Housing Services – Level 4 update

From 26 December Angus will move to Level 4 of COVID-19 restrictions.

The changes will mainly affect our repairs service. We will only accept new emergency repairs in occupied properties, and this includes:

•    loss of heating and/or hot water – Total loss of both heating & hot water with no electric shower

•    an uncontainable leak

•    sewage backing up and overflowing into the property

•    a serious security problem, such as a front door that cannot be locked

•    loss of essential services, such as water or electricity

The Right to Repair will be suspended.

When you contact ACCESSline on 03452 777 778 to report a repair, we will ask you the following questions to help us determine how best to protect against the spread of the virus:

1.    Do you currently have any symptoms of coronavirus? (new cough, high temperature, loss of smell or taste)

2.    Has anyone you work or socialise with closely had coronavirus within the last 14 days?

3.    Are you in a vulnerable or shielding group as identified in government guidance?

We will then:

1.    Assess the repair required and if it is classed as emergency, your repair will be processed in the normal way.

2.    If your repair is not classed as Emergency, we will not carry out the repair at this time. As before your housing officer will keep note of your routine repair.

3.    Please be advised that contractors will have to wear specialised personal protective equipment while in your property.

If you’ve already reported a repair, and it hasn’t been completed by Christmas Eve, then it will be on hold until the restrictions are relaxed again.

If you are reporting a gas repair to WRB directly you will be asked the same questions to allow them to assess how they will deal with your repair.

When we are able to deal with routine repairs again, we will post an update here.

If you report a repair to us, we will assume that we have your permission for our contractor to carry it out if they can.

Planned Maintenance

Many of our planned works, examples listed below, were due to restart on 5 January 2021, but this is no longer the case and we will contact tenants who have been given installation dates to advise of this and advise a new date when contractors return in the New Year.

•    Bathroom Upgrades

•    Kitchen Upgrades

•    Planned Heating Upgrades

•    Window Upgrades

•    Energy Efficiency Internal Works (including the ABS and ECO Flex schemes)

External works such as External Wall Insulation will restart as planned.

Other Services

Allocations – House moves to empty properties are unaffected. We will be offering tenancies as normal, and applicants can register and bid for properties at the Angus Homefinder site.

Homelessness – We will have very limited access to accommodation for callers who have nowhere to stay. We would encourage people not to travel or move between different restricted levels areas and to follow the government guidance.

Sheltered Housing

Sheltered lounges remain closed for the time being.

Fire Alarm Servicing is a requirement, and this work will go ahead where tenants have been notified and are comfortable with contractors working in their home.

Communal Areas: there are some planned works to carry out improvements to some lifts which includes a temporary stairlift installation. This work will go ahead, and we would ask that you use social distancing in the areas of this work.

Estate management – Housing and antisocial behaviour officers will continue to contact customers mainly by telephone. Home visits will be the exception and mainly limited to doorsteps only.

We appreciate that this enforced change is frustrating. Our team is working really hard to provide support for you, but our resources are fully stretched at the moment. Our officers are doing their best to deliver as much of our normal service as they can, whilst also taking on additional activities related to the COVID Emergency response. Thank you for your patience and understanding in this difficult period.

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Mediation and Conflict Resolution Service

 

Not getting on with your parents, partner, or family members? Then, our family Mediation and Conflict Resolution service may be able to help.

Our partnership with Relationships Scotland can support people to stop them becoming homeless because of a relationship breakdown. Even if leaving the family home isn’t preventable, the service can help support a planned move to other accommodation. The service can also work with people to help to rebuild relationships with family members, which may help them to return home.

We will work with you and your family, to make practical, workable arrangements for the future, which everyone can agree. We will treat you with respect, go at your pace, and keep things confidential. We’ll take into account the views, needs, and feelings of everyone involved; including you.

The service can support anyone in Angus, regardless of whether you live in our tenancy, or not.

Whether it’s you or someone you care about who’s struggling with conflict in their family, please get in touch.

For more information or to self-refer visit our Mediation and Conflict Resolution website.

Working with Families to Stop Homelessness

Today we launched a new Mediation & Conflict Resolution Service in partnership with Relationships Scotland.

One of the five strategic priorities agreed for our Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan is to increase the focus on prevention to stop homelessness in the first place. Relationship breakdown continues to be the most common reason for homeless applications in Angus, supporting the need for an introduction of mediation or conflict resolution intervention.

Relationships Scotland (Family Mediation Tayside & Fife) will deliver the mediation and conflict resolution service in Angus. The key anticipated outcomes of the service are:

Families, young people and individuals will resolve conflict to allow the family to remain together in the family home, where it is safe and agreed to do so.

