Coronavirus - customer information

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


A new national lockdown was announced on 4th January 2021 – please stay at home as much as possible. For the latest government advice on coronavirus in your area, click here

We are continuing to provide services with safety measures in place, in line with the government's guidance. However, we are temporarily limiting some services in order to keep you and your community as safe as possible. 

Following the announcement on Monday 22 February of the government's four-step plan to end coronavirus restrictions, we will begin to reintroduce the services we have limited from Monday 8 March – this includes carrying out non-urgent repairs again.  

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.

Our offices are currently closed to visitors, but we are here if you need us. Click here to find out how you can get in touch.


Last updated: 24/2/21 14:15

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, some of our staff are currently working remotely, while staff working in customers’ homes and neighbourhoods are following strict protocols and using appropriate personal protective equipment.

We are continuing to monitor the government guidance closely and adjust our services in line with this.
How should I get in touch?
As we are experiencing high call volumes at the moment, you will probably have to wait 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.
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.
Are repairs still being completed?

In line with the government advice, we are still carrying out all emergency and essential repairs, taking all the safety measures required to protect people. We are asking customers to stay in a different room where possible while repairs are being carried out – please note that our operative may not complete the repair if you do not comply with this. 

To protect customers and our operatives, we took the decision to suspend non-essential repairs during the national lockdown announced on 4 January 2021. Please do not try to request non-essential works during this time – we will let you know when we are able to start carrying out these jobs again.

In line with step one of the government's roadmap to end lockdown, we will start carrying out non-urgent repairs again from Monday 8 March 2021. If you are waiting for a repair that was reported and booked before the latest national lockdown, we will contact you to arrange an appointment to carry out this work. 

From 8 March, you will be able to request new non-urgent repairs through your online account, by calling our Customer Service team on 0800 218 2247 or by emailing enquiries@wcht.org.uk

If you have reported a repair, you should have received a text message to let you know that we have logged your repair. If you need to confirm or change your appointment you can get in touch with us through your online account or by calling 0800 218 2247. Please note that there is no need to call us again if you have already reported a problem – the best way to monitor the status of your repair is through your online account. 

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 send us a message (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.
Is the office open for visitors?
Our offices are currently closed to visitors.

If you need to speak to a member of the team, we are happy to have conversations by phone or video call, and we are still visiting customers at their homes, so get in touch to find out how we can help. Please remember you can also manage lots of aspects of your tenancy through your online account.

To make an appointment, or 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. Am I still able to get the keys for my new home and move in?
Our lettings service for general needs homes and independent living homes is running – we are carrying out a risk assessment and following strict safety measures for each move to make sure we can keep customers and staff safe.
 
Will I be able to go ahead with my mutual exchange during lockdown?
There are no current government restrictions on moving home and guidance about how you can do this safely can be found here. We will carry out any visits in a Covid-safe manner – as part of this, we will need to carry out electrical checks, which will mean a loss of electricity supply for approximately 4-5 hours.

We have a number of mutual exchanges in progress at present and are still meeting our 42-day target for completion on these applications. However, we are aware that other landlords may have suspended their mutual exchange processes and this may impact your exchange if you are moving into a property with another landlord. If the other participating landlord ceases their side of the process during the lockdown period, the application will need to stop completely and recommence when the other landlord is happy to continue with the exchange. To find out whether you will be impacted we suggest that you contact us directly to discuss the progress of your application.   
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.

If you have had a gas servicing and safety check in the last few months, you may also be contacted by Morgan Lambert, who are now carrying out audits of our gas safety checks to ensure the work is carried out to a high standard.  
Are planned works (such as electrical testing and the installation of windows and doors) going ahead as usual?
We are reviewing all works undertaken as part of our improvement programme to ensure that all work can be carried out safely, so we will get in touch with you if works to your home are scheduled.
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 in heavily used communal areas and at Independent Living schemes. 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.    
 
What support are we offering for people who are over 70?
We are still supporting customers living in our Independent Living schemes and members of our team are now regularly on site again. 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 restrictions in place at independent living schemes?
There are restrictions in place at our independent living schemes, in line with the latest government advice. Our health & safety team has carried out a full risk assessment to ensure that any risks have been considered fully and safety measures are in place to protect residents. A copy of the risk assessment is displayed in the scheme office.

Communal lounges
The current restrictions prevent households from mixing indoors, so lounges and kitchens will remain closed for the time being. There will be some limited access given to those in flexicare (Rutland Lodge and Dale Court) to enable them to take socially distanced meals in the dining area. 

Visitors - Government guidelines 
In line with the restrictions, residents should not have visitors from other households indoors. Only essential visitors are allowed into our independent living schemes – these would include health professionals, the emergency services and people delivering post or shopping.

You may have read that after the 8 March, residents in 'care homes' will be able to have one person regularly visit them as measures begin to loosen across the country. As our independent living schemes are not classed as care homes, this does not apply to our residents. However, we will continue to update our guidance to customers as restrictions lift, ensuring that socially distanced visits from family members can take place in communal gardens during stage 1 of the government's roadmpa out of lockdown, and then indoor visits can resume during stages 2, 3 and 4. 
 
We are also currently working with the on-site care provider, Abbots Care, to understand whether testing and visits for customers at our Flexi-care schemes (Rutland Lodge and Dale Court) can be provided and we will write to customers before 8 March setting out arrangements. If enabled at these sites, visitors will be required to take a coronavirus lateral flow test before entry and personal protective equipment (PPE) must be worn.  

Other restrictions
  • Only one person in the laundry room at a time
  • No congregating in corridors or entrances
  • Social distancing to be observed at all times
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?
You should have received your last rent statement in August. We normally send rent statements out in May, but this year we delayed them slightly in response to the coronavirus crisis. You will receive your next rent statement in early 2021.

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.
 
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

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. You can also see information from Hertfordshire Constabulary on avoiding Test and Trace scams here