COVID-19 FAQ's

Are Blackwood having a rent freeze like some mortgage companies?

Unfortunately, Blackwood is not able to this at this time. However, we’ve putting measures in place to support tenants through this difficult time:

  • Our Housing Teams will give advice on applying for benefits for tenants who have lost their job or had their income reduced.  We provide a dedicated advice and support service through Shelter Scotland and tenants facing financial distress should be encouraged to consent to a referral to Shelter
  • If tenants engage with us and make payments when they can towards rent and arrears, we will continue to review the rent account and have currently suspended any pursuing legal action where the rent arrears are in relation to COVID-19

My local council is giving rent free weeks, why aren’t Blackwood doing this?

We are aware of one council (who currently charge their rent over 11 months and give “rent free” weeks in July and December) who are bringing this forward to April.

This is not actually free but defers payment to later in the year. Blackwood do not have rent free periods and instead adjust our rent accordingly.

I’ve not lost my job, but my hours have been cut and I am concerned about the time it will take to get any Universal Credit (UC) and my arrears will increase.

We expect UC to take longer than usual to process and for the first payment to be received.  Providing you keep us up to date with the progress of your claim, we will not pursue you for arrears during this period.  We are monitoring the UC Portal regularly every day to ensure there are no delays in your claim.

We provide a dedicated advice and support service through Shelter Scotland and would encourage you to agree for a referral to be sent to Shelter. 

COVID-19 FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions for Tenants

Are Blackwood having a rent freeze like some mortgage companies?

Unfortunately, Blackwood is not able to this at this time. However, we’ve putting measures in place to support tenants through this difficult time:

  • Our Housing Teams will give advice on applying for benefits for tenants who have lost their job or had their income reduced.  We provide a dedicated advice and support service through Shelter Scotland and tenants facing financial distress should be encouraged to consent to a referral to Shelter
  • If tenants engage with us and make payments when they can towards rent and arrears, we will continue to review the rent account and have currently suspended any pursuing legal action where the rent arrears are in relation to COVID-19

My local council is giving rent free weeks, why aren’t Blackwood doing this?

We are aware of one council (who currently charge their rent over 11 months and give “rent free” weeks in July and December) who are bringing this forward to April.

This is not actually free but defers payment to later in the year. Blackwood do not have rent free periods and instead adjust our rent accordingly.

I’ve not lost my job, but my hours have been cut and I am concerned about the time it will take to get any Universal Credit (UC) and my arrears will increase.

We expect UC to take longer than usual to process and for the first payment to be received.  Providing you keep us up to date with the progress of your claim, we will not pursue you for arrears during this period.  We are monitoring the UC Portal regularly every day to ensure there are no delays in your claim.

We provide a dedicated advice and support service through Shelter Scotland and would encourage you to agree for a referral to be sent to Shelter. 

Why are Blackwood still providing a stair cleaning service? Surely this is not an essential service?

The Scottish Government has said some services can continue provided the contractors work in isolation and are provided with the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). We believe that in the current climate, it is important that we ensure cleanliness in all our common areas where possible.

If this is still provided at your development, we would ask you to observe the two-metre protocol when walking by the contractor, the same way you have been advised to do so with all people who are not part of your immediate family.

https://www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19/

The landscaping service has stopped or reduced; will I get a refund? 

We review all expenditure in relation to service charges on an ongoing basis.  It is not clear yet what level of works might be required to bring developments up to standard as work re-commences and therefore we are not adjusting service charges at this time. Any adjustments that are required will be taken into account as services return to normal.

My neighbour is behaving anti-socially, why are Blackwood not dealing with this in line with their procedures?

At this time, we ask people try to be more tolerant and understanding as everyone is under a lot of pressure. People are out of work or working from home and trying to come to terms with this. Understandably there may be more household noise as there are more people around the home.

Our Housing Officers are  working from home and while they are unable to make visits to tenants unless it is an emergency, we will attempt to contact your neighbour by telephone or letter. If the anti-social behavior continues, and is potentially criminal, you may wish to consider contacting the police on 101

https://www.scotland.police.uk/about-us/covid-19-policescotlandresponse/faqs-general

My neighbour had a party/friends over last night, surely that’s not in line with government social distancing rules, what is Blackwood going to do about this?

While this is not technically a breach of their tenancy agreement, please do contact us and we will contact your neighbor and ask them to stop.  We will also. contact the police on 101 to report this and we would encourage you to do the same.

https://www.scotland.police.uk/about-us/covid-19-policescotlandresponse/faqs-general

Should the lifts be used?

