Below are some answers to questions being asked regularly by our customers.
Q – I am ill / self-isolating. What should I do?
A – If you have contracted coronavirus or are self-isolating, please let us know when we speak to you. To protect our staff and other customers, unless it is an emergency, we will not visit you in your home during a period of self-isolation. In an emergency, we’ll ask for your co-operation in taking sensible precautions.
Please follow the latest government advice if you or a member of your household displays any potential symptoms of coronavirus.
Q – I am over 65 / have a pre-existing health condition. How does this affect me?
A – If you are 65 or over or with an existing health condition, our staff will have been in touch with you either by phone, email or letter to identify what help you may have available and how we might be able to help you.
Q – How can I be sure that a member of staff or a contractor is not infected with coronavirus if they visit my home?
A – We are ensuring that our staff and contractors have all of the latest information and guidance. Our employees and our contractors are following this guidance in the same way that everyone has been asked to and will take action to protect you as customers and themselves.
Q – What precautions will your staff and contractors take if they have to visit my house to carry out emergency or essential work?
A – If a member of our team or one of our contractors does need to visit your property to carry out essential or emergency works, they will adhere to the following measures:
- The team will sanitise their hands before entering and after leaving each property.
- On entering a property, staff/contractors will ask customers to move to a different area of the property while they are working.
- Our staff / contractors are always required to stay at least 2 metres away from the customer and will avoid contact with surfaces and items that they do not need to come into contact with.
- If working externally, our staff / contractors will ask customers to avoid coming within 2 metres of them.
Click here to watch a video outlining our commitment to safety when visiting your home.
Repairs and maintenance
Q – What is the latest situation regarding repairs and planned maintenance?
A – From 3 August, customers can report new repairs to us. This work will be logged and dealt with in the usual way, and repairs will be carried out using safe methods of working at all times. Initially, those that will be completed first will be repairs where we can complete the work with one operative and ideally, in one visit.
In June we began working through our backlog of previously reported non-emergency internal and external repairs which were put on hold when lockdown was introduced. We have also restarted some elements of the capital works and medical adaptations programmes, specifically relating to works that were already in the system.
This is part of a phased plan based on careful risk assessments to gradually reintroduce our services, and ensure our customers and colleagues remain safe.
Over the coming months we will also be restarting planned works which were paused due to lockdown restrictions on a phased basis, more detail on these works will be provided soon.
For a summary of the safety measures we have in place for repairs and safety appointments, watch this video
Q. Can I report non-emergency repairs?
A – Yes, from 3 August, customers can begin reporting new non-emergency repair to us. Initially, those that will be competed first will be repairs where we can complete the work with one operative and ideally, in one visit.
Q – I’m due for an annual gas safety check. Is it still happening?
A –In accordance with recent guidance from the Health and Safety Executive, we have continued throughout lockdown with our annual gas servicing checks by operatives adopting a safe method of working. However, if your household is affected by Covid-19, or you are self isolating due to being in an ‘at risk’ group, and you do not wish for a check to be carried out at this time, please let us know and we will carry out the gas check when your period of self isolation is over. We may need to reschedule your appointment if we need to prioritise emergency work, but if we do, please be assured that all Irvine Housing Association gas appliances in your home have been well-maintained and serviced regularly, so should continue to work normally.
Please note: Annual gas safety checks are a legal requirement and are an important part of keeping our customers safe. While we will not attend a property to carry out a gas safety check where someone is self-isolating, we will reschedule an appointment to attend once that period of self-isolation is over. These are essential checks that will be carried out during the scheduled appointment and legally our customers must allow access to their property for these checks unless there is a significant and valid reason for access to be refused. All of our checks will be completed using a safe method of working – click here to watch a video explaining the safety measures we have in place.
If you’re worried that a gas appliance in your home isn’t working as it should, call us immediately on 0345 112 6600.
Payment and money advice
Q – I have reduced income as a result of the pandemic and I may struggle to pay rent. What should I do?
A – We know times are tough and that some of our customers are facing new, or more significant, financial challenges as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We are here to help these customers as much as possible and have been providing financial advice and guidance to our tenants throughout this difficult time. We urge customers not to ignore arrears or financial difficulties – if you are in this situation, please contact us and we can talk things through before it gets worse. We are here ready to help you with the following:
- Making a claim for Universal Credit and any other benefits you may be entitled to.
- Agreeing new repayment arrangements to reflect changes in circumstances.
- Assisting with managing household income and expenditure.
- Helping with any tenancy related difficulties resulting in non-payment of rent.
We are starting to resume our standard arrears recovery processes in accordance with Government guidance and legislation, and we will work with our customers as far as possible to help assist them at this time. Our Tenancy Sustainability Team has advice and guidance for anyone who is struggling financially.
If you have any concerns or are experiencing difficulties, please just pick up the phone to chat through your circumstances and email us at [email protected] or call 0345 112 6600.
Q – What sort of impact is Covid-19 having on Irvine HA?
