Housing Updates

Update 31 August 2020

The Scottish Government have published an Icon for pdf open letter [152.99KB] to all Council, Housing Association and Housing Co-operative tenants to explain what support and services are available for tenants that are impacted by Covid-19.

Building Services 

Tenants can now report emergency and non- essential routine repairs via 01506 280000 and select option 1 for housing repairs and gas servicing.   You can also use our online option on our website www.westlothian.gov.uk.   Select the "Contact Us" option.

Building Services are continuing to contact those tenants who had already reported non- essential routine prior to lockdown and any follow- on repairs from our out off hours service during lockdown to determine if they still wish these repairs to go ahead. If so, these will be booked in and an appointment provided to tenants where appropriate.

On the 15 July the Scottish Government moved the construction restart model to phase 4. This allows construction works/activities, that were not previously permitted in previous phases, can now proceed with additional control measures in place, including additional measures to allow employees to close work in certain circumstances.

However, this will mean introducing new ways of working to keep tenants, our employees and contractors safe that includes additional personal protective equipment. As a result, it may take longer than usual to carry out more non-essential work.

We understand that some tenants may still be apprehensive about having people in their homes. We will only undertake routine and non-urgent work in your home if you are comfortable with this. If you would like to speak to our technical team regarding any queries or guidance on carrying out non-essential repairs or planned upgrades in your property then contact our Customer Service Centre on 01506 280000 and a member of the technical team will return your call.  

Building Services employees and contractors will continue to follow the strict guidelines and protocols from the Scottish Government and NHS Inform. Tenants will be asked to follow social distancing guidelines when Building Services employees, or our contractors visit your home. It is important that the guidance is appropriately followed by all to ensure everyone is kept safe.  

For more information on social distancing, visit NHS Inform

Gas Servicing

The latest guidance from the HSE states that Landlords have a duty of care to their tenants. This is a legal duty to repair and maintain gas pipework, flues and appliances in a safe condition, to ensure an annual gas safety check on each appliance and flue, and to keep a record of each safety check. During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, there is a balance between ensuring people, including the vulnerable, are protected from possibly fatal risks arising from carbon monoxide exposure or gas explosion, while doing what we can to protect people from COVID-19

Current guidance from HM Government states that work can still be carried out in people's homes where necessary, e.g. for reasons of safety, provided that the GOV.UK guidance on social distancing is followed. However, there may be some occasions where the gas service cannot go ahead and the council can delay completing the landlords' gas safety check i.e. if tenants are self- isolating. The council must arrange the gas service as soon as possible after the isolation period has ended.

If you are due a gas service Building Services will continue to notify you by letter or a phone call. If you receive a letter please contact our Customer Service Centre immediately on 01506 280000 to make an appointment or to discuss further.

Should there be a gas issue reported then gas repair engineers will be available to call back tenants to help identify any issue and, in some cases, identify a solution over the telephone.  Details of the gas maintenance work that the council is responsible for can be found on the Gas Servicing and Maintenance page.

A reminder that gas leaks are dealt with by Scottish Gas Network (SGN). Details of what you should do if you suspect a gas leak can be found on the Gas Escapes page.

Housing Capital Programme

Tenants will be notified by Building Services or our contractors on any start dates for these works    

New Housing Supply - all new build construction sites resumed from Monday 22 June   

Major Refurbishment/Major Elementary Upgrades - a number of roofing & roughcasting projects in the 2019/20 programme were left unfinished due to lockdown. Building Services have resumed these projects and will then continue to commence works on the 2020/21 approved programme. Note there may be occasions where access to your property will be required to test gas appliance flues or to install extractor fans in the kitchen or bathroom. The site supervisor will discuss this with tenants prior to commencing any works.  

Planned Programmes - works have resumed on our external painting, rainwater goods testing and inspections, fencing, common stair upgrades, common access door upgrades, one off replacement external doors and planned reactive works.

In this phase we will resume our window replacement, medical adaptations and kitchen and bathroom programmes from Monday 31 August 2020.

In this phase and due to the complexity and nature of the works our assisted decoration will be put on hold. A decision to resume this project will be taken at a later date.

Compliance - works have resumed on our external wall insulation, renewal of walls footpaths, compliance electrical periodic testing and smoke and heat detector upgrades

From Monday 31 August we will resume our central heating replacement programme.

Further updates will be provided as the Scottish Government approves further phases of the construction restart model.

 


Building Services Team 

Social distancing protects us all, including neighbours, friends and family. When you see people at the supermarket, or even outside while exercising, always stay at least two metres away.

This is the same if the council's Building Services team have to visit your home. It is important that the guidance is appropriately followed by all to ensure everyone is kept safe.  

For more information on social distancing, visit NHS Inform


Mutual Exchange Requests to be halted during COVID-19 outbreak

Given the current situation with Covid-19, Housing, Customer and Building Services are only carrying out the most critical visits at this time.

As a result the service will be unable to process any new request for Mutual Exchanges. All applications will be held until further notice.


Rent payment support for tenants

We are aware that our tenants may be concerned about their finances and ability to pay rent given the current situation with Covid-19.

We want to do all we can to support you at this time so if you are at all concerned about paying your rent, please do not hesitate to get in touch at: Contacting the Council

Please remember, you can pay you rent over the phone on 01506 282407 or Pay Online

For more information about paying your rent, please visit the Paying my Rent page.


Changes to Housing Options and Homeless service

The Housing Options Service provided by the council has been reduced due to the impact of Covid 19 following national guidelines. No face to face interviews will be carried out until further notice.

The following is now in place for people requiring urgent housing advice:

  • Anyone requiring to discuss emergency accommodation please contact: 01506 280000 (Monday to Thursday 08.30am to 5.00pm, Friday 08.30am to 4.00pm).  For the out of hours service please contact 01506 280000/0800 032 3450. 
  • For any urgent cases regarding: housing advice such as Notice to quits (NTQ), Notice to Leave (NTL) issues, please email: housingoptionsadvice@westlothian.gov.uk

These measures are in place on a temporary basis and will be kept under constant review to ensure a continued limited service is provided.


Landlord and Letting Agents

The Scottish Government has released a FAQs for private landlords and tenants given the situation with Covid-19. As you are aware, this is a rapidly evolving situation and the guidance will be updated as things change. Please see Gov.scot - Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for private landlords and letting agents

More information on service updates are available on our Private Landlords page.


Tenant participation moves online

In line with national health guidance in relation to the Coronavirus outbreak, all face to face tenant participation work with our tenants and our Housing Network has ceased until further notice. We are inviting tenants to take part in E-Participation via our Facebook Page (just search for West Lothian Tenant Participation) or email TP@westlothian.gov.uk