COVID-19 advice and information

There have been some changes to our housing service during coronavirus and we are pleased that as restrictions ease, services are returning to normal. 

In the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) below, we have outlined how we have changed the way we work, like when repairs are being undertaken or moving in or out of a property. These changes have all been implemented under government guidance, ensuring that we help slow the coronavirus spread.

If you cannot find the exact answer you are looking for, please contact us. 

Keeping in touch with you

We contact all tenants and leaseholders regularly and offer dedicated support to residents in supportive housing and  temporary accommodation. You can receive updates from us in a range of ways including post, email, and text with translations available by request. We also carry out telephone and house calls to reach residents without internet access. 

Each fortnight, we send an e-newsletter to all residents called YourHome with news and updates on our housing services. Subscribe to and view past editions online at www.westminster.gov.uk/yourhousing/yourhome .

We host weekly residents’ representative meetings online to stay in touch and hear about what’s important to you. Contact us to find out more about resident engagement and how you can get involved.

Online

You can sign up and use our online services anytime to request repairs, report anti-social behaviour, pay bills and update your contact details, by visiting www.westminster.gov.uk/yourhousing/report.

To access our online services, you will need to register for an account. Please contact us if you need help with this. 

In-person by appointment only

Please only visit if you have an appointment and do not come in if anyone in your household has COVID-19 symptoms, is shielding or vulnerable.

Screens are in place on receptions and throughout interview rooms to keep our centres COVID-secure.  A new intercom system lets us know when you have arrived for your appointment. We have installed signage to encourage the use of face coverings and social distancing. Hand sanitiser is also available.

Contact us to make an appointment.

Vulnerable residents and community supportive housing

We regularly call on vulnerable residents and help with urgent repairs, groceries, health services and financial advice. For residents living in community supportive housing, we have dedicated support and care available.

Contact us if you would like us to check in on you regularly. Welfare calls to tenants and leaseholders are in partnership with Westminster Connects.

Westminster Connects links volunteers to those who need help in Westminster. Volunteers across the community can deliver shopping, collect and deliver prescriptions, or just be there.

If you are worried about someone or want to get involved, please contact Westminster Connects (opens new window).

Further advice on

Working safely: repairs and major works

If you are expecting us to attend to carry out a repair or a safety check, you must inform us if your household has symptoms of COVID-19 or if you are isolating or shielding. We will then assess and agree with you on how we will carry out your repair while keeping your household and contractors safe.

Repairs 

Non-urgent repairs in communal areas and in-flat electrical and plumbing repairs are now available; however, all other types of repairs remain on hold. Others will be introduced when we are sure that they can all be done safely. Emergency and urgent repair services have remained available.

Please remember the following:

  • you are responsible for some repairs
  • you will receive notice before we work in your communal areas
  • we will never cold call you at your home 
  • we will ask you in advance about the health of household members
  • our contractors must provide identification before entering your property 

Gas and smoke alarm checks 

We continue to carry out annual gas and smoke alarm checks by making every effort to abide by existing gas safety regulations and take all reasonable steps to comply.

Major works

Major works are underway. We are consulting with residents on each project, through online consultation and one-to-one calls, so you can raise concerns and get answers to questions quickly. There are dedicated webpages for each major works project which you can view here. 

The suspension of major works onsite from April through July 2020 could change the estimated costs for leaseholders. Prices vary for many reasons, including supply chain and staffing issues affected by the pandemic. Formal consultation processes will be adhered to so that leaseholders can make observations and have a say on proposed work.

For questions about your leaseholder bill, please contact us directly.

Working safely

When carrying out work of any kind such as repairs or major works, we will be complying with the government’s guidance on managing the risk of COVID-19 at all times by:

  • carrying out a COVID-19 risk assessment which is available to all workers and residents by request
  • introducing cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures (such as PPE) in line with guidance
  • taking all reasonable steps to help people work from home where possible
  • taking all reasonable steps to maintain social distancing guidelines while working
  • doing everything practical to manage transmission risk where social distancing cannot be maintained

We do not test contractors for COVID-19, but they must complete a health assessment daily. They will not be permitted to work for 14 days if they report symptoms.

As a minimum inside buildings and homes, contractors will maintain the social distance guidance and wear PPE, including gloves and face masks. If a resident is clinically vulnerable, isolating, or shielding and it is essential for us to complete a repair, coveralls and shoe covers will also be used.

Our contractors use hand sanitiser and have cleaning materials to ensure surfaces they come into contact with are clean before and after work.

Find out more information on the government guidance (opens new window).

Estate management and waste

Cleaning of communal areas including door handles, lift buttons, handrails and switches has been increased to twice a day Monday through Friday and once per day on the weekend.

We use cleaning products designed to fight against cross-infection, ensuring the highest level of protection even when used with cold water.

Waste collection has not changed and continues as usual. If we miss your waste collection please tell us online at webforms.westminster.gov.uk/report-missed-waste-collection/ (opens new window). To ensure health and safety, dispose of your rubbish properly in the allocated bins and continue to be mindful and respectful of your fellow residents.

Gardening has also returned to normal with mowing, watering, clearing leaves, pruning hedges and shrubs and tree maintenance.

