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FAQs

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs for areas in lockdown

COVID-19 – Where to find information about local lockdowns +

We recognise that the situation is likely to continue to change both nationally and more locally. If you are currently in a local lockdown please refer to this link: Local restrictions: areas with an outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) for a list of areas with additional local restrictions, including information for residents and workers about what to do and how to manage the outbreak.

Local authorities may also have put in place local restrictions. You can find out more about this on your local authority’s website. Find your local council.

COVID-19 – What should I do if I think I many have the virus? +

You should follow government guidance on self-isolation, which you can find here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance

You should tell anyone you share the property with immediately, so that they can take appropriate action and make informed decisions regarding shared areas and access to the property. If we need to arrange a visit to the property, please also inform us and agree to take sensible precautions. 

COVID-19 - What can I do about rent arrears as a result of Coronavirus? +

Government guidance is for people to continue to pay rent and abide by all other terms of their tenancy agreement to the best of their ability. Rent levels agreed in tenancy agreements remain legally due. 

We appreciate that we are in unprecedented times, and many people have financial concerns.  If you do experience financial problems that could affect your payment of rent, it will be easier for us to provide advice and look for a solution if you contact as at the earliest opportunity.  An early conversation can help us agree a plan if you are struggling to pay your rent or are incurring arrears. Please do not hesitate to contact us as soon as you can.

COVID-19 - Reporting of repairs +

During lockdown in your area, inspectors or maintenance workers can still visit. Please continue to report repairs in the usual way. Our customers and colleagues wellbeing and safety is our priority – and where we need to come into your home we will be following stringent measures. Where a contractor visits your home, we have asked all contractors to:

  • Ask you to wait in another room while the repair is taking place – always observing the government’s advice on social distancing.
  • Wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). 
  • Wash their hands or use hand sanitiser upon arrival and when leaving the property (which they should supply themselves).
  • Wash down any surfaces with antibacterial products that they may have come into contact with when undertaking work (using materials which they have supplied themselves).

It is likely that, during lockdown conditions, it may take longer to resolve repair and maintenance items and, where necessary, we will prioritise urgent items. We would like to assure you however that, if for any reason we are unable to instruct works within normal time scales, all repair items that are raised will still be recorded and responded to as soon as possible but we would ask for your patience as we manage the completion of the most urgent works.  If this is the case, your Property Manager will ensure you are kept up to date as to expected timeframes.  

COVID-19 - Moving in and out during lockdown +

Home moves are still permitted when an area is in local lockdown, but Government have advised as far as possible, for people to delay moving home while measures are in place to fight coronavirus in your area. If you are due to move, we will support you as far as we are able though this time.

If you are about to move home, we would recommend that you check the latest position with any companies that you have made arrangements with directly and that you contact us as soon as possible to update us on your plans.  

Our partners who provide check in and check out services as well as providing information for tenancy deposit administration have modified how they work to reduce the risk from COVID-19. Therefore we will try to complete the administrative tasks associated with all move-ins and outs as quickly as possible, but some of these processes may take longer than normal.

Read Government guidance on moving during the COVID-19 outbreak

COVID-19 - How can I get in touch while my area is in lockdown? +

We would like to assure you that you can get in touch with us in the normal way.  You can contact us by phone as usual, and for maintenance reporting or straightforward queries we recommend that if you have access, you sign-up to our Customer Portal which is a simple way to access information on your tenancy, make one off payments, or report maintenance. 

COVID-19 - Can I stop paying rent during the lockdown in my area? +

We appreciate this continues to be a challenging time.  Customers should continue to pay rent and abide by all other terms of their tenancy agreement to the best of their ability. Rent levels agreed in tenancy agreements remain legally due. The government has a strong package of financial support available, and where you can pay the rent as normal, you should do.

If your circumstances have changed as a result of the coronavirus, please get in touch with us. If you are concerned about your ability to meet your rent payments we will be able to offer advice and may be able to help with a spreading of future payments.

