Coronavirus – managing council homes and estates

We’re putting plans in place to continue to safely manage the 30,000 homes across the Council’s estates and street properties and fulfil our responsibilities as a landlord.

The measures we’re putting in place will ensure both residents and frontline staff are protected as much as possible during the outbreak, while helping us to prioritise resources to most effectively mitigate against any risk to residents.

These measures – and the changes in services to residents – are likely to change as the situation develops. We will update this page as changes take place. You can subscribe to receive weekly updates by signing up to the estates and homes e-newsletter.

We’re working closely with the NHS and Public Health England to control the risk of coronavirus in Hackney. All Hackney residents should follow the latest general advice on our coronavirus page or by signing up for email updates.

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Protecting vulnerable residents

We’ve contacted all vulnerable residents to ensure they’re getting the help they need – but if you know someone who still needs support, let us know.

If you’ve been feeling low, anxious or stressed during the lockdown and are in need of some to talk to, we can get in touch for a chat. Email getinvolved@hackney.gov.uk or call 020 8356 7825.

In financial difficulty? Talk to us

The coronavirus pandemic has affected many people’s incomes, and we know that some Council residents will find it more difficult to pay their rent or service charges.

We need to continue collecting rent and service charges to ensure we can safely manage homes and protect our residents, which is more vital than ever during the coronavirus crisis. It’s important that those who can pay continue to, so that those who are struggling get priority for help.

However, we will not use hardship caused by the current crisis as the basis to evict any of our tenants and court proceedings will remain suspended. If you are having difficulty making payments, we will always work closely with you to ensure you get all the time and flexibility you need and the financial help you are entitled to.

  • if you are a tenant, find out how to get help paying your rent
  • if you are a leaseholder, contact us to discuss your circumstances and the support available

If you are need additional support, find out if you can get help such as council tax reduction, discretionary housing payments or hardship payments

Repairs and home visits

If you’re a Council resident, you’re now able to make an appointment for any type of repair in your home.

In recent months we have only been undertaking urgent or emergency repairs in residents homes to protect both residents and staff during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

We will continue to follow strict safety measures when undertaking repairs. Repairs operatives will wear suitable PPE, clean any surfaces touched, remove any waste and belongings from the work area at the end of each day, and will not ask you to sign to confirm when a repair is complete.

You will also be asked to take some precautions before and during a repairs visit:

  • ensure that all areas where we need to work are clear and free from clutter – please wipe down the area with a household disinfectant beforehand and keep windows open to allow ventilation
  • allow at least 2 metres distance between yourself and the repair operative at all times, and remain in a separate room while the repair takes place
  • leave doors open to allow access to the the area where work is taking place
  • provide access to handwashing facilities
  • keep pets away from the repair operative
  • do not offer any food or drink

Due to the measures in place to ensure repairs can take place safely and the backlog caused by the recent reduced service, you may need to wait longer than normal for an appointment – thank you for your patience as we begin to get things back to normal.

Annual gas safety inspections and planned electrical tests are also continuing to take place. These are always done by appointment, and operatives will follow the safety measures outlined above.

Maintenance and improvement work

We’re committed to following the government’s guidance for our maintenance and improvement work on estates and in homes, which is vital for ensuring our residents have warm, safe and comfortable places to live and our Council homes are protected for future generations.

In line with the latest guidance, more maintenance and improvement projects will begin to start up again from June 2020, as and when we can be absolutely confident that it is safe to do so.

Where this is the case, we will undertake robust risk assessments and work closely with our contractors to agree clear processes to keep both workers and residents safe. We will liaise directly with residents so that they are aware of any work that affects them and the steps being taken to keep them safe.

We understand the financial difficulty that the coronavirus pandemic has caused some residents. Leaseholders remain obliged to contribute financially to some major works, but we will always endure that individual circumstances are taken into account when issuing Section 20 notices. This will include flexible and long-term payment options and wider financial support and advice.

Managing estates

We’re committed to keeping all of our estates and buildings as clean and hygienic as possible and have in place extensive estate cleaning regimes across all our estates.

Our priority is to frequently clean areas that residents are most likely to come into contact with, such as door handles in communal entrances, communal stair bannisters and lifts. At times, this may require less focus on areas which pose less hygiene risk, such as litter picking in grassed areas.

Fire safety work is continuing as normal in communal areas, and health and safety inspections and fire safety risk assessments are continuing to take place.

Estate facilities

Most ball courts (multi-use games area) on estates are now open. In line with the latest guidance, you can use these:

  • alone or with members of your household
  • with up to 5 people from outside your household, provided you keep 2 metres apart at all times

Play areas on estates will now gradually re-open as and when a full safety inspection and clean is completed. Once open, we will have arrangements in place to clean play areas, but will not be able to sanitise equipment after each use. We will ask parents and guardians to ensure their children follow this guidance to keep themselves and other users safe:

  • do not use equipment if they are clinically vulnerable
  • wait or come back later if a play area is busy
  • use hand sanitiser regularly – as a minimum before and after using equipment
  • avoid touching their face
  • maintain social distancing and consider wearing a face mask
  • wait at a safe distance if equipment is already being used
  • wash hands and change clothes when they get home

Signage outlining this guidance will be put up on play area entrances, and we are asking residents not to use a play area until it is fully assessed, cleaned and reopened.

Some community halls are now reopen for a limited number of uses only. Neighbourhood and local offices remain closed, and you can continue to contact your neighbourhood contact centre on neighbourhood@hackney.gov.uk or 020 8356 3330.

Waste collections

If you are self-isolating because you think you may be suffering from coronavirus, you must:

  • put any personal waste, such as used tissues or used cleaning materials, in a plastic rubbish bag and tie it when full place this plastic bag into a second bin bag and tie it
  • store it safely and away from other people in your home for 72 hours

You must not put this waste out for collection or in communal bins until it has been stored safely for 72 hours. You can then dispose of waste normally. This is to lower the risk of the virus being passed on.

If you are unable to store this waste for 72 hours, or you have no way of taking it to communal bins because you are staying in your home, contact hygieneservicesupport@hackney.gov.uk or call 020 8356 6676. We will supply you with orange clinical waste bags for you to place your bags into so the waste can be collected and sent for appropriate treatment.

Please do not put tissues, face masks, or gloves in your recycling green sacks or communal recycling bins on estates.

If you are self-isolating because you are in a high-risk group and are unable to leave home to put your bins out, please email cleaner.estates@hackney.gov.uk or call 020 8356 2121 and give your full address and telephone number. You will then receive a phone call from an area manager to inform you of disposal instructions.

Topping up your heat meter

If you use a Switch 2 or Sycous heat meter and are unable to top up because you are unwell or self-isolating, please let us know so that we can make sure your heating does not get cut off. We will continue to provide heating for an initial two weeks, which can be paid back at a later date.

Switch 2 users should contact the repairs contact centre to request this.

Sycous users should call the Sycous Support team on 0333 880 3115.

Page updated on: 13 August 2020