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:
 
Managing your health

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.

Repairs and maintenance

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

To help tackle the spread of the coronavirus and keep you safe, 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.

We are keeping under review what repairs we can carry out in line with the government’s longer-term lockdown exit strategy and advice from Public Health England. Although the government has lifted some restrictions, social distancing is still in place – and this is very hard to achieve when we come into your home.

So, for your safety and ours, we’re going to continue offering emergency repairs only for the time being. We’ll let you know when we have an update.

So, for now, please continue to get in touch only if your repair is an emergency.

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 help tackle the spread of the coronavirus and keep you safe, 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.

We are keeping under review what repairs we can carry out in line with the government’s longer-term lockdown exit strategy and advice from Public Health England. Although the government has lifted some restrictions, social distancing is still in place – and this is very hard to achieve when we come into your home.

So, for your safety and ours, we’re going to continue offering emergency repairs only for the time being. We’ll let you know when we have an update.

So, for now, please continue to get in touch only if your repair is an emergency.

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

Why aren't you offering a full repairs service again yet?

Although the government has lifted some restrictions, social distancing is still in place. As some of our operations involve working in close proximity to you and to each other, we must be sure we can do this safely before we resume operations.

This is particularly important for our repairs service, where we often need to come into your home. That’s why we’re going to continue offering emergency repairs only for the time being.

We’re also keeping our programme of planned remedial works under review for the same reason.

You cancelled 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.

We are keeping under review what repairs we can carry out in line with the government’s longer-term lockdown exit strategy and advice from Public Health England.

So, if we cancelled your appointment because it wasn’t an emergency, we kept your details on file and we’ll be in touch with you.

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 carry out a repair?

Our maintenance team are continuing to check 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. 

We’ll also ask you to stay in another room if possible while we work. Although the government has lifted some restrictions, social distancing is still in place – and this is very hard to achieve when we come into your home.

You stopped work on my building. When will the work start again?

We took the difficult decision to pause work on our construction sites and on most of our buildings where we were carrying out planned maintenance or rectifying defects. This was to comply with government restrictions and help tackle the spread of the coronavirus.

Keeping our customers and colleagues safe throughout the coronavirus outbreak is our top priority. We found it almost impossible for some of our colleagues and contractors to travel safely and to achieve social distancing when carrying out some inspections or work to buildings.

Unfortunately, this meant that you will have experienced a delay to work on your building. We’re sorry we had to stall this work, but we’re sure you will understand these are extraordinary circumstances.

With government restrictions now easing, we are considering how best we can resume this work in line with the government’s lockdown exit strategy and advice from Public Health England. Although the government has lifted some restrictions, social distancing is still in place – and this is very hard to achieve while we’re working.

We hope to have our teams back on site as soon as we can, where it’s safe to do so.

We wrote to residents living in affected buildings and to people who are waiting to move into one of our new homes. We’ll be back in touch again when we have an update.

I’m expecting a new kitchen, bathroom and windows. When will this work now happen?

We’re taking emergency repairs requests only at present. This is to help tackle the spread of the coronavirus and keep you safe.

Although the government has lifted some restrictions, social distancing is still in place – and this is very hard to achieve when we come into your home.

Unfortunately, this means we’ve had to pause any other maintenance or building work that doesn’t represent an immediate health and safety risk to you.

The only other exception is where we’re preparing vacant properties to offer to local councils and health authorities to free up hospital beds and help people in urgent need.

Pausing our non-emergency maintenance has created a backlog of work to be done now that government restrictions are lifting. We’ll now look to see what needs doing and how best to prioritise it. We’ll write to update you once we’ve completed this review.

Managing your estate

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

We’ve now resumed estate inspections on a limited basis, so we can make sure we’re keeping you safe. We won’t put you at risk – we’ll stick to social distancing rules as we go about this work.

You can help us by standing at least two metres away if you need to speak to us or by phoning or emailing your Property Manager instead. You can call our customer service centre if you don’t know who your Property Manager is.

Why have you closed play areas and outdoor gyms?

