|Covid-19 – rent payments
We’re aware of the impact that many people have experienced since the pandemic with many seeing a loss of income. If you are struggling to pay your rent and bills we have a Financial Support team who can help.
The team will help you to budget, apply for Universal Credit and can help look at payment options to help you minimise any debts.
We are treating every enquiry individually so contact us on 0300 323 0325 or visit this page to book an appointment (link to income page)
Throughout the pandemic we have maintained the services that we provide to residents. These services, such as ground maintenance or window cleaning, are charged at cost, we do not make any profit.
We have been monitoring services weekly and if services have been significantly affected then we may look at refunds.
If we do offer a refund this will be explained to you in your next service charge letter.
If you are unhappy with any of the services, we charge you for – please get in touch
||Our Financial Support team are now offering 30-minute appointments so you can talk to us about any money worries you may have. They can help you access relevant benefits or help you to budget. You can book an appointment here or call 0300 323 0325.
|Support for older or vulnerable people
Our support services have continued throughout the pandemic – though some have moved from face to face to phone or video calls.
We also contacted all our tenants over70 years old and those who are vulnerable to check in to see if they needed any help.
Where needed we then linked people up with local support groups and in some cases delivered food parcels or medicines through staff volunteers. 123 tenants received essential food vouchers and 331 food parcels were delivered
||As more people are at home during the day than usual, we have seen an increase in anti-social behaviour.
If you do witness anti-social behaviour you can report it here: https://www.originhousing.org.uk/report-an-issue/antisocial-behaviour
|Estate services, repairs, other essential services
Throughout lockdown we have continued to provide all of our services to residents. In some areas we provided an enhanced service such as extra cleaning to make communal areas as safe as possible for people.
We were able to adapt to make sure that we followed the rules in relation to social distancing and to protect staff and residents by using relevant PPE.
It all also gave us the opportunity to open up more digital services – so you can now book a telephone or Skype call with your neighbourhood manager, our Financial support team or the rent and service charge teams.
|Kitchens and bathrooms
We base our replacement programme on a standard lifespan of a kitchen or bathroom. For a kitchen it is 20 years and a bathroom it is around 30 years.
Near the time of replacement, we usually carry out a validation survey to look at whether a replacement was needed. Based on these assessments some replacements may be deferred.
We are also starting a new programme of five yearly internal surveys so that we can improve our knowledge of the homes we manage.
This year in addition to the impact of Covid-19 we have had to focus more on our fire safety work to meet new government guidelines, so have had to postpone some of our replacement programme until next year.
|Fire safety work
This is a top priority for us, we want to make sure that your home is as safe as possible. Over the past two / three years we have invested £millions in the homes we provide and plan to continue to do so.
We have recruited additional people to our fire safety team to bring in the skills and knowledge that we need. We are undertaking in depth fire risk assessments of all of our blocks.
You can see the assessment for your building on our website.
|Communicating with people
We try to respond to every query we receive and apologise if we haven’t got back to you. We are striving to improve and have made some changes in our key frontline service areas and all customer facing staff are trained that they must keep you informed of what is happening.
We have also launched an appointment booking service where you can book a 30 minute appointment with your Neighbourhood Manager, our Home Ownership team or with our Income Team (who can help if you have any rent or money concerns.)
During the lockdown we started to use a system where we can send emails and texts to all residents in blocks, so used that as a way of checking in and keeping in touch.
We also held the Exec Team FAQs so that you could ask the team about Origin. If your question was about you or your home we sent it to the relevant team for them to respond to you direct.
We no longer have a transfer list and work closely with Local Authorities to house people.
If you would like to move then you can register with HomeSwapper.
|Selling your home
This is hugely topical at the moment. Most mortgage providers are now requiring properties undergoing sale or re-mortgage to be assessed for fire safety and signed off using an EWS1 form.
This was originally intended to only be used for buildings over 18m (around 6 storeys). Increasingly, it is being required for all properties, causing a huge backlog of properties awaiting inspection. Inspections require intrusive surveys into the walls, balconies and other areas carried out by qualified fire engineers, who are in short supply.
If any works are required, then these will need to be completed before the EWS1 form can be formally signed off to the satisfaction of the mortgage company. This may require further negotiations with contractors, warrantors or insurers to try to mitigate the costs for leaseholders.
As with most Housing Associations we have a large number of properties which will require this review. Consequently, we have to prioritise these buildings based on assessed risk – which means it will take time to get round to all of our buildings. We fully empathise with any residents waiting for the surveys to be carried out in the meantime and will get round to these as soon as we can.
You can read more here: https://www.originhousing.org.uk/residents/homeowners/selling-your-home-as-shared-owner