Where a move is agreed, the family or individual will improve communication and enhance relationships with family members to ensure that the move can be completed in a planned and supported way. Individuals/family members will have increased access to further support from other services in Angus, both in house and externally to further minimise the risk of homelessness.

The family mediation and conflict resolution service will be able to accept referrals from a wide range of agencies and also accept self-referrals. If you feel that you and your family would benefit from the mediation and conflict resolution service, then please get in touch using this form.

After referral, Relationships Scotland will contact the family, couple or individual who has been referred and will arrange to start the mediation process.

Mediators main roles will be:

  • Being responsible for the assessment and provision of an impartial mediation service to help people avoid irretrievable family breakdown by working with family members to resolve difficult issues and to establish mutually agreed courses of action.
  • To make use of a range of approaches including individual and family group work, to assist families to communicate better with one another and to manage the conflict that can cause distress in the family.
  • To work with people who may be already homeless, to find solutions for re-establishing positive contact with their families.

As well as providing a mediation service, Relationships Scotland will also have a Family Support Worker working in the project. The support worker will actively engage with each referred family to explore any additional support needed. Ongoing meetings will be arranged as appropriate to the family’s circumstances.

The Support Worker will also support the family outside of mediation and will follow up matters after the mediation has finished.

For more information, download the project flyer below.

Private Landlord Survey – Please Help!

We want to hear from private landlords in Angus…

The national homelessness charity Crisis* is working with us to improve housing options and support in the private rented sector. This month, Crisis is conducting a survey of our landlords on our behalf.

Please help by completing the survey by 31 August.

Why are we getting in touch during COVID-19?

We recognise many landlords are seriously concerned about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on tenancies and the rental market, and may be looking for advice or options which offer support and longer term reassurances. Now more than ever, we want to ensure existing tenants get the right help and support to avoid tenancies failing.

At the same time, because of the pandemic, we have a large number of households in urgent housing need, some of whom are in temporary accommodation. All of these households are seeking long-term homes. 

What do we mean by “urgent housing need”?

This does not simply mean sleeping on the streets. It means not having a safe home. Whilst sleeping on the streets is the worst form of homelessness, this is very rare in Angus. Most people registered with us as being in urgent housing need have experienced a family or relationship breakdown.  They’re likely to be sleeping on sofas, living in unsafe or overcrowded conditions, or staying in our temporary accommodation.

Why can’t everyone get social housing?

There’s simply not enough social housing to meet demand. We have especially high demand for one bedroom homes across Angus, particularly in the Forfar and Arbroath areas. This means people who are in urgent housing need can still wait a very long time for a home. We know the private sector can help to fill this gap, as private landlords often have good quality homes in the areas people want to stay.

What’s in it for private landlords?

Through Crisis’ work with Councils and private landlords in Scotland, we know there are many successful initiatives bringing landlords and local people in housing need together.

We want to give better support and incentives to landlords to help people in housing need move into private tenancies. We also want to improve the sustainability of private tenancies, by ensuring the right services are in place for tenants and landlords, preventing unnecessary homelessness, especially as we move out of the pandemic.

We’d like you to tell us what we could do to encourage and incentivise more landlords to work with us, to provide more homes for people who desperately need them and work together to reduce tenancy problems like arrears and neighbour nuisance.

Why should landlords do the survey?

1.      it’s anonymous. You don’t need to provide your name or contact details unless you want to

2.      it’s quick. It will only take 5-10 minutes of your time – the questions are mainly multiple choice

3.      it doesn’t commit you to anything!

4.     it’s a chance for landlords to have their voices heard, and tell us what they’d like from us in future

5.    whatever your opinions, by completing this survey you’ll be helping us to help people in Angus. All landlord feedback gives us a better understanding of what they want and what we could do next

So – please help.  Thank you in advance

* Your responses will be collated and analysed by Crisis. No landlord data has been passed to Crisis.  The survey will close on 31 August. 

Please note Crisis is also working with Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Council on this subject. If you rent out properties in those areas too, you’ll be contacted by those organisations too – but you only need to complete the survey once. If you have any questions or comments on this survey or this work, please contact Lucie at Crisis: lucie.dunn@crisis.org.uk  

Urgent: Calling Private Landlords in Arbroath

We are currently having difficulty finding accommodation for people with urgent housing needs in Arbroath.

If you have any accommodation that you could let now, please contact houarbroathcht@angus.gov.uk

Any accommodation will be considered, although 1 bedroomed accommodation is most in need.