Further information can be found as follows:

Universal Credit 

There is new Government support in place to help those affected by coronavirus. For the next three months there is no longer any requirement to attend an interview at a job centre to start a claim, and all applications will be dealt with online. Information can be found here

Financial Support

You may not have previously claimed benefit or your circumstances may have changed. You can find out what financial support may be available to you on the entitled to free benefit calculator   To find out what you might be able to claim enter your details and you'll receive an estimate of your entitlement to benefits, tax credits and universal credit.

You can also find more information on Government support here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/guidance-and-support-for-employees-during-coronavirus-covid-19

If you do experience financial problems that could affect your payment of rent, it will be easier for us to provide advice and look for a solution if you contact as at the earliest opportunity. Please do not hesitate to contact us as soon as you can.

COVID-19 - Can I be evicted while my area is in lockdown? +

The Coronavirus Act 2020 puts measures in place that says where landlords do need to issue notices seeking possession, the notice period must be for six months. 

At the expiry of the six-month notice, a landlord cannot force a customer to leave their home without a court order. When the notice period expires, a landlord would still need to take court action if the customer was unable to move. 

Government have confirmed that if an area is in a local lockdown that includes a restriction on gathering in homes, evictions will not be enforced by bailiffs.

Read more: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-sets-out-comprehensive-support-for-renters-this-winter

COVID-19 Will you need to access my property to conduct viewings for sale or letting during lockdown? +

We are following government’s latest guidance necessary to help stop the spread of the virus in your area, which you can find here https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

During local lockdowns, we can still conduct viewings, but we will only do so where it is safe, in line with Government guidelines. 

COVID-19 - Our services during the pandemic +

During local lockdowns, we can still conduct viewings, but we will only do so where it is safe, in line with Government guidelines. We will maintain close contact with you if we do need you to provide access, and any visits will only go ahead where all parties are free form Covid-19 symptoms and are not isolating, which will include confirmation on the day of the visit 

If you have any further questions which the FAQs don’t cover, please email info@touchstoneresi.co.uk

Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs

How can I get in touch during the pandemic? +

We would like to assure you that you can get in touch with us in the normal way.  You can contact us by phone as usual, and for maintenance reporting of straightforward queries we recommend that if you have access, you sign-up to our Customer Portal where available, which is a simple way to access information on your tenancy, make one off payments or report maintenance. 

Can I stop paying rent if I have been financially impacted by COVID-19? +

This will be a difficult time for many, and while people are returning to work in most sectors, for some, there has been no change to working arrangements and that this continues to be a challenging time.  

Customers should continue to pay rent and abide by all other terms of their tenancy agreement to the best of their ability. Rent levels agreed in tenancy agreements remain legally due. The government has a strong package of financial support available, and where you can pay the rent as normal, you should do.

If your circumstances have changed as a result of coronavirus, please get in touch with us. If you are concerned about your ability to meet your rent payments we will be able to offer advice and may be able to help with a spreading of future payments.

Further information can be found as follows:

Universal Credit 

There is Government support in place to help those affected by coronavirus. There is currently no requirement to attend an interview at a job centre to start a claim, and all applications will be dealt with online. Information can be found here.

Financial Support

You may not have previously claimed benefit or your circumstances may have changed. You can find out what financial support may be available to you on the entitled to free benefit calculator. To find out what you might be able to claim enter your details and you'll receive an estimate of your entitlement to benefits, tax credits and universal credit.

You can also find more information on Government support here: 

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/guidance-and-support-for-employees-during-coronavirus-covid-19

If you do experience financial problems that could affect your payment of rent, it will be easier for us to provide advice and look for a solution if you contact us at the earliest opportunity.   Please do not hesitate to contact us as soon as you can.

Can I be evicted during the pandemic? +

Government guidance strongly advises landlords not to commence or continue eviction proceedings during this challenging time without a very good reason to do so.   The Coronavirus Act 2020 puts measures in place that says where landlords do need to issue notices seeking possession, the notice period must be for six months, with certain exceptions. 

At the expiry of the six-month notice, a landlord cannot force a customer to leave their home without a court order. When the six-month notice period expires, a landlord would still need to take court action if the customer was unable to move. 

