizens Advice.

My finances

If I am classed as being on unpaid leave how will this affect my working Tax Credit?

Working Tax Credit has been replaced by Universal Credit for most people and you can only make a new claim for Working Tax Credit in very limited circumstances.

If you are already in receipt of Working Tax Credit, we advise that you contact the Tax Credit office as soon as possible to discuss any changes in your income which may affect the amount of tax credit you receive. If you are not already in receipt of Tax Credit you may be able to access financial support through Universal Credit or other benefits.

You can find more details on the government website here.

Where can I get benefit advice?

If you are in receipt of benefits or beginning a new claim, you can find out how support has changed for you here.

This government web page is regularly updated with the arrangements the being made to support people.

Can I get any help with my energy bills?

If you're worried about your gas and electricity bills, please contact your provider to discuss your concerns.
The government has launched an emergency package of measures with energy suppliers - find out more on the gov.uk website and Ofgem’s website.

Can I get council tax support?

If you're worried about paying your council tax, please visit Stafford Borough Council's website to find out what support is available

My home

I am due to sign a new tenancy – will this still go ahead?

Yes. If you have been offered a new property, we will contact you to discuss how you can safely view and sign-up for the property.
The health and wellbeing of our customers and colleagues is of the utmost importance to us during this difficult time. All our staff are working in line with government advice to help keep you safe. You can find out more in our signing up for a new home guidance leaflet.

I have applied to exchange my home – will this still go ahead?

We are still accepting applications for mutual exchanges.  These are reviewed and you will be told whether the application has been accepted or not.

If your application is successful, your mutual exchange will go ahead when it is safe to proceed.

Can I apply for a transfer and if I have already applied will it proceed?

We expect demand for internal transfers between SARH customers to lessen significantly as people follow government advice to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus and remain in their homes.

As we are focusing our resources on delivering the most essential services, we have made the decision to suspend any new internal transfers for existing customers at this time. We will regularly review this decision and let you know here if anything changes.

Please don’t worry if you have already been offered a property and accepted, as your transfer will continue when it is safe to proceed.

How can I contact my homes advisor?

You can call our customer service centre on 0800 111 4554 who can offer you help and advice and refer you to your local homes advisor.

What can I do if my neighbour is not following government advice on social gatherings?

If you are concerned that your neighbour is hosting a large social gathering, we would recommend that you report it to the police on 101 because they have the powers to take any necessary immediate action. Please also let us know by emailing housing@sarh.co.uk so that we can determine whether there is potential nuisance or anti-social behaviour that we need to monitor and manage.
We are working in partnership with the local Police to help customers understand government guidelines on the importance of social distancing.

Repairs

Are repairs still being completed?

All emergency repairs will continue to be carried out and must be reported to our customer services centre by calling 0800 111 4554.

Non-urgent, routine repairs can be reported online 24/7 here. At present, we are unable to give specific timescales for routine repairs to be completed.

In line with current government guidance and to protect homes, some external works, such as major roofing works are also being undertaken.

Our repair operatives continue to follow social distancing and hand hygiene guidelines.

What happens if I need an urgent repair and someone in my household is self-isolating or has coronavirus?

We will attend your home to make it safe or carry out an emergency repair. All of our operatives will follow a set procedure before entering your home.

Please follow their instructions closely for your own safety and that of our operatives.  You and your family will need to stay in another room, with the door closed, whilst our operative undertakes the repair.

What should I do if I want to reschedule an appointment?

All non-emergency repair appointments have been suspended until further notice.

What is classed as an emergency repair and how do I report it?

An emergency repair is a problem that represents an immediate risk to safety, security or health, such as:

  • No heating or hot water
  • Major damage to the structure of your home
  • An uncontrollable water leak
  • A gas leak or dangerous electrical fault.
  • Unsecure front door or window causing a security issue

You can call our customer services team on 0800 111 4554 to report emergency repairs.

Do I have to let you in to undertake a repair?

If you report an emergency repair and we confirm that our repair operative is attending, you must let them in to carry out the work.  This is for your own safety.

We will work with you to arrange when and how the work can be carried out.

