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Tower block residents and the COVID-19 pandemic

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Repairs

The Covid pandemic has been having an affect on some maintenance and repairs. Some local authority and housing association landlords are reporting a backlog of non-essential repairs.

Even during lockdown situations – maintenance workers are allowed to enter the common parts of buildings, and even individual flats to carry out essential repairs.

However, there may be longer delays than usual in getting non-essential repairs done, because workers at every stage of the process may be off sick or having to isolate. For the same reason, landlords may be prioritising urgent work above other maintenance.

If you are isolating, you may also have concerns about letting workers into your home.

Advice

Check these sources for the most up-to-date information:

Check the restrictions

What to do if your repairs are urgent

Contact your landlord to report the issue. You can also ask them for any guidance about waiting times.

Even in the strictest lockdown areas, maintenance workers can still attend emergencies such as leaks, heating failures and dangerous faults. 

What to do if you are worried about a safety issue

As well as attending emergencies, your landlord can, and should, still conduct routine but legally required tasks such as fire risk assessments.

If you are concerned about a safety issue, you should let your landlord know. You can also contact some of the bodies we mention in our Tools You Can Use section, such as a Law Centre, Environmental Health or the Housing Ombudsman.

Visit the website of whichever body you want to contact to see how COVID has affected their service.

Rent

What does the law say?

Many tenants are struggling to pay rent because of job cuts caused by lockdown, or inability to work because of illness.  The Coronavirus Act 2020 changed the law from 29 August 2020 so that landlords had to give more notice of eviction while the pandemic continues.

From 1 June 2021, notice periods must be at least 4 months in most cases, including where the tenant has less than 4 months’ rent arrears. From 1 August 2021, the notice period for cases where there are less than 4 months of unpaid rent, will further reduce to 2 months’ notice.

You landlord may also have systems in place to help you manage your rent payments during this exceptional time. 

Advice

Check these sources for the most up-to-date advice:

What to do if you are having problems with rent

Related guides

Image by Nicolas Nova - a broken window with cardboard over the missing pane Image by Nicolas Nova - a broken window with cardboard over the missing pane

Guide

My landlord isn’t making repairs

Your landlord should be keeping your tower block, and your flat, in good repair. If they do not, there are several things you can do.
A letter box. Image by Dele Oke A letter box. Image by Dele Oke

Tools you can use

Contacting your local councillor or MP

Your elected representatives, like MPs and Councillors, can help you with your housing issues. Here’s information on how to get in touch.
A towerblock that is not being kept in good repair A towerblock that is not being kept in good repair

Reference

What does disrepair mean?

‘Disrepair’ is the opposite of keeping a property in good condition. It means the landlord is allowing problems to develop, and not doing anything about it.  By law, your landlord must make sure that your residence is in a good state of repair. This includes: keeping the structure (walls, roof, floors etc) safe and sound. making […]

Tools you can use

Contacting Environmental Health

When should you contact the Environmental Health department?

Tools you can use

Contacting the Housing Ombudsman or SPSO

Find out what the Housing Ombudsman is, and how they can help when you have a dispute with your landlord.

Reference, Story

How can my local councillor help?

Anne Clarke is a councillor in the London Borough of Barnet. We ask her about her experiences in supporting residents in her area with housing and disrepair problems

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