COVID-19 (Coronavirus) FAQs

Coronavirus Advice

In line with government advice on the management of the coronavirus pandemic, it has become necessary to make changes to our services. 

These changes are in place to protect you, and our staff, while ensuring that we continue to provide key essential services.

The Department for Communities (DfC) has produced a guidance document to support tenants and landlords in the social housing rented sector during the COVID-19 outbreak. The guidance includes links to further detailed information and sources of advice and assistance.

Please continue to refer to this FAQs page and the latest official advice and guidance from the Public Health Agency (PHA).

Our Services

We are delivering most of our services remotely, and encourage you to contact us by phone, online, or through My Housing Executive, our tenant portal.

You can contact us online or on the following telephone numbers:

If you are a Housing Executive tenant, you can access information about your tenancy, and to contact us securely 24 hours a day through the My Housing Executive tenant portal.

In order to keep our customers and staff safe, access to our offices will be by appointment only.

To find out more about the phased reopening of our offices and what to do if you would like to make an appointment please read the ‘Will my local office be open?’ FAQ below.

There are a number of services that you can access from your home, including paying your bills and reporting repairs. You can find a list of our online services here.

If you are a Housing Executive tenant, you can access information about your tenancy and to contact us securely 24 hours a day through the My Housing Executive tenant portal.

We will only offer appointments for services that we cannot deliver online or over the phone. This means you will only be asked to visit one of our local offices if it is absolutely necessary.

If you are a tenant, we ask that you call our General Enquiries Line on 03448 920 900 to speak to your Patch Manager about your query in the first instance. If you are not sure who your Patch Manager is, we can put you in touch with them – all we need is your name and address.

If you are homeless, or wish to speak to someone regarding rehousing, you should ring our Homelessness Line on 03448 920 908 and ask to speak to a Housing Advisor in your local office.

If your Patch Manager or Housing Advisor is unable to help you over the phone or online, they will make an appointment for you to come in to speak to a member of our staff at one of our local offices.

Safety in our offices

If you are asked to attend an appointment in one of our offices, we ask that you come alone and wear a face covering (unless exempt).

You should not attend your appointment if you, or someone in your household, has coronavirus symptoms or has displayed symptoms in the last two weeks.

We have made changes to ensure that we can abide by social distancing guidelines and help keep you safe.

These include:

  • Limiting the number of customers in the local office at any one time

  • Observing a two metre distance to limit personal contact, indicated by floor markings in the office

  • Providing hand sanitiser for customers to use

  • Regular cleaning of all surfaces as well as the installation of plastic screens at our counters and interview rooms

Support from your home

We are delivering most of our services remotely, and encourage you to contact us by phone, online, or through My Housing Executive, our tenant portal.

Visit the Contact Us section of our website to find all our telephone numbers

To find out what services we provide online click here.

To register for our tenant portal My Housing Executive, click on ‘Register’ in the top right hand corner of this page.

You can call our General Enquiries line on 03448 920 900 and we can put you in touch with your Patch Manager. If you are not sure who your Patch Manager is, we can put you in touch with them – all we need is your name and address.

We are doing our best to deliver our normal repair service throughout the coronavirus pandemic. 

Unfortunately, there may be delays in the delivery of some services for a number of reasons including:

  • Works taking longer to complete as we take additional safety precautions in line with Public Health guidelines

  • Obtaining supplies of materials

  • Contractor resourcing issues due to staff having to self-isolate

We anticipate interruptions to our normal repair service at this time and thank you for your patience while we work through the backlog of repair work.

You can report all repairs by phone, text or online.

We also provide a 24/7 emergency repair service. The following are examples of emergency repairs:

  • Heating systems that have failed or if a household cannot heat water

  • Unsafe gas supplies/installation

  • Burst water pipes

  • Lack of electrical supply or unsafe electrics

  • People who have become stuck in an elevator

  • Blocked drains

  • Shower or bath not working (if it is the only one in the property)

All repairs can be reported:

  • Online

  • By calling us on 03448 920 901.

  • By text to 66644 starting your message with the word “Repair” and remembering to include your address.

  • On the new My Housing Executive tenant portal.

We are required to carry out an annual service and safety check of all gas appliances that we have installed in your home. This is a legal obligation that must be completed by all landlords in the UK. This is to help keep you safe and to ensure that the gas appliances are working efficiently.

Your safety is our top priority; this is why our contractor’s Gas Safe Engineers will follow the guidance recommended by the Health and Safety Executive when carrying out the work. This includes:

  • Sanitising their hands before, during, and after carrying out their work

  • Wearing suitable Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

  • Ensuring they stay at least two metres apart from anyone in the property

  • Sanitise the area they have been working at

Before our contractors visit your home to complete the gas safety check, they will send you a letter offering you an appointment. If this is not suitable you must contact the contractor on the telephone number provided on the letter to make alternative arrangements.

If you have any issues regarding your boiler or heating system you should ring our 24 hour Repair Line on 03448 920 901.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic we have followed advice from the Health and Safety Executive to ensure we keep our tenants safe. 

If a contractor is in your home they will:

  • Wash their hands before, during, and after carrying out their work

  • Wear suitable Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

  • Ensure they stay at least two metres apart from anyone in the property

  • Sanitise the area they have been working at

You should also take the following steps to protect yourself while the contractor or a member of our staff visits your home:

  • Open your front door and stand well back

  • Ensure everyone in your home stays at least two metres apart from the contractor or our member of staff

  • Open the window, if possible, in the room the contractor or our staff member is working in

If you do not wish to have our staff or contractors attend your home at this time, call us on 03348 920 901.

