Coronavirus information

Please note - this page has been updated 20 May 2020 following recent guidance from the government.

We have made some changes to the options you will hear when you call us on 0300 1234 161.

If you want to speak with a member of our customer service team, you will be able to choose from the following 3 options:

  • Automated service to make a rent payment, please press 2
  • For repairs and maintenance, please press 3
  • For all other Housing enquires please press 4

Please be aware that we have some restrictions to our service in line with current government guidelines but we will try to help you. Our opening hours are 9am-5pm Monday to Friday excluding Bank Holidays.

You can also contact us by emailing us on info@cornwallhousing.org.uk

We are aware that many of you may have questions about how your tenancy is affected by changes to our housing service in response to coronavirus. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

First of all, we want you to know that your safety, security and wellbeing is of the utmost importance to us.

From 1 June we will be gradually re-introducing our services in stages while we carefully follow Government guidance. Our Health and Safety team has been updating our Risk Assessments and Safe Working Procedures so that we keep our residents and our employees safe.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has issued a letter to all Social Housing tenants regarding works starting again. You can read the letter via the following link: Letter from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

Throughout the response to coronavirus, our vital services have been and will continue to be in place for you:

  • Help if you are currently or at risk of being homeless – contact the Prevention and Engagement team
  • Help if you are worried about paying rent - contact your Rent Management Officer
  • Urgent property repairs – call 0300 1234 161 option 3 to report any urgent repairs
  • Gas and other servicing – we’ll continue to service your boiler
  • Looking after our supported housing residents

You can continue to call 0300 1234 161 for all these services.

From 1 June, you may see our teams working in some communal areas. Our teams are fully equipped to make sure that both they and you are protected when they visit your home. We ask that you please keep a suitable distance to allow them to work safely.

If you have an appointment for one of our team to come to your home, and you are self-isolating or shielding, please contact us right away so we can discuss options. Our workers will be following the Government guidance carefully and will not enter your home if you are shielding unless it is an emergency.

Our teams are continuing to make welfare calls to tenants. We are calling to check that you are well, have access to the support you need during these challenging times and are coping with self-isolation. We will always give you our name and, if you need to, you can check the identification of a Cornwall Housing employee by calling our Customer Service Centre on 0300 1234 161.

Questions and answers

Repairs and maintenance

When will a repair be made to my home?

We will continue to prioritise urgent and emergency work in your home. If your repair is not urgent you may still have to wait until the restrictions are eased further before we can complete the work. We will keep you updated as our services continue to adapt to follow Government guidelines.

What are urgent and emergency repairs?

We ask you to remember that we only consider an emergency or urgent works to be:

  • A serious threat to your health and safety, such as a gas leak or dangerous electrical fault;
  • Major damage to the structure of the building;
  • A security problem (not including lost keys) for doors, garages and windows;
  • Total prolonged loss of essential service, such as gas, water or electricity that results in a serious impact to immediate health or safety of house occupants;
  • An uncontainable water leak;
  • A fault with communal lighting;
  • No heating or hot water (three day priority May-October);
  • A cooker switch fault;
  • A fault with an electric shower and no bath in the property;
  • Blocked drains; or
  • You are homeless tonight due to not having suitable accommodation available for your occupation.

You can find more information on the out of hours emergencies page.

We will help you through the process of dealing with an emergency and call an operative to assist where applicable.

If an operative is sent to your house to deal with an emergency repair:

  • You will need to open the door and then go into a different room before the operative enters. The operative will wipe down the front door if they have to touch it;
  • They will use protective equipment, clean the area they are working in before and after, and your household will need to remain in a different room for the entirety of the appointment; and
  • They will make the situation safe, and we will contact you about any follow-up work if required.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

What about our bathroom/kitchen/window upgrade?

From 1 June 2020 we will gradually introduce our planned improvement works including replacing kitchens, bathrooms and windows.

As with other works resuming, we have procedures in place to keep you and our teams safe while all work is being undertaken.

Our surveyors will soon contact you to arrange inspections and programming of work. Any planned work that was due throughout the suspended period will be rescheduled.

Speaking to our teams

Can I come to meet one of the Cornwall Housing team in the office?

A large number of our teams are still working from home and therefore our services are being delivered in a very different way. We ask that you do not visit our offices as most, under guidance from the Grovernment, will remain closed for the immediate future.

Therefore, we are not able to hold face-to-face visits or appointments with you at the moment.