You can read more here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-sets-out-comprehensive-support-for-renters-this-winter

Reporting of repairs +

Please continue to report repairs in the usual way. Our customers and colleagues wellbeing and safety is our priority – and where we need to come into your home we will be following stringent measures. Where a contractor visits your home, we have asked all contractors to:

  • Ask you to wait in another room while the repair is taking place – always observing the government’s advice on social distancing.
  • Wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). 
  • Wash their hands or use hand sanitiser upon arrival and when leaving the property (which they should supply themselves).
  • Wash down any surfaces with antibacterial products that they may have come into contact with when undertaking work (using materials which they have supplied themselves).

We would like to assure you that, if for any reason we are unable to instruct works within normal time scales, all repair items that are raised will still be recorded and responded to as soon as possible but we would ask for your patience as we manage the completion of the most urgent works.  If this is the case, your Property Manager will ensure you are kept up to date as to expected timeframes.  

Our services during the pandemic +

We will continue to operate our services and to maintain ‘business as usual’ as far as we are able. We’ll continue to follow the guidance given by the government and will continue to provide updates to you if the situation changes.  We will do everything we can to provide you with the best service possible.

If you have any further questions which the FAQs don’t cover, please email info@touchstoneresi.co.uk

What should I do if I think I may have the virus? +

You should follow government guidance on self-isolation, which you can find here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance

You should tell anyone you share the property with immediately, so that they can take appropriate action and make informed decisions regarding shared areas and access to the property. If we need to arrange a visit to the property, please also inform us and agree to take sensible precautions. 

What can I do about rent arrears as a result of Coronavirus? +

Government guidance is for people to continue to pay rent and abide by all other terms of their tenancy agreement to the best of their ability. Rent levels agreed in tenancy agreements remain legally due. 

We appreciate that we are in unprecedented times, and many people have financial concerns.  If you do experience financial problems that could affect your payment of rent, it will be easier for us to provide advice and look for a solution if you contact as at the earliest opportunity.  An early conversation can help us agree a plan if you are struggling to pay your rent or are incurring arrears. Please do not hesitate to contact us as soon as you can.

Will you need to access my property to conduct viewings for sale or letting? +

We are following government’s latest guidance necessary to help stop the spread of the virus which you can find here https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus. 

Wherever possible we are trying to conduct business as usual, however, we will only conduct viewings where it is safe to do so, in line with Government guidelines. 

Moving in and out +

Everyone involved in the moving process must continue to follow social distancing to minimise the spread of COVID-19.

Agents can meet with customers in their offices and at properties for viewings, but only where it is safe to do so for all parties and where social distancing can be maintained.  The latest Government advice can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-advice-on-home-moving-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak

If you are vacating your property we may request access to undertake viewings, which will be conducted following government guidelines.

Also, if you were planning to move and now find that you no longer wish to or are unable to do so, please contact us as soon as possible so that we can support you and maintain our records.

If you are about to move home we would recommend that you check the latest position with any companies that you have made arrangements with directly and that you contact us as soon as possible to update us on your plans.  

Our partners who provide check in and check out services as well as providing information for tenancy deposit administration have modified how they work to reduce the risk from COVID-19. Therefore we will try to complete the administrative tasks associated with all move-ins and outs as quickly as possible, but some of these processes may take longer than normal.

Read Government guidance on moving during the COVID-19 outbreak

At Touchstone we know how important your home is to you. We have compiled some frequently asked questions to help guide you through your tenancy with us as smoothly as possible.

Who can stay in the property? +

Only customers and permitted occupiers who are listed on the tenancy can live in the property. ‘Live’ is defined by a guest staying longer than two weeks.

Can I change my energy supplier? +

Yes, however you need to let us know in writing or via email.

Can I decorate my home? +

Usually that’s no problem, you just need written permission from us first – otherwise you might be charged for re-decorating it back to the original state.

Can I install a Sky dish or Virgin TV? +

Please check with us first and we’ll need to authorise it in writing. If you go ahead without asking us, you may have to pay for the dish to be removed etc.

Can I make alterations to my home? +

Very rarely, so please check with us first and we’ll need to authorise it in writing. If you go ahead without asking us, we’ll have to charge you for any works to restore the property to its original state.

How can I pay my rent? +

Rent is generally paid by Standing Order. Contact us if you need any details or have a follow up question that isn’t covered elsewhere in this guide.

