Kevin Stewart, Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning issued the following letter on 8 July to social housing tenants in Scotland:
Some of our services are affected by the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
This means we will be delivering essential community critical services and that non-essential services will be postponed.
This will allow us to focus on the most vulnerable people in our communities. The public reception areas in all of our local housing offices are now closed.
If you have a housing enquiry, contact your local housing office by phone or by email (PDF, 257kb).
Our colleagues in the Area Housing offices are currently working from home, but are available to help you via telephone.
We are working hard to deliver you the best service we can in exceptional circumstances. We appreciate your co-operation and assistance at this time.
View our housing office contact details and additional housing advice for tenants (PDF, 306kb).
Eviction actions suspended
We have suspended all eviction action in light of the ongoing situation regarding Coronavirus.
We know many tenants may face financial hardship during this period. We want to offer all support that we can. If your rent account is in arrears, your Housing Officer will contact you to offer advice and assistance.
While evictions are suspended for the foreseeable future, our Welfare Reform Advice Team is available to help tenants on issues, including:
- welfare rights
- debt advice
If you have concerns about your income or possible rent arrears, you can contact the team on 0300 999 4606 for support.
Following our decision to suspend all eviction action during the COVID-19 crisis, the Scottish Government have confirmed private tenants do not face automatic eviction if they have 3 months' rent arrears. The Scottish Government is extending the automatic eviction ground from 3 months' rent arrears to 6 months' arrears.
For full details see our private sector housing pages.
Recent changes to guidance on working safely mean that landlords can now take steps to address wider issues of repairs and safety inspections, provided these are in line with Scottish Government advice.
All non essential repair work within Council housing was suspended on 20 March 2020. From Monday 6 July 2020 this work began again.
If you reported a repair issue prior to 20 March, we will contact you to arrange a new appointment date and time. If you are shielding, if you are experiencing coronavirus symptoms or have any concerns regarding this work taking place, then please let us know.
It is expected that there will be a high demand for repair work. We will respond to all these requests as soon as possible but it is likely that it will take us longer than normal to complete these repairs. We appreciate your continued patience whilst we continue our service recovery.
If you wish to report a repair, you can do so by calling us on 01294 310000.
The lockdown restrictions have been necessary to reduce the impact of the COVID-19 virus and by doing the right thing, we have helped to slow the spread of the virus. We must continue to follow government guidance to ensure that the work we carry out in your home is carried out in a safe manner that protects you, your family and our staff.
To ensure we work as safely as possible, we will be conducting individual risk assessments for each repair. Our staff may need to ask you to move into a different space in the home to allow them to carry out the works. We appreciate your cooperation with any requests they may make in order to keep you safe.
Gas safety checks
With social distancing measures in place, many of our tenants are spending more time at home. It is essential that gas safety checks are carried out to make sure our tenants and their neighbours are safe.
The Council still has a legal requirement during this COVID-19 situation to carry out an annual service of your gas boiler. This is also about keeping you and your property safe. This is an extremely important matter and access must be given to the gas engineer to carry out this work.
So that you, other members of your household and our engineer can all stay safe, we will not carry out the service if you advise us that someone living in your home:
- has symptoms of COVID-19
- is self isolating or shielding
Measures will be introduced to ensure any risk to you is minimised. To carry out the servicing of your central heating system, our contractors will carry out an individual risk assessment of every property they visit.
We appreciate your co-operation with any requests that are made by the gas service engineer. For example, moving into another room in your home while they carry out the check.
Failure to allow access for this essential work could affect the performance of the system and create a safety risk. We are sure you will appreciate the importance of this safety issue.
Contact us on 01294 322999 to arrange access for the annual service of your boiler if it has missed the last service date. You can also email us at email@example.com
Void property works
We are slowly beginning to resume works on our void properties in line with the latest government guidelines. Some works have now begun within our empty homes; however, these works are limited.
The advice from the government surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic is changing daily. If another lockdown is reinstated, we will resume an emergency only service.
For further information, please see our section on repairs, maintenance and adaptations.
Tenant home contents Insurance
We know that these are increasingly worrying and stressful times for tenants and their families.
Our priority is to ensure the continuation of essential services wherever possible. The Insurance Team are working from home due to the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak so can’t be contacted by phone. However, our email system is fully operational at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please be assured you will continue to be insured during this time. If you cannot get out to make your regular payment please be assured your insurance is still in place and payments can be made when the COVID-19 outbreak is over.
If you need a claim form, please email email@example.com and you will be contacted by us.
Housing Services welfare calls
Housing Services staff are currently carrying out a number of welfare calls to tenants. This is not a scam, these are genuine calls being made by the team to help reach people in our communities at this difficult time. No personal information will be asked for.
If you haven’t received a call yet, it may be that the team do not have up to date contact information for you.
Email them at TenantParticipation@north-ayrshire.gov.uk with your name, address and contact telephone number.