Help with housing

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Alert

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and in line with government advice we have have to change the way we deliver some of our housing services. Here you can find help and advice for both council and private tenants. 

Council housing Click to get info

To ensure everyone's safety we are no longer carrying out a face to face service.

We are asking people to contact us by

Housing management

For housing management issues, you can still contact our housing officers, through their usual email address.

However if your matter is urgent

Struggling to pay bills Click to get info

Private and council tenants can receive help as the Council offers a range of help for residents having problems paying their rent or Council Tax during the current emergency.

Temporary accommodation

If you are living in Temporary Accommodation and need to communicate with us about your rent, please email TAincomeandpayments@walthamforest.gov.uk

Council tenant

If you're a council tenant having trouble with rent payments during this time, please contact our rent team 

If your enquiry is urgent, please contact us on 020 8496 4197.

leaseholders

If you are a Leaseholder, Managing Agent or a Legal Representative of the Leaseholder and need to contact our home ownership team during this time please use our form.

Contact your home ownership team

Please do not enter account numbers or other personal information in the description box.

Please confirm whether you are the Leaseholder or whether you are filling out this form on behalf of a Leaseholder.

If your enquiry is urgent, please contact us on 020 8496 4197

Ending a council tenancy Click to get info

For all enquiries about how to end a tenancy and return keys contact our housing co-ordinator team.

We are delivering emergency repairs and maintenance services, keeping safe our residents who live in homes managed by Waltham Forest Council.

For Emergency Repairs  for Council Tenants and Leaseholders please contact us as normal on

  • 020 8496 4197.

When you contact our repairs line you must let us know if you are in a vulnerable group (over 70 years old or with a serious medical condition) or if you have been told to self-isolate.

Critical emergency repairs

Critical emergency repairs include

  • total loss of power
  • total loss of water supply
  • dangerous structures
  • very serious leaks
  • gas leaks
  • water leaks
  • lift breakdowns
  • cold water main booster pump failure
  • communal and district heating system failure
  • sewage pumps
  • power outages in homes and communal areas 

We aim to respond to critical emergency repairs within two to four hours. 

Essential emergency repairs

Essential emergency repairs include

  • heating and hot water breakdowns
  • electrical repairs
  • stairlift breakdowns
  • door entry defects
  • domestic appliances
  • TV aerials
  • Solar panels
  • blocked toilets and sinks

We aim to respond to an essential emergency repair within 24 hours, or next working day.

Other resident repair issues

We are currently not carrying out routine repairs and maintenance and will only attend properties to make them safe.

This includes repairs to kitchen units, internal doors, dripping taps, leaks that can be contained, tiling, internal decorating after a repair and fence repairs.

Gas Safety checks                                                                  

By law we must carry out annual gas safety checks on all our Council homes. The latest guidance from the Government is that all councils must continue carrying out gas safety checks, despite the Covid-19 crisis.

Gas safety checks are vital in ensuring people’s homes are safe.

If you receive a letter about a gas safety check appointment, do not ignore it. You need to arrange to let our engineer gain access or contact us on the number given in the letter.

If you are self-isolating, we can arrange a new appointment for two weeks later.

All staff and contractors prioritise health and safety issues, like hand washing and social distancing, and have been issued with sanitisers and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Residents must keep their social distance when staff arrive and stay in separate rooms during the repair.

Dealing with an emergency repair in the home of someone self-isolating

We will attend to carry out emergency work within your home if you are currently self isolating. It is absolutely essential that you tell us you are self-isolating when you report the repairs issue. You also need to tell us if you or anyone in the household are a vulnerable resident, either because of age or a serious medical condition.

Maintenance and repair work outside the homes

Our planned work helps to ensure that vital services don’t fail and that your home is safe. We will continue with much of our planned maintenance works to protect the services you rely on in your home and that takes place in communal areas or away from residences.

This includes servicing lifts, communal heating systems, communal ventilating systems, sewage pumping stations, cold water boosting pumps, fire safety checks, and other areas that ensure delivery of the services you and your family need in your home.

Planned works update

Following new Government guidelines, we are ready to restart some of our planned works. Limited external and communal planned works have begun on some of our estates.

The work is only being carried out in external areas and in some communal areas.

Our staff will maintain small work teams to limit social interaction, and use physical barriers to ensure social distancing and safe working zones. They have been provided with extensive PPE and will follow detailed protocols on what PPE to wear in external areas, in communal areas, when travelling to and from sites in shared vehicles and in our site offices.

There will be no hand to hand exchange of tools or working face to face. They have strict protocols on safe travelling to work and ensuring health and wellbeing. Those strict protocols extend to any interaction with residents.

We are not planning, at this time, to restart our planned work programme in people’s homes.

All our contractors and Council staff carry ID. Always ask to see ID before allowing anybody into your home.

Residents must keep their social distance when staff arrive and stay in separate rooms during the repair.

All staff and contractors prioritise health and safety issues, like hand washing and social distancing, and have been issued with sanitisers and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Homelessness Click to get info

If you are worried about becoming homeless contact the Council’s housing advice team

Do not wait till you lose your home to contact us.

Do not try and visit with documents.

For temporary accommodation queries

Private tenants Click to get info

The government has brought forward a package of measures to protect renters affected by COVID-19.

With these in force, no renter in either social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home.

Rent

Tenants are still liable for their rent and should pay this as usual and continue to abide by all other terms of the tenancy agreement to the best of their ability.

