Housing Repairs and Maintenance (14th January update)
Dudley Council’s social housing tenants received a letter from the Government back in May 2020 outlining how Councils would be recommencing carrying out routine repairs to their home in addition to the ‘essential repairs only’ policy we undertook during the first enforced COVID-19 lockdown period last March 2020.
A copy of that letter is available on the gov.uk website: Coronavirus (COVID-19): letter to social housing residents
Following this guidance the Council has worked exceptionally hard to deliver its recovery plan to enable us to safely deliver repairs and maintenance in your home. It is important that we carry out these repairs safely, taking into account appropriate social distancing measure to ensure the continued safety for you as residents, and also for our operatives and our contractors.
Whilst we have now undertaken the majority of of the back-log of our repairs since that first lockdown, we are still not expecting to be able to operate at full capacity, we hope you understand that repairs may take longer than usual.
In a recent open letter to the UK Construction industry on 11th January 2021 the Government has reconfirmed that construction work will continue in this third lockdown, including continuing to work in peoples’ homes.
We will therefore continue to be operating our repairs service under the Government Guidance for landlords and tenants, published on September 1 2020, until such time as this guidance or the letter of 11th January is revoked and / or amended.
Clinically extremely vulnerable groups or shielding households can continue to permit landlords and contractors to carry out routine repairs and inspections, providing that the latest guidance on staying alert and social distancing is followed. The Government Guidance reinforces that it is in the best interests of both residents and landlords to ensure that properties are kept in good repair and free from hazards. Residents should let the Council know early if there is a problem and we will take the appropriate action. If residents are not self-isolating, they can allow local authorities, landlords or contractors access to their home in order to carry out a range of works. This includes:
- routine inspections, including annual gas safety checks;
- essential and non-essential repairs and maintenance; and
- planned maintenance activity inside and outside the home.
Therefore, in addition to carrying out necessary repairs and maintenance we are required to undertake a range of ongoing safety checks such as gas safety checks, electrical inspections, fire safety checks and passenger lift checks in communal areas of flatted developments, which have been ongoing during the lockdown period, but we have not and will continue not to force entry where access is inappropriate due to residents’ self-isolating, or being clinically extremely vulnerable (similar to shielding). We will continue this approach for safety checks by appointment in your home, where required.
We will also continue on our planned maintenance, new build schemes and other projects where we can, having undertaken appropriate risk assessments and following appropriate Government guidance about working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19). This work will include works to empty homes to enable them to be re-let, although we may not be working in every empty home or new empty homes immediately they become empty. Where we are allowing some re-let of properties we will do so safely, and we will be prioritising in accordance with housing need. External planned works and works in communal areas such as door entry systems will continue, and you will be notified in writing before any works start.
We will keep customers informed of progress when we have some news. Our officers continue to work during this period, although in different ways, but our offices will remain closed to the public until further notice.
To reiterate Government guidance, no work will be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is clinically extremely vulnerable, unless it is absolutely necessary to remedy a direct risk. In such a case, prior arrangements will be made with you to avoid any face to face contact, for example when answering the door and / or asking you where possible to be in another room in your home. Safety and your consent is critical, and our operatives and contractors will be up to date with the latest guidance on how to work safely. Operatives and our contractors will follow approved, safe working practices and have appropriate PPE.
Our Housing Maintenance Team continue to provide an emergency repairs service 24/7 to Dudley Council tenants. Tenants should call 0300 555 8283.
Housing Options – We continue to accept and assess applications to join the Housing Register, however, demand is high and there may be delays in us contacting you. More information about housing options available.
Allocations and Lettings – We are continuing to advertise, repair and re-let empty homes safely in accordance with government guidelines. We are carrying out risk assessments to protect both our officers and customers, and we may prioritise our work in accordance with housing needs. There are generally fewer empty homes available for letting at this time.
We will continue to keep customers informed of progress with properties they have been offered.
Housing Support – Our aim is 'To help and support people to achieve a stable home environment, to inspire confidence, promote independence and to encourage them to improve their quality of life’. Whilst we have had to modify the way that we currently provide our services, we continue to offer the following services, for further details on each of the services please click the link available or call us on 01384 812504 where a member of our team will be happy to talk to you. Our services are Floating Support, mediation, drop in/telephone support, intensive family support, garden pathways gardening scheme, employability support, pre tenancy workshops and Housing First.
Homelessness Service - we continue to provide preventative support to avoid homelessness, and our emergency accommodation and advice services continue to operate 24/7. Please contact us via Dudley Council Plus on 0300 555 2345.
Housing Occupational Therapy Team - we are supporting tenants and residents with assessments and advice over the phone or through video calls. Where home visits are necessary, we are offering these in line with our safe working protocols, to protect both our team members and customers. It may be necessary for people to wait a little longer than usual for assessment, due to unavoidable staff shortages at this time and we are prioritising our work where required.
Sheltered housing – Our focus remains on ensuring we keep our homes and schemes as safe as possible for tenants to live in during the coronavirus pandemic. We understand that many tenants will still be feeling anxious and concerned, particularly as we approach the coming winter months. We would like to reassure tenants that our teams are still here to support you, just slightly differently. We have reviewed the frequency of our calls to tenants and will continue to maintain our regular fire testing and checking of communal facilities for hazards.
Private Sector Housing - Up to date information for private tenants or private landlords is available from Shelter. Advice for landlords regarding gas safety information, please check the Gas Safe Register
Tenancy and Estates - Tenancy and Estates continues to offer a full range of services, although some of these services will need to be delivered for now by telephone, post and email. Those key services which may continue to necessitate personal contact will be: estate inspections, enforcing gas warrants, the serving of legal notices, serious tenancy breaches and mutual exchanges. The work of the Estate Assistants continues as normal including carrying out fire safety inspections. Acceptance of tenancy sign ups continue to be completed and new tenancy visits are being conducted by telephone.
We are not in a position to carry out interviews in any of our offices although this situation is continuing to be reviewed. If you have a housing tenancy enquiry please contact Dudley Council Plus by telephone on 0300 555 2345 to speak to your Housing Manager.
Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) Team - The ASB team have continued to operate throughout the COVID pandemic. However, some of the services we would ordinarily provide have had to cease or be adapted during this time. General home visits or face to face interviews we would ordinarily do as part of ASB investigations, have been suspended until further notice. As a service we are only completing essential visits, these visits have been determined and will be for the purposes of responsive/targeted witnessing and installing Noise Recording Equipment (noise complaints).
We are committed to offering the best service we can provide during these times and we would encourage you to continue reporting ASB to us. However, some of the limitations enforced by lockdown and the unprecedented increase in demand for our service since these measures were enforced, may impact upon the overall service we provide to you and therefore we would ask for your commitment and continued patience throughout your journey with our service.
If you do have an ASB complaint or you would like feedback on an open case you may have with the service, we would encourage you to contact Dudley Council Plus by telephone on 0300 555 2345, they will be able to take your complaint/query and filter it through to our service.
Tenant Participation and Engagement – We are continuing to engage and consult with tenants virtually and by social media. For further information or to register your interest please contact the Participation Team on 01384 815168 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Find us on Facebook by searching Participation in Dudley to access our page.