Lifts should only be accessed by individuals from the same household, due to the small space available. Please do not enter the lift if there is another individual inside, wait until this is free before entering. We understand that this may result in a longer wait, however, will enable you to maintain a safe social distance.

Will I still be able to get repairs carried out?

At the moment we are only able to carry out emergency repairs and this will continue whilst the country is in lockdown. Once this restriction is removed, we will gradually return to our normal level of service. 

What if I am self-isolating or someone in my home has the virus?

Please let your Housing Officer know when the symptoms started and when you have recovered.  We will assess all emergency repairs on a case by case basis should your household be self-isolating.

Will my annual gas safety check still be carried out?

Blackwood has a legal duty to carry out a gas safety check on all gas installations within 12 months of the previous check.

Advice provided by Gas Safe and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on 25 March is this legal requirement does not change at this time. The engineers will follow the guidance in relation to not coming within 2 meters of residents, wearing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), handwashing and wiping down surfaces where they are working. If you or a member of your household is shielding, or symptomatic of COVID19, they will not carry out this visit.  We will keep a record of this and stay in contact to arrange a visit as soon as it is safe to do so. 

https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/help-and-advice/covid-19-advice-and-guidance/landlords/

We will still write to you if your gas service is due. If you have any concerns, are self-isolating or have any symptoms please contact us and we will agree with you the best course of action.

To learn more about the process we will follow for gas safety checks find out more here: https://www.blackwoodgroup.org.uk/gas-safety-checks-covid-19/ 

My bins are full, and someone has dumped items at the close door.  The council has suspended some collections, what can Blackwood do about it?

Many local councils have changed their services and have closed their recycling/refuse sites. We are looking at ways we can help during lockdown, however, given some refuse sites are closed, disposing of this remains a challenge.  As our grounds maintenance contractors return to work, we will ask them to do this if they can. Please contact your Housing Officer if you feel that any items that have been dumped and pose a health & safety risk.

Will our Housing Officer still be visiting the development?

Our Housing and Asset Officers will only attend properties and developments where there is an emergency.  These visits could be, but are not limited to, viewings and sign ups of properties where this enables a customer to be discharged from hospital, fire alarm testing etc.  Any visits are assessed on a case by case basis.

Our Housing Teams are currently contacting all tenants to ensure their health & wellbeing and will continue to regularly contact vulnerable tenants to provide support, advice and guidance.  We are also rolling out our CleverCogs technology to our vulnerable customers to help support them in this time.  We will arrange for remote digital skills training to support you to use it. 

We will signpost tenants to other agencies that can help e.g. online food shopping, food banks, volunteering opportunities, mental health services etc. 

Staff are making additional calls to any tenants who have requested this.

I am in the process of terminating my tenancy, where do I return the keys to?

Your Housing Officer will give you directions to a key safe near or on your property and you will be given a code.

Alternatively, you can post your keys (recorded delivery) to your Regional Office.

I am due to move out, but I cannot take my rubbish to the tip or clear out items of furniture I don’t want to take with me. I know I will be recharged for anything I leave that needs to be uplifted. What do I do?

Within the current circumstances, we won’t recharge you for this type of situation, but you must be aware any items left will be disposed of and, once your tenancy ends, you cannot ask for these items to be returned. Please do not put these items in the street. 

If you have moved to another property and are unable to clear out your tenancy due to the restrictions but would like to take items with you, please get in touch with your Housing Officer to advise.  We will keep in touch with you on a regular basis and agree a timescale for removal of any items once restrictions on movement have been lifted.

I’ve been offered a property, but I have not been able to view the property.  Will I still be able to view the property once the stay at home restrictions have been amended or lifted?

Yes.  Your Housing Officer will continue to monitor any offers of Housing and extend the time, for you to accept or decline, until you can safely view the property.  Blackwood are currently honoring all offers that have been made.  In some circumstance we may be able to let the property if it has been viewed and this is being considered on a case by case basis

I signed a tenancy agreement shortly before the lockdown.  I have been unable to move in.  What will happen with the rent that is due as I am in receipt of benefits and have no savings to pay the rent.

Please get in touch with your Housing Officer as soon as you can if you have not yet moved in to advise.  If you have not yet advised your local Council and/or DWP please do this now and advise it is due to COVID-19.  We can then put you in touch with Shelter who can support you with any applications for Housing Benefit or Housing Costs via UC.  

