Last updated on . Do visit this page regularly as we will update it to reflect any changes in circumstances.
On this page you can see the tenant letter of 24/3/20 and further explanations of what it means for you regarding:
- Your tenancy agreement
- Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
- Preparing for the worst
- Employment situation
- Income support measures
- Rent payment
- Repair procedures
We sent all tenants this letter:
24 March 2020
The coronavirus emergency and special situation
We are shut due to Coronavirus. Do not try to come into our offices. We will not be there and if we are we will not let you in.
As of today we will only deal with emergency work on your property. This will continue until further notice.
Emergency work is something affected by the Housing Health and Safety Regulations. See full list of what that means here https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/housing-health-and-safety-rating-system-hhsrs-guidance
We are taking this action to protect public health and are acting in accordance with UK Government instructions issued on 23rd March 2020 by the Prime Minister.
During this crisis if you have any of the emergencies listed under HHSRS then contact us on 01695 556703 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are sent home from work, please check if your employer is going to pay you and how much. If you find you are unable to pay your rent then you must immediately apply to Universal Credit to start getting government assistance. You may also get help called the Discretionary Housing Payment from your local authority.
There is much more detail about what you should do and not do on our website here http://www.yourlets.biz/coronavirus Please do visit and take all its points to heart.
During this time we will not be extending or renewing or ending any tenancies from our side. The most recent advice is to stay where you are. Go on paying rent and wait it out until we are safe to move about again.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to email us on email@example.com.
We wish you all the very best of health and hope we can all keep each other safe and protect those who are vulnerable.
William, Concepta and Claire
More details and explanations for the letter
Your tenancy agreement
We want you to feel comfortable and secure in your home. We normally contact you towards the end of the fixed term of your tenancy and offer you a chance to extend it for 6 or 12 months or more. At first, during this crisis, we will not be doing that. This doesn’t mean that your tenancy is coming to an end.
If for any reason we don’t extend by way of contract your tenancy will become a contractual (or possibly statutory) periodic tenancy. This will run on from month to month without interruption. If you want to extend for a fixed term we will be able to arrange that later on.
So to repeat – “not extending” does not mean your tenancy will end. It just means not extending to a new fixed term.
If you have any questions or worries at all about this do please email or call us.
Housing Health and Safety Rating System
This is a short explanation of how a house is assessed to see if there are any hazards that need attention. How hazardous or dangerous any fault is in these areas depends on two things 1) the severity of the fault and 2) the ages and disabilities of the occupants.
You can also read the full UK Gov COVID-19 and renting: guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities which covers these points and lots more. But be aware – it is non-statutory, just guidance
How hazards in your home are assessed
We or your landlord or environmental health work out if there’s a risk of harm due to hazards in your home.
What is considered:
- the chance of harm
- how serious it would be
- any extra risk to children or older people
Any hazards in your home are then rated as “category 1” or “category 2”. Category 1 hazards are the only ones we will try and deal with. But do see below for the restraints we will be working under.
You can download a full list of the hazards considered along with short explanations in this PDF version here.
While the coronavirus threat is still very active the only hazards we would consider as giving rise to emergencies are listed below. Other hazards are very unlikely to develop as all our houses are in good quality to start with.
The main concern we have is with boiler breakdowns or faults and that is covered in hazard 2, 6 and 9. Other less common ones are blocked drains and leaking pipes in hazard 17, electrical failure under 23, roof failure or leakage under 29
2 Excess Cold
Health threat from low indoor temperatures from lack of central heating or affordable heating, poor insulation, disrepair of heating system or building components etc.
6 Carbon Monoxide (CO) and fuel combustion products
Health threat from excess levels of CO, nitrogen dioxide (e.g. from gas cookers), sulphur dioxide (e.g. from coal fires) and smoke in the dwelling.
9 Uncombusted Fuel Gas
Health threat from escaping gas within a dwelling causing potential explosions/fire.
17 Personal hygiene, sanitation and drainage.
Infectious disease and effects on mental health associated with poor personal hygiene due to inadequate washing and clothes washing facilities, sanitation and drainage.
23 Electrical Hazards
Shocks and burns from electrocution due to defective wiring, plugs etc. Includes lightning strikes.
29 Structural Collapse and Falling Elements
Injury arising from falling slates, bricks, ceiling plaster or windows etc. and collapse from structural failure of roofs, walls or floors, guard rails etc.