The government has a strong package of financial support available to tenants, and where they can pay the rent as normal, they should do.

If you are unable to pay the full rent

If tenants think they will have difficulty meeting a rental payment, they should first speak to their landlord.

Tenants and landlords should work together to put in place a rent payment scheme.

Rent arrears

If you are struggling to pay rent an early conversation between landlord and tenant can help, with the aim to agree a plan to pay any rent arrears.

This can include reaching a temporary agreement to accept a lower level of rent, or agree a plan to pay off arrears at a later date.

If a plan is agreed to pay off arrears at a later date, it is important both tenant and landlord stick to this plan, and that tenants talk to their landlord immediately if they are unable to do so. 

Help and advice

If a tenant is worried about being unable to pay their rent, or if landlords become aware of tenants who may be in difficulty, advice is available from specialist providers such Citizens Advice.

You can contact them

The Council offers a range of help for residents having problems paying their rent or Council Tax during the current emergency. One simple form on the website is all you need to complete to apply for help.

As of Thursday 26 March 2020 landlords have to give all renters three months’ notice if they intend to seek possession (i.e. serve notice that they want to end the tenancy).

This means the landlord can’t apply to start the court process until after this period.

This extended buffer period will apply in law until Wednesday 30 September 2020 and both the end point, and the three month notice period, can be extended if needed.

This protection covers most tenants in the private and social rented sectors, and all grounds of evictions.

If you are worried about becoming homeless contact the Council’s housing advice team at

Do not wait till you lose your home to contact us.

Threatened with illegal eviction

Most people living in rented accommodation are protected by the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.

This means they cannot be made to leave their home without the proper legal process being followed. In almost all cases a landlord must get a court order.

To force someone out of their home by any means other than with a court order could be an illegal eviction. This is both a criminal offence and a breach of civil law.

While the vast majority of landlords are aware of and respect their tenant’s rights, a landlord should fully understand what could constitute harassment.

Harassment can take many forms and can include:

  • Making threats to persuade a tenant to leave.
  • Cutting off or restricting essential services such as gas, electricity or water.
  • Interfering with the tenant’s post.

If you feel that you are being threatened with eviction or experiencing harassment then contact the housing advice team

Private tenants repairs Click to get info

Landlords’ repair obligations have not changed.

Tenants have a right to a decent, warm and safe place to live and it is in the best interests of both tenants and landlords to ensure that properties are kept in good repair and free from hazards.

Good management requires regular review and maintenance of a property, but we understand that planned inspections may be more difficult at this time. However, that is no reason to allow dangerous conditions to persist.

You should inform your landlord early and engage constructively in the event that you encounter any issues with the condition of the property, and the effect of current restrictions should be considered. 

In these unprecedented times tenants and landlords should take a pragmatic, common-sense approach to non-urgent issues which are affected by COVID-19 related restrictions. 

Urgent repairs

Where reasonable, safe for you and in line with other Government guidance, we recommend that you allow local authorities, landlords or contractors access to your property in order to inspect or remedy urgent health and safety issues. 

Urgent health and safety issues are those which will affect your ability to live safely and maintain your mental and physical health in your home which could include (but is not limited to):

  • Problems with the fabric of your building, for example the roof is leaking.
  • If your boiler is broken, leaving you without heating or hot water
  • If there is a plumbing issue, meaning you don’t have washing or toilet facilities
  • If your white goods such as fridge or washing machine have broken, meaning you are unable to wash clothes or store food safely
  • If there is a security-critical problem, such as a broken window or external door 
  • If equipment a disabled person relies on requires installation or repair

Work carried out in people’s homes, for example by tradespeople carrying out repairs and maintenance, can continue, provided that the trades person is well and has no COVID-19 symptoms.

It is important to ensure that Public Health England guidelines, including maintaining a two meter distance from any household occupants, are followed to ensure everyone’s safety.

No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs, and where the trades person is willing to do so.

No work should be carried out by a trades person who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild.

Right to Buy inspections Click to get info

Our priority is the health and safety of our residents, and of our staff. We are doing everything possible to minimise the impact on the services you receive from us.

To keep everyone safer, we are limiting face to face meetings with residents.

Applications to purchase your home under the Right to Buy Scheme

To continue processing right to buy applications we are changing how we currently value and inspect your property.

We will stop physical inspections and will be carrying out desktop valuations until further notice.

In order to help us carry out our desktop valuation please can you do the following if you are able to:

  • Take a photograph of the outside of your property both front and back if you live in a house
  • Take a photograph of the outside of the block if you live in a flat or maisonette
  • Take a photograph of the bathroom and kitchen
  • Please contact us on email below and request an Improvements form which we will send to you and you need to fill out
  • Mention anything that you think should be taken into consideration and if possible take photographs of these

Please send the above information to RTB.Lease@walthamforest.gov.uk

You may need to send more than one email if the size of the photos or any files you wish to send are too big.

You can contact the RTB team

if you are unable to send any of the above information.

We will also be collecting information from the Housing Department about your home in order to form an opinion on value.

Our valuation report will also make a note that we have not been able to inspect your home internally. It will also mention that we are faced with an unprecedented set of circumstances on which to base a judgement on value and recommend that this is frequently reviewed. We will be happy for you to have a copy of the valuation report upon request when we send the Offer Notice to you.

We will let you know when we will start a normal Right to Buy inspection and valuation service again.