Coronavirus - customer information

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, our top priority is the safety and wellbeing of our customers, staff and communities.


We made changes to some of our services in response to the coronavirus outbreak. We are now starting to resume some of these services, following the government’s advice at all times.  

For the latest information on our services and what we are doing to provide support and reassurance during the pandemic, check out our Frequently Asked Questions below.


Repairs update

Non-emergency repairs were put on hold at the start of the lockdown and demand for our repairs service is currently high, so please bear with us as we work to clear the backlog of jobs. 

In line with government advice, we are now carrying out non-emergency repairs again – giving priority to lower-risk jobs in order to protect customers and staff. To start with, we are dealing with jobs that only require one operative and can be completed within two hours, as they can be carried out more safely. 

If you are waiting for a repair, we will confirm an appointment as soon as we can, within three months at most.

 

Advice for residents

The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has written to all social housing residents to provide advice on what they can expect from landlords. You can read the letter here.

For the latest government advice to the public on coronavirus, click here

There has also been an increase in reported scams during the coronavirus pandemic, so please be cautious if you receive phone calls or emails from anyone you don't know. For more information on fraud and cyber crime, you can visit the Action Fraud website here or download the Met Police's Little Book Of Scams here.


Last updated: 20/5/20 13:11

What is Watford Community Housing doing to protect customers?
Our top priority is protecting our customers, as well as our staff and communities. We implemented new operating procedures to reduce face-to-face contact and cut the risk of infection, and we are continuing to follow the latest government guidance at all times. As part of this, most of our staff are currently working remotely.

To protect customers and staff, we made changes to some of our services at the start of the lockdown, including limiting repairs to emergencies that posed a risk to the health and safety of customers. In line with the latest guidance, we are now starting to carry out some of the work that was placed on hold – giving priority to jobs that we can carry out most safely.
How should I get in touch?
As we are experiencing high call volumes at the moment, you will probably have to wait for longer if you call us. We will be able to respond more quickly if you contact us by email on enquiries@wcht.org.uk or use our online services by clicking here.

You can use your online account to report any repairs that are needed, manage your tenancy, pay your rent, report anti-social behaviour, give us feedback and message us directly.
Is the office open for visitors?
Our office on Clarendon Road is currently closed to visitors and no new appointments are being made. For all general enquiries, you can email enquiries@wcht.org.uk or call 0800 218 2247.
I am due to move into my new home, but understand that the offices are closed. Am I still able to get the keys for my new home and move in?
Our lettings service is running – we are carrying out a risk assessment on each move to make sure we can keep customers and staff safe.

In line with the government’s guidance, we are not letting any independent living homes at the moment. We will resume our normal lettings service for independent living as soon as we can.
How should I report an emergency?
If you have a problem that is a risk to your health, safety, or security, please call us on 0800 218 2247 as usual.
I have a gas safety appointment scheduled – will this still happen?
All gas servicing and safety checks are continuing as usual, in line with advice from the government, Gas Safe and the Regulator of Social Housing. Please bear in mind that annual gas inspections are a legal requirement to ensure that your home remains safe, so if you have one booked you will still need to give us access, in line with your tenancy agreement.
 
I need to cancel a repair as I am self-isolating – how can I do this?

You can cancel your repair using one of these methods:

  • Log in to your online account to cancel or rearrange (you can register for a new account if you don't have one yet): https://myaccount.wcht.org.uk/WCH/www/dashboard
  • Email repairs@wcht.org.uk and give details of the appointment you would like to cancel.
  • Call us on 0800 218 2247. We are sorry if you have to wait longer than usual to get through.
I am self-isolating, but need an emergency repair carried out – what should I do?
If you are self-isolating and have an emergency repair, we will attend but we require your help to minimise the risk to our operative. Please tell us that you are self-isolating when you contact us to book your repair. We will then advise you of the procedure that you will need to follow when we attend.
Are non-emergency repairs being carried out at the moment?

Non-emergency repairs were put on hold at the start of the lockdown and demand for our repairs service is currently high, so please bear with us as we work to clear the backlog of jobs.

In line with government advice, we are now carrying out non-emergency repairs again – giving priority to lower-risk jobs in order to protect customers and staff. To start with, we are dealing with jobs that only require one operative and can be completed within two hours, as they can be carried out more safely.

If you are waiting for a repair, we will confirm an appointment as soon as we can, within three months at most.

If you need to request a new repair, the quickest and easiest way to report a problem is through our website. You can still get in touch on 0800 218 2247 – but it may take longer than usual for us to answer – or by email on repairs@wcht.org.uk

Are planned works (such as electrical testing and the installation of windows and doors) going ahead as usual?
In line with the initial government advice, all planned works programmes were put on hold in March. Since then, we have been working closely with our contractors and health & safety professionals to ensure that we can work safely.

Starting in June, we are reinstating some works where they can be completed safely and with the required social distancing. These include external works such as roofing and decoration, as well as internal works such as fire doors and electrical safety work that is essential for keeping our customers' homes safe.

If any of these works are planned in or around your home, we will give you at least two weeks' notice before the contractors are due on site. 

 
Are you undertaking a robust cleaning regime?
Yes, we have a detailed cleaning plan and we can track its progress and delivery online. We are working with our contractor, Accuro, to undertake additional cleaning works at any high-risk sites. The chemicals used are also the correct type to combat the spread of infection.
 
However, hand-washing remains the most important thing that can be done to combat the virus, so we are providing additional hand-cleaning products to staff and in the communal areas of shared blocks.    
 
