Coronavirus: an update from us

May 5th, 2020 in Home Group News

We know this is a difficult and worrying time for many of our customers. We’re here to help.

As the situation with Coronavirus is evolving quickly, we are following government advice closely and our priority remains to do everything we can to keep our customers and colleagues safe and well.

We know you have questions and we’re sharing the frequently asked ones here. Please keep checking back as we know this situation will continue to change and we will add information when it’s new and helpful.   

Suppliers can find out more on our procurement page.

Frequently asked questions
General
What has changed and what can we expect from Home Group in coming weeks and months?

The main changes for our customers are;
  • The move to emergency repairs and maintenance only
  • More conversations taking place over the phone that might have been face to face before

We know there will be lots of other changes for our customers in their daily lives, and it’s a really difficult time. We’re here to help, and our team are on standby to have conversations with any customers who are worried.

The situation is very fast moving, and as a team we are focussed on digesting these changes quickly and doing the right things for our customers and colleagues.

We’ll keep you updated as the situation evolves.

Is your call centre still open?

Our call centre team are all working from home, to provide exactly the same service to our customers. They made this move really quickly, and there has been no reduction to service.

Where can I find out more information about Coronavirus?

If you would like further information about Coronavirus, please visit the NHS website.

Rent and finances

I’m worried about paying my rent or service charge. What can I do?

We understand this is a really difficult situation for some of our customers. Our team are on standby to help you with this and make sure you get the support you need.

To help, we’ve introduced some new policies and advice. You might be able to pay less for a while. Although you will still have to pay the balance at a later date, we will set a sensible repayment agreement with you and you can be confident that this situation will not affect your tenancy with us.

Our Housing Managers are contacting customers directly to discuss what you need but they might not manage to reach everyone so don’t hesitate to call us.

If you need to speak to us more urgently, call our team on
0345 141 4663 so that we can discuss your circumstances and help put in place the things you need to lessen any concerns you have about paying your rent.

If you can’t pay your rent or service charge because you normally go out to pay it, and you’re currently in isolation, call the team on
0345 141 4663.

If you have any questions about benefits, please visit the government 
Help to Claim service

Does Home Group have a helpline for those people who may need advice about money concerns?

We have a financial inclusion team who are on standby to help. If you are contacting our customer service centre and are concerned about this, you can be referred to this specialist team.

Repairs and maintenance

Are you still doing repairs?

For the health and well-being of our colleagues and contractors, we have made the difficult decision to move to carrying out emergency repairs only for the near future.

Customers can still log non-emergency repairs with us, and we will be in touch to discuss the best time to complete these. We are not able to provide timescales for this at the moment. 

If I needed an emergency repair, how will you keep us and the workforce safe?

If you needed an emergency repair, our contractor or colleague attending would be social distancing. This means they may ask you to stay in another room. They will also be wearing all of the right protective equipment to protect their and your health and wellbeing.

Is it still the same telephone number to contact for repairs?

Yes, our customer service team is working as normal or you can report a repair on the website.

Why is there someone from Home Group (or one of your contractors) doing work near our house?

Our priority is customer and colleague safety. We are now doing limited work in areas where our colleagues and contractors can distance themselves safely. Before we start any of this work, we carry out risk assessments and we are making sure all colleagues are aware of the right way of carrying out any jobs safely. 
 
Are you now starting back up non-emergency repairs?

Our customers have been brilliant during this period and really understanding of our approach to repairs. We are currently delivering emergency repairs, but will start to deliver others where we can do so safely over the coming weeks.

Finding and moving into a new home

I’m on the waiting list for a rented property. Will I still get a home?

We are assessing applications for rented housing a little differently at the moment to make sure we can continue to help people who urgently need to move. This includes, in some cases, working with local authorities who have asked for our help to house individuals or families in an emergency. If you do not urgently need to move at the moment, we may ask you to wait a little longer, in line with government guidance which says that people should avoid moving home at the moment.

I’m about to exchange/I own a shared ownership property and I’m concerned. What can I do?

Our new policies and procedures about rent payments apply to shared ownership customers as well. Although you will still have to pay the balance at a later date, we will set a sensible repayment agreement with you.

If you are buying a shared ownership property and have concerns about payments, contact our team on
0800 073 0600.

If you already own a shared ownership property and are worried about your rent payments, you can contact our team on
0345 141 4663.

Symptoms and social distancing

Should we notify you if somebody in our flat has symptoms?

You don’t need to tell us, but you should self-isolate as the government advises. If you need an emergency repair, we will ask if you are self-isolating as part of any conversations before the repair is booked.

How are you checking in on vulnerable customers?

We are contacting all customers, starting with our more vulnerable customers. We are phoning everyone to check in on their welfare, and whether they need any help. If we can’t get in touch over the phone after 3 attempts, we are emailing and after that, we will follow our welfare check procedure.

What is Home Group doing about getting customers to keep their children inside? 

We’ve communicated with all customers about being good neighbours in our latest Homelife magazine, and we’ll be dealing with any ASB complaints as we normally would. It isn’t our role to check that people are following social distancing (i.e. children playing out), however our housing teams will be reminding people if necessary.