Coronavirus: advice for customers

Following the latest Government announcement of the new measures that have been introduced around self-isolation, stopping non-essential travel and working from home where possible, Longhurst Group is making some changes to the way we deliver services to our customers.

Coronavirus: advice for customers

  This page was updated: 29/06/2020

We hope you and your loved ones are keeping safe and well.

As we continue to respond to the challenges posed by Coronavirus, we wanted to update you on how we’re looking to return our services to full capacity in a phased and sensible manner while still observing social distancing guidelines.

More information about what this means for you is detailed on this page.


Contacting us

 All of our offices will remain closed to the public for the foreseeable future. Please continue to contact us on the phone or via our website

  Alternatives to postal services

Postal services are likely to be disrupted during this time so please contact us in another way, whether it’s picking up the phone or using our online contact us form


Services provided by our contractors

Following the latest government guidance around social distancing, our contractors are looking to return services to full capacity in a phased and sensible manner.

We are committed to completing any ongoing or planned work where it needs to be completed, to keep customers safe and secure.

Please be assured that all of our contractors are following the government’s health and safety guidance and have the necessary risk assessments in place.

 If accessing your property, contractors should be taking the appropriate action to keep you safe and reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.

 Before agreeing to schedule an appointment, contractors will check whether you or anybody living in your home has coronavirus or is displaying any of its associated symptoms.

 When contractors access your property, they will be wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

 If our contractors are not wearing this clothing, do not allow them access to your property and please call us straight away to make us aware.


Your repairs service from Wates Living Space

We have had two repair priorities during this period:

  • Emergency repair timescale of 24 hours
  • Non-emergency repairs of 120 days.

It’s likely that these timescales will remain for the foreseeable future, although we’ll keep the situation under constant review and share our plans with you when we’ve agreed a change in approach.

It’s important to say that this doesn’t mean that you’ll always have to wait 120 days, however.

If you have a repair, please call us to report it and you’ll be given an appointment, which will be sometime within the next 120 days.

As our repairs service becomes busier, so will our contractor’s phone line. To help you to get through as quickly as possible, we’d recommend calling outside of the busiest times, which are 8.30am to 5pm on Monday, and 8.30am to 11am and during lunchtime (12pm to 1pm) on weekdays.

We appreciate your patience while we work with our contractor to return the service to full capacity.

 When contractors access your property, they will be wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). If our contractors are not wearing this clothing, do not allow them access to your property and please call us straight away to make us aware.


Your heating servicing and heating repairs service from Mears Limited

During the warmer months, there’s less pressure on the heating service and therefore Mears will be able to deliver its normal heating repair service from July 1.

That means you will be able to report your heating repairs as normal from this date.

We’re also continuing annual servicing. It’s really important that our contractor can complete your annual heating service, particularly as people are spending more time at home at the moment.

If your annual service is approaching and you or a member of your household is self-isolating, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can rearrange for the service to take place after your isolation has ended.

If you’re currently shielding, we’ll consider your individual circumstances, taking into account factors such as the age and type of appliance, previous maintenance history and date of the last heating service.

In some situations, we may decide that a gas safety inspection should still go ahead. If this is the case, arrangements will be made to avoid any face-to-face contact, for example, when answering the door. Please be assured that our contractors are fully up-to-date with the latest guidance on how to work safely.

If you smell gas, or have concerns about the safety of your appliances, you should call the gas emergency service provider immediately on 0800 111 999 and switch off appliances until a contractor – or a registered gas engineer – has attended and confirmed that the appliances are safe to use.

 When contractors access your property, they will be wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). If our contractors are not wearing this clothing, do not allow them access to your property and please call us straight away to make us aware.


Grounds maintenance

 Following a further review of our approach, we are pleased to confirm that we are resuming our grounds maintenance services.

This decision follows discussions with our contractors to ensure that safe social distancing practices can be observed while operatives carry out this necessary work.

In the short term, this means there will be some changes to how our contractors work and the frequency of their visits, as we continue to do all we can to protect both our customers and those providing these services.

Over the coming weeks, operatives will spend more time on site to ensure the grounds are brought back up to standard as soon as practical.