By taking these steps we all can continue to stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

For the latest information on our various grants, visit our COVID-19 Private Sector Grant updates.

Like many other organisations, the coronavirus pandemic is impacting on our ability to provide our full normal service.

We therefore may not be able to fully investigate your complaint at this time and may have to hold it until normal service resumes.

If you do need to make a complaint, you can do so here

Rent and Housing Support

If you are suffering from a loss of income and are worried about paying your rent, please be reassured that we will not be taking legal action to evict tenants where financial hardship is suffered as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

We are here to support you. If you have any concerns about your ability to pay your rent, please contact us as soon as possible.

Our staff can talk you through your situation, and the options available to you, including benefits, and other help and support you can access.

You can call our General Enquiries Line 03448 920 900 to chat to someone about your financial situation.

We also work with a wide range of organisations who offer:

  • Free and independent money and debt advice provided by Advice NI

  • Free Benefit Entitlement Checks, through the Make the Call service

The Consumer Council has also produced advice and information for Northern Ireland consumers who may be affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

If you are a tenant of one of our commercial properties, you can visit here for further information on advice and assistance.

If you are a tenant who has been affected by coronavirus, call us on 03448 920 900 to speak to your Patch Manager, who can provide you with relevant information and advice.

If you are currently receiving Housing Benefit, payments will continue as normal.

If you wish to inform us of a change in circumstances please use one of the following methods:

We would prefer that you do not post any documentation to us at this time, but you can:

Communication via email

We are keen to communicate with as many of our customers as possible via email.

This will allow us to contact you in a faster, more efficient way.

You can complete our online email capture form which will enable us to contact you by email in the future.

Universal Credit

If you need assistance with paying rent and are of working age you must apply for Universal Credit.

You can apply for Universal Credit on the nidirect website.

Please do not delay making an application for Universal Credit.

Housing Benefit

You can only make a new claim for Housing Benefit if you:

  • Have been placed in temporary accommodation by the Housing Executive
  • Live in supported accommodation (including sheltered housing for older people)
  • Are getting Severe Disability Premium (before the 27th January 2021) as part of a benefit you are claiming
  • Are of pensionable age (if you have a partner you both need to be of pensionable age to apply)

If you want to make a new claim you can do this by:

Communication via email

We are keen to communicate with as many of our customers as possible via email.

This will allow us to contact you in a faster, more efficient way.

You can complete our online email capture form which will enable us to contact you by email in the future.

If you’re living in privately rented accommodation, you could be entitled to additional help to pay your rent during the coronavirus pandemic. This is known as a Discretionary Housing Payment. This is an extra payment that helps cover your rent, on top of the housing costs element of Universal Credit or Housing Benefit.

You can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment by filling out a simple form on our website:
•    If you are receiving Universal Credit UC DHP Online form
•    If you are receiving Housing Benefit HB DHP online form

If you are eligible for Discretionary Housing Payment this will be paid to your landlord, usually 4 weeks in arrears.

13 week protection

If you are a new claimant of Universal Credit, you may be entitled to a 13 week protection.

This had previously only been available to Housing Benefit claimants.

You can be considered for the new 13 week protection rule if you meet the following criteria:

  1. There is a shortfall between the actual rent charged by your landlord and the rent (eligible rent / Local Housing Allowance) used to calculate the housing cost of your Universal Credit award; and

  2. You have recently lost your job or have been made temporarily redundant, or your income has significantly reduced; and

  3. You have not received Housing Benefit or the housing costs element of Universal Credit in the last 12 months.

If you meet the criteria for the 13 week protection rule, the shortfall between the rent charged by your landlord and the Local Housing Allowance for the area you live in, will be paid in full for the next 13 weeks.

You can contact us about Discretionary Housing Payment by calling our Housing Benefit Team on 03448 920 902.

We are currently dealing with a high volume of queries. We ask for your patience at this time and will come back to you as soon as possible.

Communication via email

We are keen to communicate with as many of our customers as possible via email.

This will allow us to contact you in a faster, more efficient way.

You can complete our online email capture form which will enable us to contact you by email in the future.

Homelessness

We are continuing to focus on ensuring resources are targeted to those in greatest need. 

We are working closely with our statutory partners and local homeless providers to ensure the protection of the most vulnerable.

You should seek, where it is possible and safe to do so, to continue to reside in your current accommodation, even in the short term. 

If this is not possible, and you are already homeless or worried about becoming homeless, please call our dedicated Homelessness line on 03448 920 908 as soon as possible. 

During normal working hours you will be referred to one of our Housing Advisors.

We also provide an emergency out-of-hours service after 5pm, at the weekend and on bank holidays, for those who have nowhere safe to stay, and require emergency accommodation. 

We continue to meet our statutory duties in the delivery of homelessness services, while implementing the latest government guidance on social distancing.

We are doing all that we can to ensure you can access the necessary advice and support and to ensure temporary accommodation is made available if required.

In these very challenging circumstances, we only have access to a limited supply of temporary accommodation and this may not be in your current area.

We will continue to explore a number of potential alternatives for temporary accommodation.

Plans are also being put in place to support those experiencing homelessness to self-isolate, if necessary.

Other Support

If you are vulnerable, there is a COVID-19 Community Helpline to help you to access information, advice, and support in relation to COVID-19. The helpline is operated by Advice NI staff and can be accessed free of charge by ringing 0808 802 0020.

You can also email covid19@adviceni.net or text ‘ACTION’ 81025.

If you are vulnerable or require additional support you can call your Patch Manager or local office on 03448 920 900, and you can be signposted to local services that can provide assistance.

For the latest information on coronavirus you should refer to the advice published by the Public Health Agency.


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