Throughout this pandemic, our number one priority has been the health and safety of our residents and staff. To continue to keep you safe, our play areas and outdoor gyms will remain closed until we are completely satisfied that all the necessary measures are in place to enable us to reopen them.

We appreciate how frustrating this must be for families and we don’t mean to add to the pressure you may already be facing as a result of this crisis.

Before we can reopen these facilities we need to carry out individual risk assessments in line with the latest government guidance. We anticipate that once these assessments are carried out, most play areas will require adaptations and tailored safety measures to be put in place.

We're currently developing plans to carry out this work, so we can safely reopen these facilities as soon as possible, but we do expect this to be a complex and lengthy process. We'll keep you updated on this as and when the situation changes.

Can I use the communal areas outside?

Yes, you are welcome to use the communal areas where you live. However, please remember to respect social distancing guidance.

Money advice

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.

Why have I had a letter from you about my arrears?

We’re sorry if you’ve had a letter from us that suggests possible future court action because you haven’t paid your rent. Please be assured that we won’t take court action for arrears during this period.

These messages are automated, and we’ve asked the company that sends them for us to stop them. Unfortunately because of the way the system works, we can’t stop them immediately, so some people will still receive a letter from us – every day, we check and call anyone who might have done.

However, if you have fallen behind on your rent and haven’t got in touch with us about it, we will carry on sending you texts or emails. This is because we think it’s important you know how your account stands – and that you can contact us for help if you need it.

We completely understand this is a difficult time for everyone now, so if you receive a reminder to pay, please get in touch as soon as you can. We can then put the best plan in place to help 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.

Will the coronavirus affect my service charge?

We are currently calculating the final service charge figures for the year 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020. As always, we’ll make any adjustments necessary to reflect the services you received over this period, although we won’t make adjustments for coronavirus. This is because we were able to provide a full range of services for all but the last few days of March 2020.

During lockdown, we continued to provide critical services to our buildings and estates. Where we weren’t able to carry out services during the earlier stages of lockdown, we are carrying out extra catch up works during June and July. So, please expect your final service charge statement for 2020/21 to show a full year’s worth of costs.

If any discount is due because of a reduction in services as a result of the coronavirus since April this year, it will show in your final 2020/21 statement next summer.

Why are you changing your compensation policy?

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.

Visiting or moving into L&Q buildings

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.

Who is allowed to visit me during lockdown?

The government’s guidelines say you must not have friends or family over if they don’t live in the same household as you. However, you can meet one other person not from your household outdoors, as long as you maintain social distancing.

Equally, you should not be going into the homes of family members or friends who don’t live with you.

Don’t forget, of course, that you can also keep in touch with people by phone or video calls.

You can also continue to help friends or relatives who are elderly or vulnerable by dropping shopping or medication at their door, for example. You can also help them to order online.

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.

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 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 has affected your plans to move.

For emergency moves into one of our rental properties, we’re carrying out as many viewings and sign-ups as possible virtually. Where that’s not possible, we’re offering viewings in person, but making sure we stick to social distancing guidelines. 

We’re now starting to consider how we might begin to offer a return to our normal service, including enabling mutual exchanges, and we’ll publish details when we have them.

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.

General advice

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’ve encouraged as many of our colleagues as possible to work from home, to reduce the likelihood of their coming into contact with the virus. This has helped us maintain our services to you.

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, for now, please continue to get in touch only if your repair is an emergency.

How will you keep me informed about your response to coronavirus?

We’ve emailed all residents we have contact details for and who have given us permission to email them. Please check your spam folder if you haven’t heard from us and think you’ve given us permission to contact you.

We plan to email residents every two or three weeks during the coronavirus outbreak, so you know what we’re doing to keep you safe and provide services at this time.

We’ve also texted residents whose mobile numbers we have and who have given us permission to get in touch with them by text.

We’ve called almost 12,100 of our older and more vulnerable residents to check they’re OK and find out if they need any support from us. Our Property Managers and caretakers have also put up posters on noticeboards as they go about their jobs too.

If you haven’t heard from us and you’d like to sign up for alerts from us, please get in touch. Just email us with your contact details – don’t forget to include your home address. Unless you say otherwise, we’ll then contact you by email and text in future, rather than by post.