Help and advice

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about how we’re maintaining our services and helping keep you safe, reassured and informed at this time:

Do I need to tell L&Q if I’m ill or self-isolating?

You don’t need to let us know if we’re not due to come into your home, unless you think there is a risk to your neighbours or to our colleagues.

However, if you book an emergency repair with us and are ill or self-isolating, please let us know. We’ll put special measures in place to get your repair done. Our maintenance team will wear special protective clothing to be able to carry out the work urgently.

If for any reason this isn’t possible, we’ll talk to you about whether there’s another way we might be able to gain access and sort the issue.

What repairs will you carry out in my home at the moment?

To comply with the government restrictions and tackle the spread of the coronavirus, we’re taking emergency repairs requests only at present. If you have an emergency repair, please call our customer service centre on 0300 456 9996.

Here’s what we mean by emergency repairs in your home:

  • where there is no heating in your home
  • where your home has no hot water or no water at all
  • where there is no electricity to your home or kitchen
  • where harm to you or damage to your home is likely, such as an uncontainable water leak, serious damage to a roof or a WC that is leaking or can’t be flushed with a bucket or bowl
  • where there is a security risk to your home and no other way in or out
  • where a lift in your home isn’t working

What repairs will you carry out in communal areas at the moment?

To comply with the government restrictions and tackle the spread of the coronavirus, we’re taking emergency repairs requests only at present. If you have an emergency repair, please call our customer service centre on 0300 456 9996.

Here’s what we mean by emergency repairs to communal areas:

  • broken or damaged doors and windows
  • damaged sockets and switches
  • uncontainable water leaks or blocked drainage or gutters leaking into communal areas
  • dangerous lighting, flooring or bannisters
  • communal heating systems
  • lifts 
  • fire systems, such as fire alarms, automatic opening vents, mechanical vents and sprinklers
  • cold water booster pumps
  • warden call
  • door entry and access control
  • security access gates
  • central ventilation

If you cancel my repair appointment, when will my new one be?

We're doing all we can to keep our residents safe and our services up and running as best we can during this difficult time.

So, if we’ve cancelled your appointment because it’s not an emergency, we’ll keep your details on file. Then we’ll contact you again to make an appointment once we’re able to resume our normal repairs service.

Why are you still carrying out gas safety checks at this time?

Our top priority is to keep you safe – and as your landlord, we have a legal responsibility to carry out a full gas safety check every 12 months. If we don’t carry out this work during the coronavirus outbreak, it could put your safety at risk.

Our contractors will contact you to book an appointment. They’ll ask if anyone in your home is unwell, self-isolating or has any concerns about the inspection being carried out. If so, we’ll get back in touch at a later date to arrange a new appointment.

On the day of your appointment, our engineers will ask the same questions to make sure there’s been no change.

When they’re working in your home, they’ll wear protective clothing, such as face masks and gloves, and ask you to stay in another room, if possible, while they work. This is to protect them and you as they go about their work.

Once they’re done, they’ll use wipes to clean any surfaces.

We’re doing all we can not to put you at risk – our gas contractors provide daily reports on any engineers who are self-isolating or unwell. We won’t send anyone we know is unwell into your home.

How can I be sure your maintenance team won’t infect me when they come and carry out a repair?

Our maintenance team are checking in daily to confirm they feel fit to work. We won’t send a colleague we know is unwell into your home.

When they’re working in your home, you’ll probably notice that they’re wearing protective clothing, such as face masks and gloves. This is to protect them and you as they go about their work.

What is L&Q doing to manage the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on colleagues and residents?

We've set up a crisis response team to help us make sure we continue to offer services effectively during the coronavirus outbreak.

We have tried-and-tested plans in place, which are modelled on how we work during the winter, when staff sickness and demand for repairs are at their highest. We check every day if and how many of our colleagues are off work, so that we offer the best service we can at any time.

However, if you’re thinking of contacting us about a repair that isn’t an emergency, please wait until things get back to normal to let us know.

In the meantime, we’re encouraging as many of our colleagues as possible to work from home, to reduce the likelihood of their coming into contact with the virus. This will help us maintain our services to you.

How will you keep our communal areas clean and grounds tidy?

We’re working hard to maintain our estate and caretaking services. Our caretakers and contractors are continuing to visit schemes as normal, but they’re focusing on critical services, such as:

  • cleaning door handles, lifts and handrails
  • clearing up broken glass and fluids
  • collecting and cleaning bins
  • reporting bulk rubbish for removal

This work is considered critical by the government, as it prevents a build-up of germs and, ultimately, helps keep you safe.

Unfortunately, we’ve had to suspend the regular estate inspections that your Property Manager carries out. These are usually done monthly, to check on standards and to raise any communal repairs.

Our caretakers and contractors will continue to report any emergency repairs or health and safety issues they come across. Please help us by contacting your Property Manager directly with any concerns.

You can also protect yourself and your neighbours by washing your hands before and after touching handrails, doors and entry and exit buttons.

Why have you closed play areas and outdoor gyms?

We’re sorry, but due to government advice on social distancing, we’ve closed our play areas and outdoor gyms till further notice. This is to help keep you and your children safe.

We’re focusing on critical services at this difficult time and we simply can’t keep play areas and outdoor gym surfaces free from germs. We hope you understand.

I can’t work because of the coronavirus. What help can I get?

The government has changed benefit entitlement rules to help more people access support and access it sooner. So, if you can’t work because of coronavirus, you may be able to claim benefits – or more benefit if you already receive some help.

