Covid-19 (Coronavirus) FAQs for Tenants

How can I contact Ark Housing while the offices are closed to the public?2020-05-03T19:46:25+00:00

While our offices are closed to visitors, our team will be working as normal and you can reach them during office hours (9.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Thursday and 9:00am to 4:30pm Friday) by:

Can I still get my repairs done?2020-05-03T19:28:12+00:00

To protect us all, internal repairs are now limited to emergency essential work only. Non-essential repairs will not be carried out at this time. Essential external repairs and repairs to vacant properties will continue for now.

If you contact us about a non-essential repair, we will take the detail of the repair and log it in our system. At this time, we will not issue the job to a contractor. We will address non-essential repairs when normal service resumes.

What is an emergency essential repair?2020-05-03T19:28:49+00:00

Emergency essential repairs are those that if not completed, could put you, a third party (e.g. neighbour or pedestrians on the street), or the building at risk or, that will cause a health and safety risk. These include:

  • Failed heating system and/or no hot water
  • Unsafe gas supply/installation
  • Burst water pipes
  • Lack of electrical supply/unsafe electrics

This is not a complete list and we will assess each repair individually to determine whether it is an emergency or not.

Will I get emergency repairs done if I am self-isolating or shielding?2020-05-03T19:29:25+00:00

If you’ve been told to self-isolate, or shielding on GP advice, or experiencing any symptoms, you must let us know when you report your repair.

We will ask you to answer some questions about your household’s health and recent travel to assess the risk of carrying out the repair before a decision is made.

If your repair is inside the property, and we can proceed with it, we will ask you to isolate yourself from the area of repair for as long as possible before the repair takes place. We may ask you to undertake other measures, but these will be discussed with you before we arrive.

I have a service booked (gas, electrical, fire safety) but I do not want your Maintenance Technician in my home in case they have Coronavirus. What should I do?2020-05-03T19:30:22+00:00

We recognise that you may be frightened to let contractors into your home, but it is important that we keep you safe through boiler servicing etc.

We still need access to your home to complete this service, but we are putting extra safeguards in place to protect you and our contractors.

For ‘emergency’ or ‘regulatory compliance’ work, we will contact you ahead of the visit and complete an assessment over the phone of work to be undertaken, to minimise the length of the visit. Our Maintenance Technicians will have all the necessary Personal Protective Equipment needed and will continue to regularly wash their hands and use hand sanitiser. They will clean all surfaces they touch, before leaving your property.

When they are on site, you must remain in another room with the door closed and not enter the work area while the Maintenance Technician is in the property.  If you are concerned about any aspect of this, please contact us and we can discuss individual measures we can put in place to reassure you.

I am in the process of having update work carried out in my home such as a new kitchen/bathroom or rewire. Will work stop?2020-05-03T19:30:58+00:00

Yes. Unfortunately, all non-emergency work must stop until further notice. We will do everything we can to ensure that you have a functional kitchen/bathroom in the meantime. Once we return to business as usual, we will contact you to arrange the completion of the works to your home.

Are you still going to maintain the grounds around our scheme?2020-05-03T19:31:33+00:00

We are resuming grounds maintenance activities but as a much reduced service will only carry out grass cutting and litter picking

Will I get a rent payment holiday?2020-05-03T19:32:07+00:00

Rent is vitally important to not-for-profit organisations like Ark Housing.  It allows us to carry out essential repairs and maintenance work and deliver support services to the people who live in the homes we provide. You need to continue to pay your rent in full.

Where your circumstances change due to the Covid-19 virus, you must let us know as soon as you can. We will look compassionately at each case to find a solution.

if you are experiencing financial hardship through loss of employment, or a reduction in your working hours as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, or if you have been asked to self-isolate and cannot make payments in the usual way, please contact your Housing Officer on 028 90 752310 for advice and assistance. We will work with you to ensure that your tenancy is not affected as a result of delayed rental payments, and we will treat all such instances sensitively.

