Coronavirus (COVID-19)

View updates on coronavirus and council services. If you are affected and need assistance, please visit Grampian Coronavirus (COVID-19) Assistance Hub.


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Housing services - Coronavirus

As a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak we have made some changes to our services:

If you are a British Sign Language (BSL) user, you can have this information translated for you via contactSCOTLAND-BSL, the online British Sign Language interpreting service.

Homeless service

We ask customers who are facing immediate homelessness to contact us by phone. We have a generic phone number to contact during office hours 01467 533509.

We also operate a text service using whatsapp (07776 190987) between the hours of 8am and 8pm. Customers should leave their name and contact details and we will get in touch with them. Calls to this number will not be answered.

Out of hours the service can be contacted on 03456 081203.

The Scottish Government has confirmed that there will be no evictions granted by the courts from any rented housing. This includes renting from local authorities, housing associations and in the private rented sector. Protection has also been put in place for home owners.

At this time, we ask customers to remain in their current accommodation where possible and to consider all available accommodation options to resolve their homelessness.

Our ability to assist is limited and alternative accommodation if needed would be anywhere within Aberdeenshire.

Housing allocations

Following the Scottish Government announcement on 18th June 2020 to move into Phase 2, we have further reviewed our service provision. 

From 22nd June we will be restarting allocations in a phased and planned way although no moves will take place until the 29th June at the earliest. Mainstream allocations and those for Sheltered Housing Cottages will start to take place however at this time no allocations will be made in Sheltered Housing Blocks and access to facilities in these blocks will also be restricted.

Mutual Exchanges restarted from the 15th July 2020. They may take longer than normal to approve due to the backlog of work. Some housing associations have not restarted exchanges yet which is out with our control.

We will continue to correspond with you by email in the main, therefore please continue to ensure that you have an up to date email address on your application.

The situation is continuously changing and we will keep you up to date with any changes to the service, when they will take place and what to expect.

Housing Repairs and Planned Maintenance

Currently the Housing Repairs team is not attending for routine repairs, only emergencies. For emergency repairs please call 03456 081203.
As we progress through phases of the Scottish Government route map through and out of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, we will review and update our position.

In line with the Scottish Government’s guidance on social distancing, the use of PPE and the route map moving out of lockdown, we will start scheduling appointments for inspections and external works from Monday 29th June 2020. We will be able to start scheduling internal works from Monday 6th July 2020, first booking in works postponed due to the lockdown restrictions. Appointments for new requests will be subject to availability of resources and risk assessment.

To reduce any unnecessary visits, if a Clerk of Works inspection is required the Contact Centre will book a telephone appointment with a technical member of staff who can use a new IT system to interact with you to identify the issue. If however this is not possible then a visit will be booked in but only if the risk assessment allows us to do so. Non-emergency visits may have to be postponed dependant on the situation, which you can discuss at your telephone appointment.

Risk assessments have been carried out and social distancing measures are in place, to ensure safety at all times. If you would prefer a visiting officer to wear gloves and a mask please request before allowing access to your property.

There will be several changes to the way in which work is done. The physical distancing restrictions of COVID-19 mean that it may not now be possible to schedule different trades at the same time; they may have to be scheduled one after the other. Work may also be disrupted if tenants or any of our staff develop symptoms of COVID-19, or if a household member develops symptoms or is asked to self-isolate as part of the ongoing Trace and Protect procedure. Please advise us if anything changes before your appointment.

Tenant and contractor safety will be the main priority. The council has asked contractors to provide evidence that they have changed their health and safety plans, risk assessments and method statements to fully reflect all of the latest COVID-19 guidance. Particular attention has been paid to how the contractors will be dealing with physical distancing and enhanced hygiene when working in a tenant’s home.

Our contractors will be returning gradually as a ‘soft start’, doing fewer jobs than pre-lockdown, to allow their teams to become more familiar with the new ways of working.

As always, we would ask for your co-operation to allow us to work in your home and for your patience and understanding at this very difficult and challenging time.

Void properties

The Scottish Government have been clear that the council needs to continue to fulfil its statutory duty with void properties in the context of homelessness, the flow of properties is seen as both vital and essential works. Those involved in the void process and associated works fit within the definition of essential public services, providing capacity across the system.

