Coronavirus

Contents:

Housing and rent

Getting help with your rent

Universal Credit

Most working-age residents will need to claim Universal Credit for help with their rent. 

If you are unable to make a claim online, or require any help to claim, you can contact Citizens Advice on their website or phone 0344 477 0808

Please be aware that you will need to apply for Council Tax Support if you have made a claim for Universal Credit.

Housing Benefit

If you are a pensioner, or meet certain other conditions, then you can make a claim for Housing Benefit.

If you cannot make an online claim, please contact our Revenues and Benefits team by phone 01279 446633 or email hdc.benefits@harlow.gov.uk

Current Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants

If you have your rent paid by Universal Credit, then you can report a change of circumstances by signing in to your Universal Credit account

If you are currently receiving Housing Benefit, you can report a change of circumstances to us

You can also find more information on additional support

Council housing

No council tenants in Harlow will face eviction proceedings as a result of housing rent or garage arrears while the coronavirus situation continues.

If you are concerned about your council rent, you can call us on 01279 446655.

Housing Officers are continuing to carry out their duties as far as they are able, including dealing with tenants reports of antisocial behaviour, urgent housing repair issues and other tenancy enquiries. 

Rent Officers are providing support to tenants who are having difficulties paying their rent, including agreeing realistic repayments to address any arrears and signposting tenants to advice agencies. 

Fire safety inspections have restarted and compliance works to homes are still being carried out to protect the safety of tenants.

Repairs

We are working with HTS to make sure we are still offering a service for emergency repairs. This includes all emergency heating, hot water and plumbing issues.

To report an emergency repair, you need to call the repairs centre on 01279 446666.

You will need to:

  • let us know if anyone in your household is self-isolating because of coronavirus
  • let the repairs operative in the house and keep 2 metres away at all times
  • explain the problem to the operative and which room it is in
  • keep yourself and any other members of your household in a separate room to the room with the repair

It is really important you maintain social distancing – if you do not, the operative will not carry out the repair and will have to leave.

The operative will:

  • let you know when the repair is finished and make sure the room is safe before leaving
  • follow government guidance on social distancing, cleanliness and self-isolation
  • be wearing disposable or cleanable gloves when they enter the property 
  • wipe down the area they are working on before starting work where possible,  and wipe down any areas they have had contact with once the work is completed
  • not touch their face and may use facemasks or safety glasses if they think they are needed
  • complete the work safely
  • clean their hands and face after leaving your house – ideally using water and soap, but may use wipes or hand sanitiser if this is not possible, before going to the next property 

We are keeping this service under review to make sure it is in line with any government guidelines or instructions.

Council housing applications and allocating houses

We are now accepting new applications for council housing. You can read more on our council housing page

If you have an offer or are waiting to collect keys, you will not lose your property, it will be saved for you for a later date. 

We are prioritising allocating homes for homeless households and those in needs of housing – including anyone sleeping rough.

Allocations will gradually restart on a phased basis, once the latest government guidance has been fully reviewed.

We understand that some applicants may be anxious at this time about moving and we do not want to put added pressure on people if they are not ready or able to do so.

We will start with applicants that have been offered and accepted properties prior to the lockdown and those that had been offered properties but had not had an opportunity to view. 

The following phase will focus on direct offers to those applicants that require a settled housing solution due to harassment or are currently in emergency accommodation and are unable to return to their homes.

Following this, the advertising of homes for bidding will restart, but the number of homes will be limited each week.

Surrendering keys

If you need to hand in keys for a property or garage, call us on 01279 446655.

Mutual exchanges

We have started to accept mutual exchange applications again on phased basis - so applications may take longer than normal. You can read more on our mutual exchange page

Council leaseholders

We want to reassure you we can support you with your leaseholder-related bills.

We will not be invoicing leaseholders for any new major works until July and any work to recover outstanding major works bills is now on hold until July. If you are currently struggling to pay bills you can also apply for help, which could include deferring service charges or major works loans for up to 3 months.

If you decide to take up this support it does mean that at the end of deferral period, payments will resume and will be recalculated over the rest of the financial year (up to 31 March 2021). Monthly payments will increase due to the fewer number of months remaining. 

If you would like to apply for support please contact us by email at homeownership@harlow.gov.uk or telephone us on  01279 446206.

Homelessness

Our current homelessness process is continuing as normal, see our help if you are homeless page for information.

We are working with Streets2Homes and a local letting agent to encourage those sleeping rough in Harlow to move into accommodation.