Frequently asked questions relating to COVID-19

Dear Residents,

We hope many of your questions will be answered here, but please note, whilst the majority of our staff are working from home, we are still committed to providing a great, albeit slightly reduced, service during these challenging times. We are constantly monitoring advice from the Government and Public Health England and continue to adjust our service and operations accordingly. You can still reach us through all the regular channels, and we remain focused on doing everything we can to ensure the wellbeing of our customers and colleagues. Below are some FAQs that prospective and existing Residents may find useful.

We wish you all well during these unprecedented times.

Please take care,

Tracey Hartley
Director of Residential

I'm renting from you now

Is your Service Desk still operating during the lock down period?

Yes it is – please continue to use the Service Desk number +44 (0)20 7290 0963, and the regular contact numbers for your residential manager.

What types of repairs are you responding to at the moment?

We are dealing only with works which may otherwise pose a significant risk to your health and safety. Urgent health and safety issues are those which will affect your ability to live safely and maintain your mental and physical health in your home. This could include (but is not limited to):

  • If there is a problem with the fabric of your building, for example the roof is leaking
  • If your boiler is broken, leaving you without heating or hot water
  • If there is a plumbing issue, meaning you don’t have washing or toilet facilities
  • If your white goods such as fridge or washing machine have broken, meaning you are unable to store food safely or to wash clothes
  • If there is a security-critical problem, such as a broken window or external door 
  • If equipment that a disabled person relies on requires installation or repair 

This is because we have limited resources on site and to minimise the risk of spreading COVID19.  For example, repairs to dishwashers, TV aerials and tumble dryers will be held back until the restrictions are relaxed.

Should I still advise you of non-essential repairs needed in my home?

Yes please.  Whilst non-essential work and repairs will not be carried out during this time, we request that any issues should still be reported by telephone or e-mail so a record can be kept. As and when restrictions are lifted, we will schedule these works.

Must I allow your authorised contractors into my property to conduct gas safety checks and other statutory checks?

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance to Landlords & Tenants reinforces the requirement that we make every effort to carry out all scheduled safety inspections and tests.

Relevant regulations and industry standards also require us as ‘Duty Holder’ to maintain gas and electrical installations in a safe and compliant manner. The relevant certification would have been provided at the beginning of your tenancy, however gas systems require an annual certification, and fixed electrical systems must also be recertified.

Are your suppliers taking necessary COVID-19 precautions?

Our subcontractors continue to operate in accordance with the latest Public Health England and Government advice on travel, social distancing, hand hygiene, etc. They operate in a pragmatic way and follow a strict safe system of work. You may of course retire to another room prior to their entrance into your property. If you would like to do this, please give us prior notice so we can inform the contractor.
During this time, all sub-contractors will proceed with caution, and ensure that:

  • Their hands are sanitised upon entry and exit to property & personal hygiene (avoid touching face, hair, eyes etc) is strictly controlled
  • Gloves (disposable preferred) are worn if practicable (i.e. if technical work can still be completed), and other necessary Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) will be used
  • They only bring in equipment / tools that are required for the specific job
  • They maintain at least 2 metres (distance) from the tenant
  • They complete the task, wipe down equipment, return to vehicle, and sanitise hands

What if I have an emergency repair whilst I am self-isolating, can I refuse access?

Should an emergency repair be required but you are self-isolating, we will assess the way forward on a case by case basis.

Should I tell you if I am self-isolating because of coronavirus if I require an emergency repair?

If you are self-isolating, please ensure you advise us by telephone or e-mail.

Should you still be cleaning the common parts of buildings that I share with other residents?

Where we are responsible for cleaning communal areas, we will continue to clean them. Whilst cleaners will be following Government guidance, if you and/or fellow residents feel uncomfortable with this arrangement, please call or email your Residential Manager for assistance. 

I have been away from my property for weeks – is there anything I need to do on return?

If you have been away from your accommodation for more than a week then it is advisable that you carry out the following actions:

  • Switch on hot water heaters (if turned off) and leave the water to reach the ‘hot’ setting
  • Flush all of your taps (and toilet/s) for a minimum of 5 minutes – be careful not to scold yourself, and please ensure that children/pets are kept away from the area being flushed
  • Run white goods (dish washer, washing machine) on a high temperature, prior to first use
  • Clean any dehumidifiers / portable air conditioning units in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions

What do I do if I can’t afford my rent?

Please contact us as early as possible.  We understand that some residents will be facing significant challenges and we will try to seek a suitable solution best fitting the circumstances in each case.

Can I help any of my neighbours out?

If you are feeling well and would like to volunteer in the community to help others, we recommend you register your availability through the Westminster City Council’s website: https://www.westminster.gov.uk/coronavirus-how-you-can-help

What do I do if I need help getting food or medicine?

If you need help, or know of someone who does, please contact the council on 020 7641 1222 (8am to 10pm, 7 days a week). You can find more information here:   https://www.westminster.gov.uk/coronavirus-advice-vulnerable-residents

What local restaurants and shops are still open?

For the most up to date information on what stores and restaurants are currently open, please check our Marylebone Village website, and follow us on social media.

Moving in/out

If I have had an offer for one of your properties agreed, do I need to cancel it?

The Government has confirmed that there is no need to pull out of deals. Instead, we will be postponing the start date of the tenancy until after the current social distancing and self-isolation rules are lifted.

What if I can’t delay the start date?

The Government has said that if moving is unavoidable, people can proceed but must follow social distancing guidelines.

What about virtual viewings? Can they still take place?

Absolutely. There are no restrictions on marketing properties and a number of our properties have virtual tours available.

What if this leads to an offer?

There are no restrictions on accepting offers although the Government warns the process is likely to take longer than normal.

My tenancy is due to end, can I extend my tenancy until lockdown is over?

Yes, of course – we will keep your tenancy going on the existing terms until the restrictions are lifted.

Can I cancel my tenancy altogether instead of postponing?

If documents have already been signed, then both parties normally remain legally bound and cancellations are not allowed. However, considering the exceptional circumstances we find ourselves in, we will consider requests based on individual circumstances.

My tenancy has started but I am in lockdown abroad – can I get a rent reduction?

The full rent remains payable, but we will consider cases of hardship on an individual basis.