What you must do to help
Be very careful about what you put down the drains – sinks, bath, shower, toilet. Be sure not to pour hot fats or similar down the kitchen sink. Don’t put anything into the toilet except toilet paper – no nappies or sanitary towels.
Be careful with door handles and hinges.
Test your smoke alarms regularly. If they are battery powered it is your responsibility to replace the battery when it runs down. This is usually indicated by a “chirp” every minute or so.
We do have to remind you that your tenancy agreement very specifically forbids the use of gas or liquid fuel portable heaters in your house.
Preparing for the worst
Get some things setup for an emergency –
Q: What happens if the boiler fails and we cannot repair it for some time?
A: have ready at least two working electric kettles and two or three electric fires.
Q: What happens if your cooker fails and we cannot repair it for some time?
A: have ready a microwave oven
Q: What happens if the electricity fails and we cannot repair it for some time?
A: have ready several decent LED battery powered/rechargeable lights.
Make sure you know where all the safety switches are located. Work out how you would find them in the dark.
- gas emergency stopcock
- electricity consumer unit and master switches
- water stopcock
There is a large labour shortage at present for field and farm workers. Your present job may not need you but the farmers do and if you are fit and able why not? Here are two sites where you can look up job vacancies on farms.
As we understand it if you have a contract of employment all the legislation regarding proper notice etc must still be adhered to. If you are working for a company that cannot continue trading normally, due to the closures, and have to stop working your employer can if he wants get UK Gov help. This applies even to people on zero hours contracts.
He or she should be able to get a grant for 80% of your salary or wages. He can then pay you that and keep you employed. Even while you are doing nothing at home. This is called being “on furlough”.
This is a very good UK Gov explanation of how it works for employees
Of course, it is up to your employer whether or not he uses that scheme. But in many cases he cannot simply say truthfully to you “We cannot afford to pay you while we are shut”. Challenge him, kindly, if he does and refer him or her to UK Gov Claim for your employee’s wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Work with him and help him (or her) to get the grant and continue paying you.
If you have any doubts about the way you have been treated by your employer you should contact your local Citizens’ Advice Bureau.
- Lancashire West Citizens Advice (West Lancashire) Unit 47 The Concourse Shopping Centre, SKELMERSDALE, Lancashire, WN8 6LN
- Wigan Citizens Advice Wigan Life Centre The Wiend, WIGAN, Greater Manchester, WN1 1NH
Income support measures
Your number one priority is to see if you are eligible for financial assistance. Usually this is Universal Credit. It may be Housing Benefit as well on the old scheme. Even if you have some money coming in from your employer you may still need new assistance or to have your present assistance increased.
You must check yourself to see if you are entitled to it. No one will come to you offering the assistance. So make sure you check your eligibility then apply for Universal Credit. To get your housing benefit element of that or similar you may well need a copy of your tenancy agreement so make sure you have that to hand. It will also be good to have all the other things you might need like P45, bank statements, National Insurance number etc
The majority of UK workers will be eligible for rent via Universal Credit or you should get most of your regular wages from your employer while working under the new UK Gov Claim for your employee’s wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
If you are self employed you are also entitled to help through the UK Gov (COVID-19) Self-employment Income Support Scheme
As a last resort you can apply to your local council for something called the Discretionary Housing Payment or DHP. You would need to contact your local council directly. The councils also have support pages. Here are the three local ones
If you or anyone in your household has self-diagnosed with coronavirus you must tell us when you call in with a repair problem. Also, if someone comes to your house to fix a fault you must confirm to them that neither you nor anyone in the house has self-diagnosed in the last 14 days or tell them if someone has self-diagnosed.
Very importantly you must also tell us if anyone in your household is in the “vulnerable person” category. You must tell us when you first report the fault and then confirm that to the tradesperson when he or she arrives to do the work.
Depending on the exact nature of the fault and the situation with our tradespeople you may have to do many things in order to allow any repair work to go ahead. These may include any or all of things like:
- leaving the house completely while the tradesperson is in
- not being in the same room as the tradesperson
- not going within 2m or 6ft of the tradesperson
- no personal contact or shaking hands with the tradesperson
- opening all the doors and windows before the tradesperson comes in in order to air the house thoroughly
- having a supply of soap and running water for the tradesperson to wash their hands
- not sneezing or coughing into the open air while the tradesperson is in the house
- clearing away all household objects obstructing the area being worked on
- keep all pets out of the house at all times
- follow our code of COVID-19 hygiene