Risk Assessments have been carried out and social distancing measures are in place, to ensure safety at all times.

Gas servicing

During the current COVID-19 situation, the Scottish Government has advised that local Councils are required to use their best efforts to undertake gas safety checks, and if unable to do so, to retry as soon as is possible and appropriate, while having full regard for advice on self-isolation, hygiene and distancing.

If tenants receive a Gas Servicing notification letter, and have been advised by the government that they are shielding, vulnerable, self-isolating or have been confirmed with COVID-19 they are asked to inform FES on 01224 766692, and no service will be undertaken until after the relevant isolation period.

Once the self-isolation period is completed, please call FES on 01224 766692 to arrange a suitable time for the service to be carried out.

However if you smell gas, or if you have concerns about the safety of your appliances, you should call the gas emergency service provider on 0800 111 999, and switch off appliances until the gas emergency supplier or a registered gas engineer, has attended and advised that the appliances are safe to use.

Housing Improvement Programme

In line with the Scottish Government’s guidance on social distancing, the use of PPE and the route map moving out of lockdown, the 4 contractors working on the council’s Housing Improvement Programme (HIP) will be able to start up again from Monday 6th July 2020. However, all upgrade works within sheltered housing properties remain stopped until further notice, except for any emergency repairs. Also, no upgrade works will be carried out in a home if one of the households is currently shielding up until the 31st July 2020.

Tenant and contractor safety will be the main priority. The council has asked the HIP contractors to provide evidence that they have changed their health and safety plans, risk assessments and method statements to fully reflect all of the latest COVID-19 guidance. Particular attention has been paid to how the contractors will be dealing with physical distancing and enhanced hygiene when working in a tenant’s home.

There will be several changes to the way in which work is done. The physical distancing restrictions of COVID-19 mean that it will take longer for the team working in a home to carry out each upgrade. Also, it may not now be possible to do several upgrades at the same time; they will have to be done one after the other. The contractors have also planned for their work being disrupted should any member of their team develop symptoms of COVID-19, or if a household member develops symptoms or is asked to self-isolate as part of the ongoing Trace and Protect procedure.

The HIP contractors will be returning to site gradually as a ‘soft start’. The contractors will start back by doing fewer upgrades that pre-lockdown to allow their teams to become more familiar with the new ways of working. They will mainly start by focusing on carrying out surveys for works to be done in the future, doing outside upgrades such as roof and dormer upgrades, (even though these may require access to inside the home for short periods), and doing lower risk internal single upgrades. They will also be completing the remaining minor works needed to finish off in those homes that could not be fully completed prior to the lockdown.

Each home will be different. If the council has already let you know that you are due to have works done in HIP Year 2, the contractors will write to you again, as they would have done but now they will let you know when and how they plan to work in your home and tell you how much longer the works will take.

As always, we would ask for you co-operation to allow us to work in your home and for your patience and understanding at this very difficult and challenging time.

Sheltered housing

The precautionary measures introduced within Sheltered Housing schemes will continue into Phase 2 of the Scottish Government route map. We request that tenants continue to limit visitors into schemes unless they are providing an essential service for example, care or delivering shopping.

All common rooms remain closed and social and other activities that would normally take place are cancelled for the foreseeable future.

Guest bedrooms remain closed and no future bookings are being taken at this time.

Sheltered housing staff will continue to respond to urgent calls, undertake health and safety checks and carry out routine cleaning of high frequency touch points. Contact with tenants may be done remotely from an alternative location.

Only emergency repairs will be undertaken within tenant flats and common areas, any planned upgrades or non-essential works will not be progressed at this time given the risks involved.

Sheltered housing officers and other staff will be available to offer advice and assistance to tenants and can be contacted by telephone on the numbers below between 8.45am and 5pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 1pm Saturday and Sunday:

  • Buchan sheltered schemes - 01358 281139
  • Banff and Buchan sheltered schemes – 01346 417360
  • Garioch sheltered schemes and Formartine sheltered schemes – 01467 539057
  • Kincardine and Mearns sheltered schemes and Marr sheltered schemes - 01224 472856

Please note should an outbreak of coronavirus occur in a sheltered housing scheme, there will be limited access and full lock down restrictions will be introduced to that specific sheltered housing scheme.

