Why aren’t your offices open to the public yet?
For the last few months we have had to close our offices to the public to keep both you and our team safe. Our offices are now open to the public on an appointment only basis. It is important that appointments are made in advance directly with the member of staff you need to see as not all staff are working in the office all the time. There are a number of safety measures implemented to ensure your safety during an appointment and the member of staff will talk you through these when you make your appointment.
I need to see a member of your scheme's support team - can I do this?
Some of our more vulnerable customers and those living on our independent living schemes can now take advantage of our COVID19 compliant face-to-face visits on request.
This will be on a case by case basis and we may ask certain things of you to maintain safety, we may for example meet outside or focus on the 2m social distance measures. We will review each visit and if helpful we may also come with the correct PPE. Staff will be able to explain the safety measures in place as and when these visits take place so if you have any concerns please ask - they will be happy to talk you through things.
Additionally, we are now operating a “surgery” type appointment at selected schemes. Your local Support Officer will have more details on the specific arrangements for your scheme.
I am part of the Devon Homelink support service, when will I get to see my Support Officer in person?
We are looking into how we can expand our support service to include some face-to-face appointments for the most vulnerable of our customers. For now, the main service will remain by phone and digital but we’ll be in touch with the customers who we will review their face to face visits soon.
Can I get a support alarm fitted?
Yes, our alarms service is operating as normal, contact the team on 01271 312500 to arrange having an alarm installed.
Are your communal rooms in schemes open?
We recognise the value that our customers place on being able to come together in communal lounges and are constantly reviewing safety measures to see when we may be able to open. We are also talking to our customer involvement groups about how we do this. At this stage we do not feel that we can open these facilities safely but will continue to develop and challenge our thinking as new government guidelines and advice are developed. Thanks for your understanding as we look to manage the coronavirus risk together.
We have a shared garden, am I allowed to use it?
Communal gardens are an important facility and these remain open for use by residents, dependent upon use of social distancing. In order to encourage responsible and respectful use of shared gardens we have agreed a set of principles with customer representatives:
- The communal space is for the enjoyment of all our customers
- Our communal spaces should be seen as places of safety, tolerance and respect. We expect residents enjoying the garden to make other visitors to the facility feel welcome and safe by acknowledging with a simple greeting and maintaining social distancing.
- Occasionally, customers will seek to enhance the space for example by planting shrubs or decorating with plant pots. Such enhancements are generally welcome, but any such enhancements are seen as a voluntary contribution to the space, and do not confer any ownership to the customers who made the donation. North Devon Homes reserve the absolute right to determine if such enhancements are appropriate or not and request removal if necessary. If enhancements are not removed at our request, we will remove them and seek to recharge any associated costs, including making good any disturbance or damage to the area.
- Similarly, time spent by residents working in these spaces should be seen as a voluntary contribution for the benefit of all and does not bestow any sense of ownership or preferential access on those contributing in this way.
- In line with the NDH pet permissions policy, dogs should be kept on leads in communal areas.
- The communal space is the property of North Devon Homes, and we reserve the right to limit use if, in our opinion, some or all users are not respecting these principles.
- At the current time, no further items should be added to the garden. The placing of personal items in communal gardens can lead to a sense of ownership which goes against the communal nature of these spaces.
- Items donated to communal areas should not be removed by individuals for personal use.
What should I do if I have a repair?
As normal please call us on 01271 312500, or if it is not an emergency you can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org. From here we will try to diagnose the problem over the phone or make an appointment for the repair to be carried out.
Our phone lines remain open from 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Outside of these times we have a dedicated emergency out of hours service which will be able to provide advice and help you with emergencies by calling 01271 312522.
If you are not able to be at home for an agreed appointment, please let us know so we can rearrange and we will then be able to help somebody else. Please keep us updated if things change to help us help as many customers as we can as quickly as we can.
How long will I have to wait for my repair?
Our repairs service is running as normal and so you will have your repair completed within our usual service standards.
If I am self isolating do I have to let someone in for my repair or servicing?
When speaking to our team to arrange these appointments we will try to diagnose some problems over the phone and complete a health and risk check for the appointment to see whether you or your family are self-isolating.