My partner or friend wants to move in to the property. What should I do? +

Anyone living at the property needs to be listed on the tenancy agreement and vetted by us. If you’d like to add another person to your tenancy agreement, please contact us. Please also be aware of the administration fees (shown in the fee schedule). Please ensure you have our written approval before any new tenants move in.

What do I do if I want to leave the property temporarily? +

If you need to leave for more than 28 days, please notify us in writing. If you forget, it could have serious insurance consequences and you may be charged for any costs.

Can I have a pet at the property? +

Each property is different so before you go ahead we need to confirm that everything is fine in writing.

Can I change the terms of my tenancy? +

For any queries about your tenancy agreement, please contact us.

Someone has moved out of the property. How do I remove them from the tenancy agreement? +

Please contact us as soon as possible.

Who insures my belongings? +

The building’s insurance does not cover your personal belongings, so please arrange your own contents insurance.

Who do I call in an emergency or if I have maintenance issues? +

In the first instance please call your property manager. If the incident occurs outside of office hours and there is damage that requires urgent attention, please call our Emergency Helpline on 01772 667182.

Who do I report communal issues to? +

Please contact us.

What do I do if I have a complaint? +

Please contact us in the first instance. If we can’t resolve it, you can ask for a copy of our complaints procedure.

Any other questions? +

Please contact us.

How do I find out who supplies my energy? +

Gas: Call the Meter Point Administration Service
Telephone: 0870 608 1524

Electricity: Contact the local electricity distribution company. Then ask for the company's Meter Point Administration Service (MPAS).

North Scotland: 0800 048 3515
Central & Southern Scotland: 0330 1010 300 
North East England & Yorkshire: 0845 070 7172
North West England: 0800 195 4141

Merseyside, Cheshire, North Wales & North Shropshire:  0330 1010 300 
East Midlands & West Midlands: 0800 096 3080
South Wales & South West England: 0800 096 3080

London, South East England & Eastern England: 0845 601 4516
Southern England: 0800 048 3516
Northern Ireland: 03457 643 643

How much is my council tax and what band am I in? +

Please either contact your local authority or, for banding visit www.gov.uk/council-tax-bands

Where can I park? +

If it’s not clear, please contact us.

What do I do if my phone line isn’t connected? +

If you know your supplier, please contact them. If not, call BT on 0800 800 151.

What happens if I can’t pay my rent? +

Rent is due on the date advised in your tenancy agreement. If you think you may have any difficulties paying your rent, please contact us as soon as possible.

Can I advertise my house with Air B&B? +

No, this is against the landlord’s wishes. 

Can people temporarily stay at the property? +

Friends and family are welcome to visit for up to two weeks. If it’s any longer than that then please contact us first.

What do I do when my child reaches 18? +

Once they become an adult, you’ll need to add them to the tenancy agreement. So please contact us to sort it out.

What do I do if I’ve lost my keys? +

Please contact us straightaway. Or if it’s out of office hours, please call our [Emergency Helpline]. If your keys can be linked to you or the property, please also inform the Police. You can check the charge for replacement keys on our fee list.

What if I need to leave before my tenancy expires? +

Your tenancy agreement is for a fixed period, so you need to stay at the property until the expiry date. If you need to vacate before then, unfortunately you’re legally responsible for the rent right up until the expiration date – as well as any re-letting fees.

What should I do if I’ve been burgled? +

Firstly, call the police. They’ll give you a crime reference number which your insurer will need when you contact them. Then call us. If the incident occurs outside of office hours and there is damage that requires urgent attention, please call our Emergency Helpline on 01772 667182.

What do I do about noisy or abusive neighbours? +

If you’re unable to resolve the matter, please contact the following:

  • Excessive noise: your local environmental health department.
  • Abuse or threats: the Police.

Can I arrange maintenance and deduct the costs from rent? +

No. Please refer all maintenance issues to us rather than sorting them out yourself.

Can I buy the property if I like living here? +

This will depend on the landlord, but please contact us.

How do I end my tenancy? +

Please contact us in writing at least a month in advance of the date you want to leave. (This is two month in Scotland).

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