Your tenancy

Our resources remain focused on the provision of support, advice and information to our most vulnerable service users. Therefore, you might be contacted by housing officers if you fall into one of the groups vulnerable to the virus or where it is apparent that you may be struggling to pay your rent. We have adopted a person-centred approach ensuring that tenants have the opportunity to discuss any issues facing them with a range of partner agencies.

If you are experiencing difficulty with any aspect of your tenancy please contact your local housing office in order to discuss any problems that you are facing so we can assist you in managing the situation, and ensure that we have the opportunity to refer you to partner agencies for further advice.

Front-line officers will recommence more engagement with tenants but only where social distancing can be maintained and they will not enter tenant’s homes. We have commenced grass cutting for those tenants on the garden maintenance scheme but it may take some time before all gardens are cut. No new applications from tenants for garden maintenance will be accepted in the meantime. We still request that you withhold any requests for permission to undertake any improvements or alteration to your home as we will be unable to respond within normal timescales. The Tenancy Services team are on hand to assist you and can be contacted by telephone:

Your rent

If you are able to pay rent as normal you must continue to do so. If you are unable to pay the full amount, you should contact your housing officer to discuss this and allow them to assist you during this period.

It is likely during this time that many tenants who are experiencing financial difficulties as a result of coronavirus will be eligible for some financial support at this time. Our housing officers can assist you to make a claim for Universal Credit, Discretionary Housing Payment, Council Tax Reduction or get help through the Scottish Welfare Fund. We will also direct you to other agencies that may be able to assist you.

The Scottish Government has made changes to the legislation to ensure no eviction action is taken within 6 months of a Notice of Proceedings being served for notices served after 7th April 2020. For anyone who had previously been served with a Notice of Proceedings or where court action is ongoing, we will take account of the impact of the current crisis on individual tenants and will continue to support tenants to maintain their tenancies. It therefore remains very important that if you are unable to make payment that you contact your housing officer to make a suitable payment arrangement or to obtain advice and assistance to ensure that you can make payments to your rent.

Each tenant who faces rent arrears will be treated on an individual basis and if we contact you by letter, telephone, email or text, we ask you to contact us urgently to allow us to help you through this period:

Tenant participation

Since the lock-down due to coronavirus we have had to suspend all face-to-face meetings with tenants, which is not ideal. However, we have embraced the digital methods available and been encouraged by the willingness of tenants to engage through Microsoft Teams.

Tenant Participation staff have had catch-up meetings with Sheltered Housing Forum members and other tenant volunteers. We are conscious that some tenants either do not have access to online computer facilities or are not comfortable communicating using IT and we are trying to ensure we keep contact with them. It is likely that even with the easing of lockdown restrictions it may be some time before we are able to hold face-to-face meetings, but we will keep tenants up to date on developments.

The Tenants Facebook page is now live and open to tenant volunteers. We now have members consisting of reps from Registered Tenant groups, a local Councillor and tenants from the north, south and central of Aberdeenshire. This a pilot exercise and if successful we will be extending it to the wider tenant base.

We also have a number of upcoming online meetings:

  • Tenant Participation Advisory Service - 9th July 2020,2pm
  • Tenants Communication Group - 23rd July 2020, 2pm
  • HRA Scrutiny group meeting - 27th July 2020, 2pm
  • Asset Management WG meeting – 28th July 2020, 10am

If you wish to get involved with any of these online meetings please contact our Tenant Participation Officers at claire.hancox@aberdeenshire.gov.uk, 01467 537456 or jill.harmer@aberdeenshire.gov.uk and 01467 537413.

We are also holding a Recovery Plan event on the 24th August 2020 at 2.30pm, that will allow you to speak to the managers. You will have the chance to speak to:

  • Rob Simpson - Head of Housing
  • Dave Thompson - Asset Management
  • Allan Jones - Options and Homelessness
  • Ally MacLeod - Housing Strategy
  • Andrew Mackie - Acting Housing Managers for Tenancy Services

This is an opportunity to ask any relevant questions relating to the Housing service and the recovery process following coronavirus. To discuss the impact of coronavirus and how the councils Housing Services are moving forward. Further details on how to join this event will be provided here in due time.

Your area

Aberdeenshire Community Planning Partnership has produced an interactive map detailing local area information on coronavirus, news, and events.