Government updates to residents
On 18 May, Christopher Pincher, Minister of State for Housing, set out the measures they're putting in place to support social housing residents during the next phase towards reopening society in a letter to all social housing residents in England. This letter includes information about maintenance and repairs, gas safety checks, remediation works, home moves, support for domestic abuse victims and anti-social behaviour.
You can find a summary of the letter below as well as the option to read the full letter.
Summary of the letter to social housing residents in England
Maintenance and Repairs
- As lockdown measures are eased, landlords should be able to carry out routine as well as essential repairs for most households.
- There will be a backlog of repairs that they will need to address, so it may take longer than normal to carry out more non-essential work.
- Contractors' operatives entering your home should notify you in advance of arrival, maintain a safe distance and follow hygiene procedures.
- No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk.
External maintenance and services
- The Government is expecting many landlords to resume external planned maintenance works and services.
- Internal planned maintenance will only take place in homes where residents are not shielding or self-isolating.
- Landlords may also carry out maintenance and repairs in empty properties, so that they can be re-let to new tenants.
Gas safety checks
- Landlords should make every effort to abide by statutory safety obligations, such as annual gas safety inspections, particularly as people are spending most of their time at home.
- If you are self-isolating, you should inform your landlord who will rearrange the gas safety check to take place after your isolation has ended.
- If you are shielding, your landlord will balance the risk presented taking into account factors such as the age and type of appliance, previous maintenance history and date of the last gas check. In some situations, this might indicate that the gas safety inspection should still go ahead.
- The Government is clear that making buildings safe, including remediating high-rise buildings with unsafe cladding or insufficient fire safety measures, remains a top priority for the Government.
For tenants seeking to move home
- The Government has made changes to legislation to make clear that people who wish to move home can do so. Changes will apply to tenants who are seeking to transfer, move into alternative accommodation in the private rented sector, or mutually exchange.
- The process of finding and moving into a new home will need to be different, those involved in the process will have to adapt in ways to ensure that the risk of spreading coronavirus is reduced as far as possible. This is particularly important for those who are shielding.
Managing rent payments
- During this period, you should continue to pay rent and abide by all other terms of your tenancy agreement to the best of your ability. If you have trouble paying your rent, you should speak to your landlord as soon as possible.
Seeking possession of a property
- The Government took early steps to introduce legislation to require landlords to give three months’ notice of their intention to seek possession of a property (serve notice that they want to end the tenancy). This means that it will be three months before a landlord can apply to the court to proceed with any possession action. This legislation currently applies to all notices issued between the dates of 26 March 2020 and 30 September 2020 inclusive (although this period can be extended if needed).
- The courts have suspended ongoing housing possession claims from progressing for 90 days from 27 March, meaning that cases currently in the system or any cases about to go into it cannot progress to the stage where someone could be evicted. The suspension applies to all housing possessions proceedings in the rented and leasehold sectors. We are also strongly advising landlords not to issue new notices seeking possession during this challenging time without a very good reason to do so. Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Local Council Tax Support
- The Government has provided councils in England with £500 million of new grant funding. The majority of this fund will be used to provide working-age Local Council Tax Support claimants with a further discount in their Council Tax bill. Please contact your local council to find out if you are eligible for this additional support.
These guides provide advice on how to look after your mental health and wellbeing:
Support for extremely vulnerable people
Around 2.2 million people in England with underlying severe health conditions who must be protected, have been asked to stay at home. People in this group are able to register for a regular food box delivery online or via the dedicated hotline.
Social landlords, the police and councils have a significant range of powers to tackle anti-social behaviour. In response to the coronavirus outbreak all possession cases before the courts, including possession action against tenants for anti-social behaviour, has been suspended for three months. Your landlord can still support you if you are suffering from anti-social behaviour or contact your local council’s community safety team for advice and support.
Support for victims of domestic abuse
For anyone who is or feels they are at risk of abuse, it is important to remember that there is help and support available to you, including police response, online support, helplines, refuges and other services.
The Government’s advice on coronavirus is available in one place, covering a range of topics.