As the Coronavirus social distancing measures continue, we are still working hard to run our essential services and reduce the risk to our residents and staff.
We are following Government guidelines and working with other agencies to help keep our residents safe. You can also play your part by not only continuing to stick to the social distancing and self-isolation guidelines that the government have put in place but also by helping us to safely carry out essential safety checks and works in your home, keeping your building safe and being mindful of your neighbours.
Update - 19 December
All of the areas Hightown has residents or service users (Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire) are now in tier 4. The Government has published updated guidelines on tier 4 restrictions.
We will continue to let and sell homes and you can still report repairs. However, please note that only essential repairs will be able to take place before the new year. Routine repairs will continue from 4 January.
Our residents have been helping us by throwing keys from windows and remaining in other rooms while we carry out emergency repairs and statutory safety checks, which the government have said must continue during this period. If you are self-isolating for 7 or 14 days due to having Covid-19 symptoms, then we will make an appointment with you for the visit to take place after your self-isolation period has ended.
We will still be completing repairs in properties. Our contractors will wear personal protective equipment and wipe down any surfaces they touch. Please only call our Repairs telephone line if your query is related to a repair in your home. If a repair is not urgent, please report it on your MyHightown account.
The Housing team will only make home visits when essential, specifically for health and safety related issues. New resident checks and tenancy reviews are being carried out via telephone calls.
Being mindful of your neighbours
With the vast majority of people following the Government guidance to stay at home, there is likely to be an increase in noise from your neighbours. Household noise, such as children playing, household appliances, or television and music is not considered anti-social behaviour. Please be tolerant and patient with your neighbours during this time of social distancing.
Please consider the impact of what you do on other people, particularly at a time when people are unable to leave their homes. Be mindful of the noise you and your household make, and keep noise levels down in your property, and in your own or communal gardens. If you are doing DIY in your property, please make sure that you have the necessary permission from our Estates team to do the works, and carry out any works during reasonable daytime hours.
If you are experiencing persistent noise at unsociable hours (between 11pm and 7am), then we’d recommend that if you feel safe to, speak to your neighbour politely (whilst maintaining a distance of 2 metres), or put a note through their door asking them to try and minimise their noise.
If this does not improve the situation, please keep a log of what noise you’re hearing, and during which times, for two weeks before submitting the log to your Housing Officer. At the moment, our Housing Team are focussing on emergency and urgent cases. It may take us longer than usual to respond, so please bear with us if this is the case.
Smoking: if you are a smoker, please do not smoke out of windows or on balconies as it is a fire risk. The smoke also easily travels into other properties, which causes a nuisance to your neighbours.
Use of communal areas and keeping your building safe
All of our communal play areas are closed in line with the government guidance, please do not allow children to use these areas. If you have a communal garden you are able to walk around it for daily exercise, whilst observing the social distancing rules outlined in the government guidance.
Please do not leave refuse bags or rubbish in any communal areas, or on the floor of bin stores as this will not be collected by refuse workers. Please don’t light bonfires. As well as the danger of the fire spreading uncontrollably, it creates a lot of smoke that can aggravate breathing problems for people with asthma and other respiratory conditions.
Please make sure that fire doors are kept closed.
We are continuing to let our homes to new tenants as this should help homeless people and those living in difficult circumstances, to improve their ability to self-isolate. We will, of course, be following the guidance on social distancing and take sensible precautions for your safety and the safety of our staff.
If we need access to your home to carry out essential health and safety works, such as gas servicing, electrical testing or urgent repairs, we ask that you help us by keeping a 2 metre (6 feet) distance and stay in another room while the work is carried out. Our contractors will wear personal protective equipment and wipe down any surfaces they touch. If a repair is not urgent, please report it on your MyHightown account.
We are continuing to carry out essential safety checks and inspections of our buildings and communal areas, please help us by keeping fire doors closed and not leaving items in communal areas that present a fire risk or would get in the way of an escape route.
Visits to our offices and schemes
Our office is closed to visitors; if we need to meet with you for an exceptional reason we will make suitable arrangements. Please do not visit our office without an appointment.
Our care and supported housing services will follow the latest government guidance on visitors. Please check the particular scheme.
The NHS has published their 'Every Mind Matters' guidance with expert advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing.
Paying rent and service charges
Following the latest government announcement, we understand that you may have concerns about what action you need to take if your income has been affected by the coronavirus.
The government has issued the following advice:
- Find out what you can do if you're struggling because of Coronavirus
- Check if you can get statutory sick pay
- Understanding Universal Credit
- Check if you're eligible for Universal Credit
- Check if you're eligible for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Your rights if your hours are cut or you're laid off
- Claim a grant through the coronavirus self-employment income support scheme
- Financial support for shared owners and leaseholders
There are also other sources of advice available online:
- The Money Advice Service website has information on the possible implications on employment and benefits
- The Citizen’s Advice Bureau also has useful information, or you can contact the advice line by phone on 03444 111 444. You can also find information about your local branch here.
- The Money Saving Expert website is also regularly updated with information, the latest bulletin can be found here.
- Information on the Self-employment Income Support Scheme
Please note, these are external websites and Hightown is not responsible for their content.
If the coronavirus is affecting your ability to pay your rent or charges and you have been unable to find the information you needed online, please contact us. Please note, we are currently experiencing a high volume of calls. If you are a shared owner, leaseholder or live in one of our intermediate rent homes, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01442 292300.
If you are a social housing resident, you can request a call back by filling out this form:
During the pandemic we are not printing quarterly rent statements but you can check all your latest statements on your MyHightown account.
Watch out for scams
A number of scams have been identified since the outbreak of coronavirus. Please familiarise yourself with the types of scams taking place and make your family, friends and neighbours aware.
Emails, texts, telephone calls and social media messages
A large number of complaints have been made regarding false emails, texts, telephone calls and social media messages that offer refunds on taxes or bills, or that request bank details for payment of fines. Examples include fraudulent messages from Government departments issuing fines for breaching guidelines and requests for bank details to cover the payment of free school meals.
Sale of goods and services
It is important to be wary of anyone offering or selling:
- Virus testing kits – these are only offered by the NHS.
- Vaccines or miracle cures – there is currently no vaccine or cure.
- Shopping or medication collection services that require payment upfront.
- Home cleaning services.
- Overpriced or counterfeit products.
Keeping yourself safe
- Don’t be pressurised into making a decision. If someone is trying to rush you or panic you, they are probably trying to scam you.
- Only purchase goods from trusted retailers.
- Be suspicious of requests for money upfront.
- Do not give your bank card or bank details to a stranger. Never write your PIN number down.
- Know who you’re dealing with – if you don’t know the person who’s offering you help then ask to be introduced by someone that you know and trust.
You can help to protect your family, friends and neighbours by joining Friends Against Scams, which provides free online training to empower people to take a stand against scams.
Thank you for helping us to deliver essential services during this difficult time.
We will use this page to keep you updated if the situation changes.