How can I report non-urgent, routine repairs?

Non-urgent, routine repairs can be reported online 24/7 here.

At present, we are unable to give specific timescales for routine repairs to be completed.

How do I know it’s safe to let your repair operative into my home?

If we do need to visit, we have set procedures to ensure that all our repair operatives are working in line with current government guidelines.

If you request a repair or other service requiring a visit from our staff, you will be asked some brief questions about your health.

We will ask you remain at least two metres away from our workers at all times and ask you to stay in another room, with the door closed. If you are unable to follow these requests, our operatives have been instructed to immediately leave your home to ensure they continue to keep themselves safe.

When the job has been completed, you will be advised to wipe down the immediate area that our operative has worked in.

By working together, we can help reduce the spread of infection. 

Are your repair operatives wearing masks?

Appropriate protection equipment will be used if our standard screening questions indicate this is a requirement.

Why are you still undertaking grounds maintenance work - is it really necessary work, during the lockdown?

In line with government guidance, our contractors, Idverde are continuing to undertake gardening services.

All operatives are working alone and observing social distancing and hand hygiene rules and as such are not putting themselves or the public at risk.

Grounds staff are not able to work from home and are carrying out their duties safely, to ensure our communal areas are well maintained, kept safe and free from hazards.

Please do not approach our grounds staff and allow them to work safely during this difficult period.

Help us keep you safe - essential safety checks

Will you still be carrying out safety checks?

In accordance with current Government and Health and Safety Executive rules, we are still carrying out vital safety checks, if it is safe to do so, including:

  • Gas safety checks
  • Electrical testing
  • Communal fire door and fire risk assessments
Do I have to let you in to undertake a safety check?

Yes. If we request access for safety checks you must let us in to carry out this vitally important work to help us keep you and your family safe. The government and Health and Safety Executive have informed landlords that they must continue to fulfill their statutory and legal obligations, including safety checks.

What if I am self-isolating?

If you or anyone in your household has coronavirus, are self-isolating or shielding you must tell us so your appointment can be rescheduled for after the isolation period has ended.

To ensure that we do not contravene safety regulations, we must send standard letters to remind you that your safety check is due.

What measures are in place in the current circumstances?

Please be assured that the health and wellbeing of our customers and our operatives is of the utmost importance to us during this difficult time and all operatives are working in line with government guidance on how they should enter and work at a customer’s home.

You can also view the video below from our gas contractors Phoenix Gas, which shares safety guidance on visiting a customer’s home to carry out a heating repair or gas safety check.

Telecare

Can I still apply for the Telecare service?

Yes.  You can either complete our online form here or call us on 0800 111 4554.

What will happen after I apply for Telecare equipment?

Our Telecare team will contact you, when we have received your application, to go through a series of questions and discuss your installation options.

Can I still get the Telecare equipment installed?

At present, the decision to install equipment is being made on a case by case basis. It is dependent on whether the installation will enable you to be discharged from hospital or prevent you being admitted to hospital.

Independent Living

Who do I need to contact if I’m self-isolating?

Please contact your Independent Living co-ordinator to let them know you are self-isolating.
You can also complete our online form here

What should I do if I have symptoms of coronavirus?

If you have coronavirus symptoms you need to follow government guidance – which can be found here.

Can I go out every day to do my shopping?

It’s important that all residents follow government advice to remain in their own home at this time.

Is it ok if my family bring my shopping and visit me?

All our Independent Living schemes are currently closed to visitors. Whilst your family and friends can drop-off essential food and medical supplies, we would ask that they do not stay in your home for a visit.
You need to make your own arrangement to accept deliveries and for the safety of others, food and medicines cannot be left in communal areas or outside doors.

What can I do if my neighbour is not following government advice on social gatherings?

If you are concerned that your neighbour is hosting a large social gathering, we would recommend that you report it to the police on 101 because they have the powers to take any necessary immediate action. Please also let us know by emailing housing@sarh.co.uk so that we can determine whether there is potential nuisance or anti-social behaviour that we need to monitor and manage.
We are working in partnership with the local Police to help customers understand government guidelines on the importance of social distancing.

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