The changes include:

  • making it possible for more people to get statutory sick pay
  • removing the waiting period before people can claim Employment Support Allowance
  • enabling more people to be able to claim Working Tax Credit and Universal Credit (from April)

More Housing Benefit will also be available for some people who live in homes they rent privately. This could include people who live in our private rental homes or who pay us Intermediate Market Rent.

You can find more information on the government’s website and on the Citizens Advice website.

We can provide advice, support and guidance to you during this time. This can include supporting you to claim benefits you’re entitled to or putting payment plans in place for when you’re back in work.

We also work closely with Pound Advice, who offer help and support for our residents in financial difficulty. If you need their help with your finances, please contact them directly:

Can I take a payment holiday?

The government has increased the financial support available to people whose incomes are affected by the coronavirus and has changed the law temporarily to help tenants in particular. This isn’t by allowing rent holidays, but instead by preventing landlords from evicting tenants who fall behind on their rent.

This means you still need to pay your rent. We ask that you please continue to do this as normal for as long as you can. Your rent helps us fund essential frontline services.

We know that some residents may need financial help at the moment. If this applies to you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch – we’ll do everything we can to support you. We can provide advice, support and guidance. This can include putting special payment plans in place to help if you need it or supporting you to claim the financial support that’s available.

We also work with the Pound Advice service, which provides telephone and face-to-face debt and financial advice.

Please rest assured that even if you fall behind on your rent at this difficult time, we won’t start court action against you.

If I can’t pay my rent because of coronavirus, is my home at risk?

No – we won’t take legal action for arrears during this time.

Please let us know if you’re experiencing financial difficulty resulting from the impact of the coronavirus and it’s affecting your ability to pay your rent. We’ll do our best to help you.

If you can, please continue to pay your rent as normal. It helps us fund the essential frontline services our residents need.

Why is my rent going up at this time?

We’re sorry about the timing of the changes, but 1 April is the date that rents change every year. It’s unfortunate that this happens to fall during this especially difficult period.

We follow rules set by the government to calculate any changes to your rent each year. We’ve cut rents each year for the past four years, so this is the first time we’ve increased your rent in five years.

We first wrote to residents to let you know about these changes in February. The average rise for an L&Q resident is around £4 a week.

This extra payment means we can continue to provide essential services to you right now and deliver important work, such as our fire safety programme. Plus, over the longer term, it means we can invest in our homes, estates and communities.

Some residents will also have received service charge estimates for the year recently. These are for services we provide, including the critical services that we are making every effort to continue to provide to you at this time. Of course, at the end of the financial year, as usual, we’ll look at exactly what we provided and issue you a credit, if necessary.  

We’re sorry if the rise comes at a bad time for you. If you’re worried about paying your rent or service charges during this period, please contact us as soon as you can.

Are your offices still open?

Our head office in Stratford and our offices in Sidcup and Slough are open, though we’ve had to close our reception areas in these three offices. Most of our people are now working from home and we’re offering telephone appointments where possible.

Unfortunately, we’ve closed our other offices until further notice.

Please contact our customer service centre on 0300 456 9996 if you need us.

Are your marketing suites still open?

For the very latest information on our service to you if you’re looking to buy a home, please visit the coronavirus section of our LQ Homes website.

Can I move into an L&Q home?

If you’ve bought a new home from us – which is vacant and ready to move into – we’re still booking in move-in dates. Our sales team will arrange getting your keys to you safely. Please visit the coronavirus section of our sales website for more information.

We’re now offering as many of our vacant rental properties as possible to local councils and health authorities to help free up hospital beds and help those in urgent need.

We’re sorry if this affects your plans to move. We hope you understand.

We have some vacant homes listed on Rightmove and Zoopla for sale and for rent at market rates. These homes are still available and we’re carrying out virtual viewings and arranging to hand over keys safely. Right now, though, we’re giving priority on our rental homes to key workers and people who are between homes because of the coronavirus situation.

We hope to be able to help as many people as possible to continue to move, so please get in touch as we’ll review on a case-by-case basis.

We’re following government guidance closely on this and we may have to cancel move-in plans at the last minute based on new guidance or instruction.

Can I still visit my relatives and friends in L&Q care schemes?

We’re following government advice, which says that people should avoid visiting friends and relatives in care homes, in a bid to slow down the spread of coronavirus.

So, we’re sorry, but we’d ask friends and relatives not to visit our care homes for now, unless you feel staying away would impact negatively on your loved one’s wellbeing.

Why are you stopping compensation payments?

We’re sorry if we’ve not given you the service you would normally expect of us. Usually, we would consider offering compensation in such cases. However, we’re facing serious challenges because of the coronavirus, so for the time being, we’ll offer compensation in fewer cases than before.

Now, we’ll compensate customers where we’re legally obliged to and in a few other special cases. These special cases are where:

  • we may offer some discretionary compensation when there’s been an issue in our sales or development functions not related to coronavirus that is affecting customers’ daily lives 
  • we’ll pay residents who need rehousing but who can find their own temporary accommodation £250 a week
  • we’re reimbursing a customer for costs they’ve incurred because of our mistake, such as if we set up a bank direct debit incorrectly and are asked to cover bank charges

Normally, we would also offer discretionary payments to say sorry when we don’t get things right. However, although we’re doing our best, we can’t deliver our usual level of service at the moment.

We’re very sorry about this and we’ll do our utmost to resolve any issues as quickly as we can.