My income is not affected. Can I still pay my rent in the normal way?2020-05-03T19:32:40+00:00

Yes. All normal rent payment options remain available, including the option to pay over the phone. We would of course encourage you to pay online or to set up automated payment (e.g. direct debit) to reduce demand on phone lines and save yourself time. Check our website for details of ways you can pay your rent: https://www.arkhousing.co.uk/rent-and-rates/

What help is available financially for people who have been laid off, have no money coming in or are on a reduced income?2020-05-03T19:33:27+00:00

If your income is affected by the COVID-19 virus, you may be able to claim Sick Pay or benefits to support you through this period. Your income may be affected due to working less, no longer working, self-isolating, or caring for someone who is sick.

Many employees will be protected during this period as the Government has offered a package of support to businesses to help them to retain staff.

The Government is offering PAYE employees grants to cover 80% of employees’ wages (up to £2,500/month per employee) for up to 12 weeks.

This support is called the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. It means that you can still get 80% of your pay if there is no work. Your employer should contact HMRC for further details.

Government has also announced a Self-Employed Income Support Scheme. Many of our tenants are self-employed such as taxi drivers, plumbers and builders. This scheme will pay those adversely affected by Covid-19, a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month, from June. Self-employed people can also now access benefits such as Universal Credit.

If you need money or benefits advice please contact your Housing Officer on 028 90752310. You can get the most up-to-date information on the Department for Communities website: https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/landing-pages/covid-19-and-benefits

Will you evict people who cannot pay their rent?2020-05-03T19:34:30+00:00

Where people’s circumstances change due to Covid-19, we will look compassionately at each case. Eviction will never be our first resort – every opportunity will be explored before eviction is considered as an option.

This is an uncertain time and we understand that some people are experiencing financial hardship due to Coronavirus.

If your income is affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19) you may be able to claim Sick Pay or benefits to support you through this period. You can get the most up-to-date information on the Department for Communities website here: https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/landing-pages/covid-19-and-benefits

If you are worried about paying your rent, please contact us and speak to your Housing Officer on 028 90 752310.

I need to terminate my tenancy. Can I still do this?2020-05-03T19:35:15+00:00

Yes. However, we will manage this process differently. You should still get in touch with us to give us at least 4 weeks’ notice, as normal.

Is Ark Housing still organising events and activities?2020-05-03T19:36:02+00:00

In line with Government advice, all events and activities have been cancelled until further notice.

I live in an apartment block. Will cleaning services continue?2020-05-03T19:36:42+00:00

Yes. Where your scheme has a cleaning service for communal areas, provided by Ark Housing, this will continue (as much as possible). Both you and staff will be expected to adhere to physical distancing restrictions, for the safety of staff and tenants alike.

What support are you offering to people who are over 70 and other vulnerable tenants?2020-05-03T19:37:20+00:00

Ark Housing provides a range of accommodation specifically to older and vulnerable people where we provide additional support. Of course, we also have older and vulnerable people living in our general housing.

Older and vulnerable people living in our general needs housing who do not have family or friends to help at this time and who are concerned, can also contact us and we will try to help by signposting them to appropriate services.

We would especially ask you to let us know if you have been contacted by your GP to enter ‘shielding’ for 12 weeks, if you do not have family and friends who can help. We will try to help you to find the help you need.

Can I still report Anti-Social Behaviour?2020-05-03T19:38:02+00:00

Yes, you can still report Anti-Social Behaviour to your Housing Officer either by telephone (028 90 752310), by email (info@arkhousing.co.uk) or via our website (www.arkhousing.co.uk).  The Housing Officer will investigate the report but will be unable to undertake any home visits.  Further information and advice will be provided by the Housing Officer.

Is Ark Housing still allocating properties?2020-05-03T19:38:36+00:00

Yes, Ark Housing is continuing to allocate properties. This will be done whilst ensuring the government guidelines are met in relation to social distancing.  Unfortunately, we are unable to provide viewings currently.

Can I apply for a transfer?2020-05-03T19:39:17+00:00

Yes, you can contact your Housing Officer who will advise you of the process.