A – We know the current Covid-19 crisis is placing unprecedented demands on households. It’s also a major challenge for our organisation. We’re having to make significant changes to deliver services safely. In some areas, like repairs, we have had to scale back or delay services to keep customers and staff safe. However, in other areas, in particular those which support customers who are elderly, homeless or ill, we’ve had to increase services. We also need to plan for the end of the crisis, when there is likely to be a huge backlog of repairs and other services which will need to be tackled quickly. The cost of this is likely to be high and is hard to predict at this stage but we will continually monitor progress whilst doing everything we can to provide you with essential services.
Q – Will there be a change to factor charges in light of communal and landscaping work being temporarily suspended?
A – As part of our on-going safety measures during the coronavirus outbreak, non-emergency landscaping and work to communal areas was suspended for several weeks. We have now resumed landscaping maintenance work and communal cleaning with a clear agreement that our contractors will adhere to a safe method of working at all times.
You will have received your most recent invoice in March for work carried out during the previous three months, and in July you will receive an invoice which covers the current period. We set our factoring charges based on the total annual cost for the service. The Association will expect our contractors to complete and catch up on all outstanding work following the current situation, and for all specified and additional works arising from the temporary suspension to be completed over the course of the year. Therefore factoring charges will be applied in the normal way reflecting agreed costs for 2020/21.
Q – How will it affect the customer telephone number and will I still be able to contact Irvine HA 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?
A – We anticipate a high volume of calls during this period and that, coupled with potential sickness amongst staff, may lead to longer than usual waiting times. So, please be patient and we will do our best to assist as soon as possible. You could help us manage this by checking the information on our website before calling us.
Q – What’s the best way to contact Irvine HA?
A – Our offices are currently closed and our staff are working from home so we would ask customers not to contact us by post but instead to use electronic methods to get in touch.
Please check the information on our website first but if you need to contact us you can do so in the following ways:
- Email [email protected]
- Call us on 0345 112 6600
Q – Is information available for customers who don’t have access to the internet?
A – Yes, we’ve written to all customers directly to promote a recorded telephone message which will give non internet enabled customers the information on this web page. This is available by calling 0345 112 4466.
Q – I’ve been in touch with Irvine HA to make a complaint about the service, will this still be looked into?
A – We are continuing to investigate complaints in line with our procedure wherever possible and we will agree any actions and timescales based on your complaint query when we speak to you. We may need to put on hold some cases where we would need to carry out work but due to the current service provided we are unable to complete the work, we’ll discuss this with you when we contact you.
Q – Are you still taking action on anti-social behaviour that is reported by tenants?
A – With lots more of us spending much more time at home than we usually would, we would urge our customers to try and be more considerate than ever towards their neighbours. Our housing team continues to log reports of anti-social behaviour and to investigate them as fully as possible within the current coronavirus restrictions. Complaints that require further investigation will be re-opened and investigated fully when the restrictions are lifted. As always, we would advise that you call 999 if you are in immediate danger or concerned for the safety of a neighbour.
Housing and community
Q – Are there any effects on housing services?
A – Where home visits are already scheduled or expected, for example a new tenancy visit or if you are experiencing ASB or other neighbourhood problems or if you’re scheduled to move, we may deliver services in a different way in order to minimise risk. If it is not an emergency, we may contact you to arrange phone calls rather than meet face-to-face.
Q – Is Irvine HA involved in any community initiatives during this time?
A – We are working with our local authority partners, local charities and other stakeholders in a number of ways during this time. For example, in Dumfries we are providing support for the community Fareshare Project which is helping to provide food parcels for local people. As a result, our tenants in Dumfries can be referred to have food parcels delivered to their doorstep by Fareshare Project volunteers. Any Irvine HA tenants in Dumfries who would like to find out more about this service should contact our Customer Service Centre on 0345 112 6600 and ask to be put through to a Dumfries Housing Officer. Referrals received before 4pm on a Monday are passed to the Fareshare Project for delivery of a parcel on a Tuesday afternoon.
A series of community hubs have been set up by North Ayrshire Community Planning Partnership. Their regular updates share useful guidance and contact details for support in local areas – find out more here
Q – How can I help my community?
A – Here are a few top tips:
- Think of others, consider your actions and be kind: People in every community will face the challenges of coronavirus in some way – from needing basic provisions to help whilst they are unwell.
- Connect and reach out to your neighbours: As self-isolation increases, we need to find new ways to stay connected and check in on one another for our physical and mental wellbeing. Share phone numbers and stay in touch.
- Make the most of local online groups: Keep up-to-date, share information and be a positive part of your local community conversations.
- Support vulnerable or isolated people: Different groups in our communities are at increased risk and social isolation and loneliness are key concerns for all ages. There are things you can do like volunteering for local support services or donating to food banks to help.
- Share accurate information and advice: Support anyone who may be anxious about coronavirus. Signpost them to the correct advice from NHS Inform and encourage people to follow the correct hygiene practices.