The Minister of State for Housing (MoSfH), Christopher Pincher, sent out a letter to all social housing residents in England on 18 May 2020 to provide some key advice and support.
The support for social housing residents relates to the carrying out of repairs and maintenance (including gas safety checks), moving home and the financial support available to renters during COVID-19.
Repairs and maintenance
During the lockdown period landlords were only permitted to carry out essential repairs. Following the Prime Minister’s announcement to ease the lockdown restrictions on 10 May, the MoSfH has confirmed that, providing the Working safely during coronavirus (COVIS-19) guidance is complied with, landlords can now carry out routine repairs as well as any essential repairs. This includes annual gas safety checks.
Inside Housing reported on 21 May that several housing associations have stated in response to the MoSfH’s letter that the lockdown has resulted in a backlog of major repairs. Accordingly, routine repairs will not be able to be quickly resumed.
The advice remains that no work should be carried out where an individual or the household is isolating unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the residents.
The MoSfH confirms in his letter that tenants seeking to move home, whether this be through a transfer, to move into the private rented sector, or through a mutual exchange, should continue to follow the advice on home moving during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Amy Hazelton has written about this here.
Financial support for social housing residents
Residents are encouraged to continue to pay their rent under the terms of their tenancy agreement but the MoSfH has assured residents that financial support is available for those struggling during this challenging time. The MoSfH has also assured residents that housing possession claims cannot progress to the stage of eviction during the pandemic and the Government has strongly advised landlords not to issue eviction notices during this time.
The MoSfH has also assured social housing residents that housing possession claims cannot progress to the stage of eviction during the pandemic and the Government has strongly advised landlords not to issue eviction notices during this time.
Residents are also advised in the letter that they can submit a claim for additional support in respect of Council Tax. Local authorities can provide a further discount to residents for Council Tax, if they are eligible. More information can be found here.
Other support for social housing residents
The MoSfH has also provided residents with various information and support services for:
- Mental health and wellbeing;
- Vulnerable people;
- Anti-social behaviour; and
- Domestic abuse.
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