Coronavirus: Protecting tenants and staff and maintaining quality customer service (Update May 2020)
Following my communication to all tenants dated 6th April 2020, I have set out some further considerations to keep tenants informed of the current position as we continue to respond to Coronavirus. I hope that you are all as safe and well as possible in these trying circumstances. Our team are working hard to ensure that we continue to offer support to tenants where it is most needed and I encourage you all to get in touch if there is anything we can do to assist you and your family at this time.
Rent Increase Suspension
The Board of Albyn Housing Society recently approved a temporary suspension of the planned increase to rent levels with effect from 01 April 2020 for a period of six months. This decision has been implemented through applying a credit to your rent account equivalent to the value of the 2.7% rent increase. This equates to an average of around £10 per month for all Albyn social rent tenants.
If you need to amend you monthly or weekly direct debit to reflect this change, please contact the housing team who will be able to advise on the process for amending direct debit mandates. Alternatively, you can change standing orders directly with your bank or make revised rent payments through Allpay.
The Society have set up a Hardship Fund to help tenants who are having difficulty meeting their household costs due to loss of earnings caused by the Coronavirus situation. We are able to provide grant payments to purchase food, help with energy and phone bills and internet connectivity where it is essential for you to keep in touch with your loved ones. In some circumstances, we can also provide help with your rent but please note that we are not able to provide a grant for this if you are already in receipt of the housing element of Universal Credit or you receive Housing Benefit as any grant provided for rent relief would affect your entitlement to these benefits.
If you feel that you would benefit from this assistance, please contact your Housing Officer, who will be happy to provide advice on the qualifying criteria and will send you the application form if you will qualify for assistance.
You may well have noticed that we are currently not providing our normal repairs service. Repairs are currently restricted to emergencies and essential urgent works only. We are currently building up a list of reported repairs and will be putting a plan into place to ensure that these repairs are picked up by our contractors as soon as it is safe for them to go back into your homes. It may take us some time to catch up with the backlog of repairs that is building up and we would ask you to bear with us whilst we deal with these.
Re-letting Empty Properties
Due to the difficulties being experienced by people attempting to move house at this time, we have also put a hold on re-letting properties that have become empty. All mutual exchanges have also been put on hold until further notice due to the difficulty in maintaining social distancing during these. Whilst we understand that this will cause some frustration amongst those tenants who are seeking a move to more suitable accommodation to meet their needs, we hope that you can understand that we have had to introduce these measures for the safety of all.
Whilst we have restrictions on some of our services, we will still deal with genuine reports of anti-social behaviour and robustly deal with cases where there is evidence to do so.
We have implemented a Covid-19 Domestic Abuse policy and we will fully support any tenant who is experiencing or comes forward requiring assistance with this. Please visit our website for practical advice or contact us directly if it is safe to do so.
Albyn has also made financial contributions to local community groups for them to provide food packages and hot meals to vulnerable people.
We continue to prioritise gas servicing, not just because it remains a legal requirement, but also because it helps to protect your safety at home.
Lastly, we understand these are really challenging times for everyone and we hope that you are as safe and well at home as possible. If for any reason this is not the case, then please contact your Housing Officer so that we can provide some assistance.
With best wishes,
Chief Executive, Albyn Housing Society