Thank you for your continued patience and understanding during this challenging time. 


Communal areas

Where you live, if there are areas where you come into close contact with other residents, including communal areas inside and outside, please follow the government’s social distancing guidelines and remain at least two metres apart. Please also avoid congregating in groups, also in line with the government guidance.

We have already taken the decision to close communal areas at some of our schemes, including laundries and communal lounges, where we feel social distancing cannot be achieved.


Cleaning

 Following a further review of our approach, we are pleased to confirm that we have resumed all window cleaning contracts across our operating area.

Cleaning is still being carried out in key communal areas at our properties. Cleaners are using stronger products as part of an upgraded cleaning service in these areas.  


Pre-planned works

We’re working closely with our contractors to relaunch our pre-planned and cyclical programmes of work over the coming months. 

Our contractors have provided us with updated safe working practices, outlining how they’ll work safely in and around your home in order to protect you and your family as well as their operatives.

These have been reviewed and are under ongoing assessment to ensure they continue to meet our expectations and comply with current government guidance.

As always, we’ll contact you in advance of any proposed work that will affect your home. However, no work will be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded.

If you don’t feel comfortable with us undertaking the proposed work, we’ll be happy to reschedule for another time.


An update from our Housing Team

We’re pleased to let you know that we’ve restarted our lettings process. Our Housing colleagues are beginning to increase their presence within our communities to ensure that the areas we’re responsible for remain safe and clean.

When we need to visit customers’ homes, we’ll ensure that we continue to follow Government guidance around social distancing and we’d ask that customers also do the same. 

If we need to visit you at home, we’ll get in touch in advance to ensure that you and anyone living with you is symptom-free. If you or anyone else develops symptoms after the appointment has been agreed, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can reschedule.


Coping financially

We understand that the current situation is extremely worrying. You are likely to be concerned about your health and safety and the wellbeing of your family and friends, while also wondering how you will cope financially.

Many of you will be experiencing increased uncertainty around your income and what the future might hold.

As a responsible landlord, we want to provide you with as much reassurance and support as we possibly can, but it is really important that you continue to pay your rent.

 If you are having any difficulties with paying your rent, related to coronavirus or otherwise, then we are here to help.

Our dedicated team of income and money advice experts are on hand to listen to your concerns and provide clear and compassionate guidance.

They will assess all of your options and ensure that you’re accessing any support you are entitled to.

Please do not suffer in silence. There are options available to you, and we are here to help.

If you are worrying about your finances, pick up the phone and speak to us today – call 0300 123 1745 and press 2 to speak to the Income Team.

  Coronavirus - money advice for our customers

Read our Money Advice Team's useful tips and advice on how to manage your finances during the Coronavirus outbreak


All of these measures are subject to further and ongoing review and if and when government advice changes.

 Remain vigilant

During these uncertain times, some people will try to prey on people’s concerns and vulnerabilities. We’ve already had reports of people contacting customers about hoax insulation work.

 Please be extra vigilant when answering your door to anybody, taking any calls and reading emails, to ensure they are genuine.

Our contractors should always be wearing identification. If they do not have identification or are not wearing PPE, do not let them into your property.

  Any concerns you may have

Although the way in which we deliver services is changing, we are still here to support you and would encourage you to get in touch on the phone and online to access all of our services. 

We know that many customers will be concerned about job security and potential changes to their income and we would advise you to contact us to talk through these concerns.

  Here to help

As well as our Money Advice Service, we are currently looking at what more can do to help people who may be struggling financially over the coming weeks and months.

If you are looking to find work, want to brush up on your skills or learn new ones, we can help you - we also offer employment and skills support.

More information about this will be released when we have it. 


  Spotting the signs of Coronavirus

For the most up-to-date information on coronavirus please visit the NHS webpage

We would urge customers to continue to follow the Government’s advice to avoid catching and spreading germs.

 Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel.

 Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after using public transport. Use a sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.

 Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

 Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.

The symptoms of Coronavirus are similar to a flu:

 Cough

 High temperature

 Shortness of breath

If you have these symptoms, or you have recently returned from travelling to an affected area, you should call the NHS helpline on 111.

Please do not visit your GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

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