Some servicing and / or repairs may (if a risk to safety) be more important. Our staff and contractors have been taking the very best advice and have developed ways of working in your home that will reduce the risk to you and them. They will be happy to explain these to you when they visit and in some circumstances it is important or essential to visit your home. Please be assured that works will be done with your safety in mind but we would need to visit in these cases.
How will I be kept safe when you come to do a repair?
A lot of thought has gone into how we keep customers and staff safe in these conditions. We will make sure we abide by our promises to you:
- Keeping a 2m distance from you at all times, including stepping back once knocking at your front door to allow you to answer safely
- We will follow appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment) procedures
- We will not send a member of staff who is unwell or showing symptoms
And we will ask that you abide by a few promises to us to ensure we can carry out the work safely:
- Keep you and your family in another room to where the work is taking place, or if work is in a communal area staying inside your own home
- Let us know if anyone in your family becomes unwell or is self-isolating so we can rearrange your appointment
- Do not offer operatives refreshments during the appointment, they will be bringing anything they need with them
If we need to be in your home for an extended period of time and we have to access several rooms, we may ask you to vacate it, but we would agree to this in advance and answer your questions. We would also ask that you follow the Coronavirus cleaning guidelines provided by the Government.
If we cannot maintain social distancing our staff may have to leave without completing the repair.
Why do I have to let someone in for servicing appointments?
North Devon Homes must complete a gas safety check on every gas appliance on an annual basis by law. Whilst we can defer this check in some circumstances if you are self-isolating, we are also obliged to undertake a risk assessment to determine whether this is a safe course of action. This does place you at risk and we are keen not to do so. We would really appreciate it if you could work with us to allow us to complete these vital safety checks.
We are also continuing as normal with all other compliance services such as light and fire alarm testing. Please continue to work with us to allow access to your home.
I am due some planned improvement works e.g. kitchen, bathroom adaptations, rewire, front door – will this be happening?
We are reviewing all our planned improvements and bathroom adaptations in light of the Coronavirus risk with our contractors and looking at what we need to do differently to minimise the risk to customers and staff. This is taking some time to get right but we have identified a number of things that we will be able to do and are working through others. As part of this we will be assessing things like the time required in the property, the ease at which we can work safely and our available resources. We will be in touch with customers who were expecting planned improvements to update you on our plans and arrangements.
Should I be paying my rent?
Where you are able to, rent payments should continue as normal to ensure you don’t go into rent arrears on your home. If you would like to know anything about paying your rent, your rent balance or help with money matters please email the team on email@example.com or visit www.ndh-ltd.co.uk/my-home/paying-your-rent.
If you have had a change of circumstances and think you will struggle to pay your rent, you can make a claim for Universal Credit online at www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit. If you don’t have internet access, you can call 0800 328 5644.
If you need information about Housing Benefit, or your Council Tax, you should call North Devon Council’s customer service team on 01271 327711.
If you still have concerns or difficulties, please contact our income team - preferably by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org where you can request a call back.
Can I move home or complete a mutual exchange?
We are working with customers on a new virtual lettings process to be able to complete new lettings. All our properties for let are being advertised on Devon Home Choice as normal for bidding. Mutual exchanges can now take place with a few additional procedures to ensure everyone’s safety. For more information on how lettings are taking place please contact email@example.com.
My tenancy is due for review, will this still go ahead?
If your tenancy is due for review we will be in touch to arrange this either over the phone or by video call, we will discuss options with you on this call.
What about cleaning, grass cutting etc, are my communal areas still going to be looked after?
We will continue to provide cleaning and grounds maintenance services in communal areas. Grounds maintenance like grass cutting is being done in small teams, to keep people safe by maintaining social distancing according to Government guidelines. This may lead to some delays, so please bear with us. Cleaning will include ‘touch points’ such as door handles and taps.
Can I use our local playground?
All playgrounds are now open and signposted with safety information. We may need to close some playgrounds if we deem them to be a risk.
My neighbour isn’t sticking to social distancing, what can I do?
As a community landlord we are urging everyone to play their part. If you are unsettled by any groups who are violating any Government advice or committing crimes you can report them online at: https://services.devon-cornwall.police.uk/crimereporting.