Please continue to contact us for any of the vital services listed above on 0300 1234 161.

If we do have to come into your home, we ask that you please keep a suitable and safe distance from our employees while they carry out their work (see guidelines above).

Communal services

When will communal cleaning in flats and grounds maintenance resume?

Grounds maintenance and cleaning of communal areas has continued in some areas throughout the restrictions. From 1 June we will also recommence the following work:

  • Roofing replacements;
  • Paint and repair contracts;
  • Facia board replacement and rainwater goods;
  • External wall insulation;
  • External structural wall works;
  • Communal area works (for example door entry systems, decs, flooring, electrics);
  • Ground maintenance;
  • Tree cutting; and
  • External adaptations.

All work will be completed following social distancing guidelines. The safety and wellbeing of our teams and our communities is our top priority.

Will my service charge be refunded due to lack of service, e.g. communal cleaning in flats?

The service charges will be addressed once we return to business as usual. 

My neighbours are gathering when they should be social distancing, what will Cornwall Housing do about it?

It is not our role to police tenants who are having visitors to their home. Because the risk is so high to elderly people, we have taken the decision for the safety of our residents to close communal lounges in some of our accommodation.

Homechoice

When will I be able to bid on a property using Homechoice?

The Homechoice system will re-open the bidding cycle on Thursday 4 June 2020.

If you have already accepted an offer from a previous bid but weren’t able to move in recent weeks due to restrictions, please contact your Housing Officer to make arrangements for after 4 June 2020.

If you have an enquiry about your application or how to bid the team will be able to help you from 4 June 2020 onwards.

Please note that libraries and other facilities with public access to WiFi remain closed, so you will not be able to use these facilities to access the Homechoice system.

Can I move home during the current restrictions?

There are still limitations on how you can move home, guidance from the Government can be found here: moving home guidance from the Government.

If you were scheduled to move house but it was put on hold due to recent changes to our services,  we will contact you after 1 June 2020 to make arrangements. As with all our work, we will make sure that your move is done safely and following the latest guidelines from the Government.

Paying rent

How do I pay my rent now, I normally pay cash in a shop using my allpay card?

Payments can be made by calling the automated payment line on 0300 1234 200 - option 7, as well as online. You can also call your bank and arrange for a standing order payment.

I can’t pay rent due to losing my job/ loss of self-employed work, what help can I get?

We are here to help, please contact one of our Rent Management officers or inclusion advisors for further help. Tenants that are now out of work will need to apply for Universal Credit as fast as possible. The Government have offered to help those that are not being paid a salary or had their hours cut. You can find more information about this on the Gov.uk website.

How do I apply for Universal Credit?

Universal Credit (UC) replaces income related benefits such as:

  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support,
  • Housing Benefit
  • Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit

To apply for Universal Credit:

  • Sign up and create an account on the Gov.uk website
  • You will need make an initial appointment which will be over the phone due to the current lockdown situation. If you cannot get through on the phone then write a note on your journal in your Universal Credit account with your contact number advising that you need to make this appointment
  • The first payment of UC will not be for 5 weeks, however you should be offered an advance which can be organised after your initial appointment. This is paid back monthly from your ongoing Universal Credit award
  • If you have been receiving Tax Credits whilst working, then your Tax Credits will stop as UC replaces tax credits 
  • As Universal Credit also replaces Housing Benefit, any help with your housing costs is paid to you as part of the monthly award and you need to pay your landlord. Speak to your Rent Management Officer if you have any questions
  • Council Tax support needs to be claimed separately to Universal Credit. You can make a claim on the Council's Council Tax Support pages.  If you have difficulties online, then you can ring 0300 1234 121

If you have any questions, then your Universal Credit work coaches are there to help. You can message them on your online journals, or if you ring from the telephone number on your claim then you should get through to the local UC Service Centre. Alternatively, for general information you can contact your Cornwall Housing Inclusion Advisor. The Inclusion Advisors do try and make contact with all tenants who make a Universal Credit claim. 

I’m on a court order what should I do?

You should continue paying your rent and any arrears as outlined within your court order. If you are struggling, please contact your Rent Management officer or an inclusion advisor.

The government said that we do not have to pay rent for three months?

You still need to continue paying your rent. We are here to help if you get stuck.

What can I do if I have made a claim for Universal Credit and can’t get through on the phones to book an appointment?

Write a note on your journal saying you have not managed to get through on the phone requesting to book your initial appointment and include your telephone number.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.