Help and Advice During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Advice to tenants facing rent/financial challenges

If you need any help or advice with your rent account or if you are worried about a change in circumstances due to loss of earnings, please contact us at the office either by phone (01595 694986) or via e-mail (mail@hjaltland.org) .

We can also assist with income maximisation and tenancy sustainment issues.

It is important you keep in touch with us if you are experiencing problems. Please note that the Scottish Government has announced emergency legislation to suspend new evictions from social or private rented accommodation during the coronavirus crisis. Therefore, during the next six months, there will be no evictions to housing association tenants due to financial hardship brought on by COVID-19.

If you are worried about the short-term impact of COVID-19 on your employment then you can contact the PACE (Partnership Action for Continuing Employment) helpline on 0800 917 8000. The government has also announced that it will be providing various forms of financial support depending on your circumstances. This includes a new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and additional changes to Universal Credit and Statutory Sick Pay. Further advice on financial support has also been provided by the following organisations:

• Money Advice Service: https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/coronavirus-what-it-means-for-you

• Citizens Advice Scotland: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/scotland/debt-and-money/if-you-cant-pay-your-bills-because-of-coronavirus/

If you currently pay your rent in cash, we would ask that you consider making alternative arrangements in the meantime e.g. card payments or online payments. We may contact you to discuss this further.

If you are self-isolating or recovering from coronavirus (COVID-19), this will mean you may not be able to leave your home. This can be a problem if you have a pre-payment meter, which requires you to go to the shop to top-up. Different energy suppliers will have their own ways of dealing with this. If you or anyone in your home has any underlying health conditions, you should also contact your energy supplier to let them know. They will add you to the Priority Service Register, which will give you extra support should you need it. If you are self-isolating, you should contact your energy company as soon as you become aware of an issue to do with your prepay meter or are struggling to top-up, as some of the solutions can take a few days. Contact details for the main energy suppliers are as follows:

SSE: https://sse.co.uk/help/coronavirus-questions-and-answers
SSE customer services contact number: 0345 026 2658

Scottish Power: https://community.scottishpower.co.uk/…/Coronav…/ta-p/15029…
Scottish Power customer services contact number: 0800 027 0072

Bulb: https://help.bulb.co.uk/…/360040774891-Coronavirus-advice-f…
Bulb customer services contact number: 0300 303 0635

EDF: https://www.edfenergy.com/coronavirus-advice
EDF customer services contact number: 0333 200 5100

EON: https://www.eonenergy.com/coronavirus-update.html
EON customer services contact number: 0345 303 3040

NPower: https://www.npower.com/help-and-sup…/coronavirus/prepayment/
NPower customer services contact number: 0800 073 3000

If you’re worried about your energy bills or struggling to stay warm at home, then you can also call Home Energy Scotland on 0808 808 2282 for free and impartial advice. Other advice on energy related issues can also be found here: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-covid-19-and-your-energy-supply

Emergency Repairs

Our contractors are continuing to provide emergency repairs services. However, please be aware that this may alter if their staffing levels are reduced due to the continuing spread of the virus. Please contact us on 01595 694986 during office hours or 01595 692387 outwith office hours if you have an emergency repair in your home. Emergency/urgent repairs include:

  • A failure in the mains electrical supply, other than a power cut
  • A dangerous electrical fault
  • A burst water pipe or water tank
  • A blocked drain, if there is serious leakage
  • A blocked or totally unusable WC, if there is only one in the house
  • A property that is insecure, with a broken window or a damaged door, following an event such as a break-in or possibly storm damage

An emergency also arises if someone is locked in or locked out if the person:

  • Is elderly or disabled
  • Has other special needs
  • Is a young child

For all other tenants, being locked out due to a loss of keys is not an emergency and the replacement of keys, will need to wait until our office is open.

When you contact us about your emergency repair we will ask you some questions about your current situation and whether you are self-isolating so that we can understand how best to protect you and your family, as well as the member of staff that attends your home.

Please be patient with us while we ask these questions. These are required to protect the health and wellbeing of you, our staff and our contractors, which is essential in allowing us to maintain services.

If it is deemed essential that a member of staff does attend your home, they will:

• Ask some further questions at the front door before entering the property

• Distance themselves by at least two metres from anyone in the property

• Avoid touching surfaces where possible

• Wear protective gloves and other additional protection equipment where necessary

• Ask you if they can wash their hands before and after the visit, if you are happy for

them to do so

All of our staff are encouraged to keep up-to-date with the latest government health advice, follow good hygiene practice and to inform their manager if they feel unwell. Staff will be expected to follow official advice and if anyone is suspected of having the virus, we would expect them to self-isolate.

We kindly ask you to minimise interaction with our tradespeople as they carry out work in your home. To keep our colleagues safe, we would ask that you stand at least two metres away from our colleagues where you can. All tradespeople will show you identification when they visit your home. Please check this and once you are satisfied, leave our tradespeople to carry out their work. Upon completion of the job, the tradespeople will advise you they have finished and are leaving, and they will see themselves out. By following these steps, we want to reassure you that there is a low risk of infection from a home visit by a staff member.

Non-emergency Repairs

If you have a repair issue to report but it is not in the list above, then we are asking you to continue to report these issues so they can be logged. We will monitor government advice closely and seek to resume normal service as quickly as possible.

Please remember we are trying to support social distancing and protect the health and safety of residents and our staff as much as we can during these unprecedented times. From 24th March, any non-emergency repairs in your home that were already scheduled will be postponed, and we will contact you to confirm this if you had an appointment. There is no need to contact us to postpone future non-emergency appointments in your home.

Advice/support for tenants on handling isolation

It’s understandable that not only our residents, but communities everywhere will be worried about how their lives are going to be affected over the coming months. The government has provided guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK and how we can all work together to protect each other. This includes steps you can take to stay connected with family and friends during this time, for Governemnt advice on social distancing, please visit the Covid-19 Coronavirus advice webpage here.

As we anticipate there will be disruption for an extended period of time, where tenants are self-isolating and have no local friends and family to assist with delivering prescriptions and other vital supplies, you can find lots of information on accessing assistance by visiting the Shetland Together website, which is a fantastic resource set up by local people, for local people.

If you are concerned about a vulnerable neighbour please let us know and we can provide you with advice and assistance.

If you are feeling worried or overwhelmed, support is also available from the following organisations:

• Breathing Space: 0800 83 85 87

• MIND: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/

• Samaritans: 116 123 or https://www.samaritans.org/?nation=scotland

• SHOUT: Text SHOUT to 85258 or visit https://www.giveusashout.org/

Bulk Uplifts

There are no planned changes to the local refuse collection arrangements at this time, however, bulk uplift services have now been suspended by the Shetland Islands Council. The Gremista Waste Management Facility has now been closed to the public until further notice, if you need advice on disposing waste then please contact SIC Waste Management either by phone 01595 743960 or via e-mail waste@shetland.gov.uk

To ensure fire safety in the common areas of your home please keep stairs, landings and basements clear of bulk items. Please inform us of any obstructions.

Scams and bogus callers

We would also remind tenants to be vigilant against potential scammers and rogue traders.

Be aware of any cold callers, particularly those asking for upfront payments, and follow the advice provided by Trading Standards: https://www.tsscot.co.uk/coronavirus-covid-19-scams/

If you feel uncomfortable or suspicious, call Police Scotland on 101. If you feel threatened or unsafe at any time, call 999.

You can also report rogue traders to Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000 or through their website.