Can friends and relatives visit older residents?
In line with the government’s advice to people aged 70 and over, we are asking people to avoid visiting older residents unless it is absolutely essential. This applies to all residents, not just those in our Independent Living schemes.

Although we fully understand that people are concerned for the wellbeing of friends and family during this difficult time, the government is advising that social distancing is the best way to help protect people in more vulnerable age groups.

Please do not meet with relatives, either in their homes or in communal spaces or gardens. Although it may be tempting, it is against current advice and increases the infection risk for residents, some of whom are shielding.

We are not making this request lightly and we know it will be difficult for some people who may feel isolated. Contact and interaction between friends and relatives will be more important than ever during this period of social distancing, so we would encourage you to find alternative ways to keep in touch with loved ones without having to visit in person – such as phone or video calls, instant/text messaging and emails.

We also recognise that many visits to older residents are genuinely vital and, as long as government advice allows for such visits, we will continue to support these.  

Please remember – by not visiting, you are helping to protect your friends and relatives, as well as our staff and yourselves.
What support are we offering for people who are over 70?
We are still supporting customers living in our Independent Living schemes who request daily calls. We have also been making welfare calls to other residents aged over 70 who live in general needs accommodation, with priority given to the most vulnerable groups.
 
We are referring anyone who does not have a support network to our colleagues in social care and for general support being offered by local councils, so that appropriate support for medical needs, shopping and welfare needs can be provided. If you are feeling isolated and would like us to make regular contact with you during this period, please contact us by emailing enquiries@wcht.org.uk – we will refer you to other services that may be able to help.
 
Are independent living scheme lounges still open?
No, following the government guidance on social distancing we have restricted access to lounges in order to protect those living there. 
How can I pay my rent?

There are lots of different ways to pay your rent.

Direct debit
This is the easiest way to make sure your rent is paid on time. You can complete this form and return it to us, or email us on enquiries@wcht.org.uk

Standing order
Set up a standing order with your bank using these details.

Payment to: Watford Community Housing Trust
Account No: 33164985
Sort code: 20-00-00

You will also need to supply your tenancy reference number, which you will find on any correspondence from our Rents team. If you do not know your number, you can email us on enquiries@wcht.org.uk with your details and we will send you your tenancy number.

Through your online account
Click here to log in to your online account (or register for a new account).


Call Allpay
You can call Allpay on 0330 041 6497 (you will need the 19-digit number from your rent card).

Pay on Allpay's website
Visit Allpay's website here.

Get the Allpay app
Download the Allpay app and follow the instructions.
What if I have difficulties paying my rent because my income has been affected?
We understand that the coronavirus outbreak is affecting lots of people in different ways – and we are here to help you, so please don’t suffer in silence. Please email us at TSupport@wcht.org.uk and we will offer you help and advice, including making sure you are receiving any benefits you are entitled to, so that you can continue to make payments.

You may want to visit the ‘Entitled to' website for further information and advice on financial support.

If you are struggling, you may also qualify for additional help with your general household bills:

Council tax

Measures are in place to help with council tax during this difficult time. The government has made a hardship payment of up to £150 available as a further discount to all those of working age already in receipt of council tax support.

You should now be receiving the credit, so contact your local council if you are not receiving it but believe you should be. For tax payers of working age whose council tax account has a balance of less than £150 for the year after council tax support, their balance will be reduced to zero.
 
All other council tax bills will be payable as normal, although we would urge anybody in financial hardship to contact their local authority.​

Household utilities
Household utility companies are offering their customers more flexibility to make payments and those in support of benefits and Universal Credit are entitled to lower tariffs.

Affinity Water has a range of ways to help – they can be found here.

You can also contact your utility suppliers directly and you should be able to find information about ways to pay in emails from your supplier and on the back of account statements. If you require any help applying for reduced tariffs please contact our Tenancy Support team at TSupport@wcht.org.uk.
 
When will I receive my rent statement?
We normally send rent statements out in May or June, but this year we have delayed them slightly.  
 
We know that some customers have been impacted by the coronavirus crisis and we want to avoid causing unnecessary anxiety. We are aware that some people will have applied for welfare benefits or may be awaiting furlough payments, so we hope that this extra time gives people the chance to get back to their usual payment patterns before we send them their rent statement.
 
We are currently planning to send rent statements in July.

Don't forget you can check your rent balance at any time through your online account – click here to log in or sign up for an account now.
 
Are estate inspections going ahead?
Watford Community Housing staff will be carrying out estate inspections to make sure your neighbourhood continues to be cared for. However, to minimise the risk of infection estate inspections will only be attended by our dedicated team for the time being.
 
I receive the assisted gardening service – is this still going ahead?
Yes, we are still continuing with the assisted gardening programme. You should have received a letter to let you know when you can expect our contractor, Accuro, to attend your property throughout the rest of the growing season.
 
If you are self-isolating and would prefer us not to attend the property, please just let us know.
Are there any other organisations that can provide help, support and guidance?
You can contact HertsHelp – a network of community organisations in Hertfordshire working together. They are here to listen and help you find independent support, guidance and information to get the most out of life. You can call 0300 123 4044 or email info@hertshelp.net

More information about support services can also be found at www.hertshelp.net.

Watford Borough Council has launched a website that allows people to sign up and ask for additional help – you can find it here. Support is offered by W3RT (Watford & Three Rivers Trust), which matches applicants to volunteers who can provide appropriate help.

Watford Borough Council has also published guidance on the coronavirus pandemic – you can download the leaflet here

Here are some other organisations who may be able to offer help and support:

The Ollie Foundation – mental health and suicide support

Sign Health – support for people who are deaf or have hearing impairments