WIFI was installed at my development in December.  I didn’t want a tablet, but I have now changed my mind.  Can I still get one?

Yes!  We would be delighted to help you get set up with a tablet and CleverCogs.  We can also provide you with digital skills to help you get set up quickly.

WIFI was due to be installed at my development in May.  Will this still go ahead and if not does that mean I can’t get a tablet?

Unfortunately, the installation of WIFI at our developments has been suspended.  We will restart this as soon as the Government restrictions have been lifted.  In the meantime, please contact your Housing Officer and we can arrange for you to receive a tablet.  We will also guide you about other means of accessing WIFI and support you with any advice about using your tablet.

What happens if I have to report a repair?

Blackwood are currently only carrying out emergency repairs, this is due to the spread of COVID-19 and for the safety of our staff and contractors throughout this lockdown. 

Do I need to contact Blackwood if I self-isolate?

Yes, it is important that we know if any of our customers have or suspect they have COVID-19. This allows us to support our employees and contractors to make sensible decisions about home visits. It also allows us to identify customers who are vulnerable, so you get the support you need.

Anyone developing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, however mild, should stay at home for 7 days from the onset of symptoms. It is now recommended that anyone living in the same household as a symptomatic person should self-isolate for 14 days. 

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are recent onset of:

  • new continuous cough and/or

  • high temperature

Our advice is that we must suspend non-essential visits until you are well again to avoid infecting others but please do feel free to keep in contact with us.

What is Blackwood’s advice if I have problems paying rent?

Currently we provide a dedicated welfare advice and support service through Shelter Scotland for any tenant who needs support to budget or claim benefits. You still have full access to this service, if for example you need advice on sick pay, or are struggling with rent payments because of your employment situation. Contacting us early is the best thing to do in these circumstances.

You can contact the confidential financial support service on 0808 800 4444 or read more at https://www.blackwoodgroup.org.uk/rents/

Frequently Asked Questions for Care Customers

When will my family and friends be able to visit me at the care home where I live?

On Thursday 25th June the Scottish Government announced that visits to people living in care homes by their family and friends could resume from Friday 3rd July, which is great news. The Government has also issued guidance to all care homes about the arrangements that need to be put in place to  keep care home residents, their visitors and staff safe and reduce the risk of anyone being infected with Covid-19. We are now developing our own procedures for visits to care homes and will make these available to everyone living in our care homes and their families early in the week beginning 29th June 2020.

You can now access our Care Home Visitors Protocol here: Care Home Visiting Protocol.pdf [pdf] 186KB

Will my care at home visits still go ahead?

Yes, they will carry on as normal unless you develop symptoms of COVID-19 in which case see question 3 below. If you do develop symptoms, you will need to begin a period of self-isolation.

If a significant number of our Support Workers become ill or have to self-isolate, we might have to restrict visits to essential tasks only for a period of time. If you have CleverCogs we may also be able to support you by video link. We will keep you informed if this is the case.

Do I need to contact Blackwood if I self-isolate?

Yes, it is important that we know if any of our customers have or suspect they have COVID-19. This allows us to support our employees to make sensible decisions about home visits. It also allows us to identify customers who are vulnerable, so you get the support you need.

If I have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have symptoms but have not been diagnosed, will I still receive care at home from Blackwood?

Anyone developing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, however mild, should stay at home for 7 days from the onset of symptoms. It is now recommended that anyone living in the same household as a symptomatic person should self-isolate for 14 days. 

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are recent onset of:

  • new continuous cough and/or
  • high temperature

If you are diagnosed as having COVID-19 or have the symptoms but have not been diagnosed and have not been admitted to hospital, we will carry out a risk assessment to identify the ways in which the  care you receive needs to change to protect both you and our staff who are supporting you. This will include providing our staff with the right Personal Protective Equipment such as masks, gloves and aprons. We will also help to ensure you have basic supplies and check on you by phone or video link regularly. Your local GP surgery should provide medical support during this time.

I have an illness or condition that means I am at very high risk of severe illness from COVID-19, will I still receive care at home from Blackwood?

Yes, we will continue to support anyone who has been notified that they are at a very high risk of severe illness from COVID-19, but we will need to carry out a risk assessment to identify any ways in which the care you receive needs to change to protect both you and our staff who are supporting you. This will include providing our staff with the right Personal Protective Equipment such as masks, gloves and aprons. If you have CleverCogs we will also be able to support you by video link.