Benefits for landlords:

  • Avoid property sitting empty / rent loss
  • We will assess the suitability of potential tenants, including financial assessment
  • We can support the tenant to access a rent deposit
  • Information and advice available about landlord’s rights and responsibilities and other aspects of private sector tenancy legislation
  • Support, advice and assistance to resolve any disputes that may arise
  • Support for tenants by helping them to sustain their tenancies including, budgeting, paying bills and connections to utilities

We wanted to thank all the private landlords who have contacted us over the last week to help us support people with urgent housing need into private rented tenancies.

A Big Thank You to Our Private Landlords

We wanted to thank all the private landlords who have contacted us over the last week to offer to help us support people with urgent housing need into private rented tenancies. The response from you all has been incredible.

As a result of significant resource restrictions and the suspension of some repairs services and cleaning services, we and our Housing Association partners are finding it difficult to meet the needs of people who need housing urgently at this time.

If you haven’t already been in touch with us and have available property or properties you could offer to people in need, please contact:

In Arbroath / Carnoustie / Monifieth – please email  HouArbroathCHT@angus.gov.uk

In Brechin /Montrose – please email    BrechinMontroseCHT@angus.gov.uk

In Forfar / Kirriemuir – please email    ForfarCHT@angus.gov.uk

Your continued support and assistance is appreciated.

Funding Announced to Help End Homelessness

We’re pleased to announce the award of £172,000 from the Scottish Government to support our 5 year Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan to help prevent homelessness and ensure homeless people get the help they need quickly .

The funding is part of the £50 million Ending Homelessness Together fund announced by the First Minister to support the prevention of homelessness and the implementation of the recommendations from the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group.

As a key part of these recommendations, each local authority submitted their Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan to the Scottish Government by 31 December 2018. Soon we will publish our plan, following feedback received from the Scottish Government. The plan outlines a number of actions under five priorities to achieve rapid rehousing in Angus, developed with extensive consultation with partners, stakeholders and the community:

  • PRIORITY 1: Increase focus on prevention to stop homelessness happening in the first place
  • PRIORITY 2: Ensure households get through the homeless system faster
  • PRIORITY 3: Ensure homeless households can access existing housing
  • PRIORITY 4: Ensure homeless households can access the right type of support
  • PRIORITY 5: Increase affordable housing supply to meet needs of homeless households

The distribution of the remaining £16 million funding for 2020/21 and 2021/22 will be subject to further consideration of potential options by the Scottish Government and COSLA.

Communities Convener, Mark Salmond said

We welcome the additional funding which will help us and our partners deliver a number of initiatives identified to make the change to rapid rehousing that we are all committed to. We will continue to work in partnership with the Scottish Government to support the strong, determined national effort to end rough sleeping, transform the use of temporary accommodation and end homelessness.

Do You Need Help to Manage Your Home? Contact the Homelessness Support Service.

 


If you need help to manage your home. It could be – 

  • getting benefits, budgeting and debt
  • setting up and keeping your tenancy
  • finding training, education or employment, or
  • dealing with Council, NHS or other services

 

You could get help from the Homelessness Support Service – call ACCESSLine 03452 777778.

Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan in Angus approved

RRTP

A 5-year Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan was approved by Councillors in last week. As we mentioned in the previous post, Local Authorities, have been asked by the Scottish Government to work with local partners to bring forward a 5-year plan by December 2018.

This is a new policy to address homelessness more pro-actively; through prevention, by moving people through temporary accommodation quicker, and by improving the support they receive through better co-ordination.

Prevention will be the first priority, and that means directing resources to things such as mental health support, combating substance abuse, and helping prevent relationship breakdown. For those who do become homeless we will prioritise the allocation of our accommodation to them so that we can deliver the support they need to re-establish themselves quickly in the community. For that to happen we also need the help and understanding of the community.

We and our partners will also need to increase allocations to homeless households to 58% of all lets initially. So for us, out of the 800 changes of tenancy in the first year, we estimate that around 464 of those will be allocated to homeless households.

The main aim of the Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan will be provide long-term housing provision for Angus citizens, at a time when they are most vulnerable.

This plan sets out how we in Angus can achieve that aim over the next 5 years. Successful implementation of the plan will result in:

  • Increased focus on prevention, to reduce homeless applications
  • Reduced the time it takes to process homeless cases
  • Reduced time spent in temporary accommodation
  • Reducing the number of temporary accommodation units and instead helping support people into permanent housing quicker
  • Increasing tenancy sustainment