30 April, 2020
On Monday 27th April 2020, the government introduced new, non-statutory guidance advising Registered Housing Providers to only proceed with rehousing their customers (existing and new) if the move is deemed to be "essential" during the coronavirus pandemic.
As with so many other aspects of housing management during these unprecedented times, this guidance will undoubtedly impact upon business planning and financial modelling for organisations as a result of void losses over unconfirmed timeframes. Measures will also need to be put in place to protect empty properties from the risk of vandalism, arson and criminal damage in neighbourhoods which are categorised as "ASB hotspots".
Furthermore, housing practitioners will be faced with the challenge of managing customer expectations, particularly those who have endured a long and difficult journey to finally obtain their own home. Whilst it is currently impossible to offer customers a "move in date", it is vital that they are kept fully updated every step of the way via their preferred method of communication. This includes key messages on the respective organisation's website.
The following circumstances are categorised as being essential by the government:
Registered Housing Providers should avoid moving customers who are self-isolating, either because they are symptomatic or someone in their household is symptomatic for the duration of the isolation unless there are clear safety reasons.
Each case will need to be assessed on an individual basis and consistently monitored. In the event that void works are authorised, maintenance operatives must be issued with the necessary PPE and be able to conform to safe distancing requirements in order to protect themselves, their colleagues and neighbouring residents in the immediate locality. It is also recommended to actively engage with any external contractors, sub-contractors and suppliers to ensure their wellbeing and provide regular updates.
For more information contact Darren Burton in our Housing & Regeneration department via email or phone on 01257 240827. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.