Financial and employment support

We know that coronavirus has affected many residents with loss of employment or changes to income and that this can be stressful and challenging. Regardless of your circumstances, if you are having difficulties, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can help you. You may be eligible for support to help with your living costs, including council tax and rent. We can also help you navigate other support options and improve your opportunities through our network of partners.

Finances

Book an appointment with one of our advisors (opens new window). You can also contact us with any questions. 

We provide you with free and personalised options to help you keep out of debt and combat any stress you are experiencing. As part of this customised service, we will:   

  • only ask for information on a need to know basis to understand your needs  
  • make a plan to improve your wellbeing and finances together  
  • guide and support you to get results, as long as you need us  
  • ensure we have your consent and protect your privacy every step of the way

Employment 

Whether you are a first-time job seeker or looking for a career change, we can support you through this.

Contact us for free help with:

  • your CV and applications 
  • searching for jobs 
  • interview preparation 
  • new skills and training

Being neighbourly: noise, gatherings and communal safety

We are aware that some people use the coronavirus pandemic to scam members of the public and make money by exploiting people’s fears, particularly older and vulnerable people who are isolated. Be wary of people or companies selling at the door, by phone, post, or online. Find more information on how to protect yourself from these scams (opens new window).

If you are suffering from ongoing nuisance noise caused by a neighbour, you can contact us with any questions. We will then follow up with the resident directly and get back to you about it within two business days. Please do not contact your neighbour directly.

Please also be mindful of your noise, such as keeping your television at an appropriate volume and refraining from using washing machines late at night.                                                                                   

If you are concerned about people gathering or that an Unlicensed Music Event (UME) may be taking place, you can report it online: www.westminster.gov.uk/yourhousing/report. We will log and respond to all concerns raised by residents.  Alternatively, you can inform the Police by calling 101 to take enforcement action where appropriate. 

Community halls and recreation

Our community halls are open for bookings and use.

New risk assessments are complete, and we have installed signage to ensure that social distancing is maintained when the spaces are in use. Hand sanitiser is also available for use. Please make sure to play your part in helping to slow coronavirus spread if you are using these facilities

Non-exercise activities such as prayer groups, youth groups and workshops, are encouraged, in line with government guidance, which restricts the types of activities allowed. 

We will assess new bookings case by case. Each community hall risk assessment sets out the maximum capacity for any events and these details have all been updated online.

Some of the bookings that we cannot currently accept are large parties, including weddings, or indoor performances such as drama, comedy, and music, which take place in front of a live audience. Gatherings of more than 30 people are permitted, but attendees will need to be socially distant from those they don’t live with. Make a booking here: https://www.westminster.gov.uk/yourhousing/spacesforhire
 

Playgrounds, unsupervised sports pitches and outdoor gyms are available, and signage is in place to remind users, including supervising adults, how to safely and appropriately use them. Supervised sports pitches remain closed for the time being.
Please:

  • avoid using facilities when they are busy
  • sanitise or wash your hands for 20 seconds regularly, before and after using equipment
  • do not use this facility if you or any member of your household has coronavirus symptoms or are self-isolating
  • keep a safe distance from anyone outside of your household including when waiting to use equipment take any disposable PPE home with you or use the bins where provided

Please take precautions when you can’t maintain a social distance of 2 metres. We recommend wearing face coverings, facing away from each other, and minimising the amount of time in contact with others as much as possible. COVID-19 risk assessments are in place for these publicly accessible facilities with shared equipment; they are checked and cleaned more regularly but not sanitised or disinfected.

If you see crowds gathering in these public areas, please telephone the Police on 999. You can make reports to them anonymously. 

There is signage in all areas that are closed. If you see people using these unauthorised spaces, please report it to the Police by calling 101 as any such activity, including vandalism or trespassing, is a Police matter.

Visit www.westminster.gov.uk/parks-gardens-and-open-spaces (opens new window) to discover more about parks, gardens, and open spaces in Westminster, including opening times and locations.

Refurbishing homes to let, viewing, bidding and moving

We are still doing everything we can to support the vulnerable and help people into a safe place to live sooner, following government guidance. 

To ensure people needing to move for urgent health and welfare reasons remain our priority, we have introduced an interim approach to our allocations policy.

If you are waiting for more suitable housing, we will keep you updated via email and text about changes moving forward. We have set up an electronic mailing list for alerts about housing allocations and moves as we respond to government guidelines.

You may have been waiting longer or have more points to bid with, but if you have secure housing, for now, you may not need to move as urgently as others. We are doing everything we can to ensure you are not disadvantaged as a result of these interim changes 

We are making direct offers to people that need to move urgently, due to the impact of COVID-19, in line with our interim priority list which prioritises essential moves for eligible applicants.

Bidding options, as part of Choice-Based Lettings (CBL), will be gradually offered.  Certain groups of applicants, willing to move during COVID-19, can bid for preferred properties online at https://westminster.homeconnections.org.uk (opens new window).

The moving process has changed, including:

  • only carrying out viewings digitally through photographs or video instead of in-person
  • signing tenancy agreements electronically wherever possible
  • following strict safety measures based on COVID-19 risk assessments when relocating

Read the full details of these changes, how people are allocated homes and move, at www.westminster.gov.uk/housing-strategies (opens new window).

For further questions, call 0207 641 1000 or email hsscustomerservices@wcchss.org.uk.