Leeds City Council has announced it has suspended home visits for council housing tenants unless in the event of an emergency, writes Richard Beecham.
It added that staff conducting emergency repairs on self-isolating households would be asked to wear ‘protective equipment’ to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The authority also announced housing officers have been advised not to pursue any tenants for rent arrears due to hardship caused to many by coronavirus and self-isolation. Council evictions planned for next week, which are unrelated to the covid-19 outbreak, will also be postponed.
A statement from Leeds City Council read:
“We are no longer conducting home visits in relation to annual home visits or rent, the vast majority of which can be substituted by phone contact.
“Phone contact will be the preferred method of speaking to tenants in all instances. Where this is not possible and contact is important, we will be ascertaining whether a resident is self-isolating due to symptoms or heightened vulnerability before a visit goes ahead.”
If tenants were self-isolating, only emergency visits are set to take place, with all ‘necessary health and safety precautions’ in place. Those who are not self-isolating or considered to be vulnerable will see visits go ahead, they will be subject to ‘social distancing’.
In relation to property works, it added:
“All tenants who request a repair will be asked if they are in isolation. If so, only emergency repairs will be undertaken, with staff in protective equipment.
“If tenants request a repair who are not in isolation, repairs will be undertaken as our resources allow, with social distancing measures in place, asking people to stay in another room, whilst the work is undertaken.”
Officers have also been advised not to pursue any tenant for arrears following hardship caused to them during the coronavirus outbreak.
The council added:
“All possession action has been temporarily suspended. Evictions due to long standing rent arrears, which were not related in any way to the outbreak, will not go ahead next week.
“We always strive to work with our customers in a sympathetic way, and we are putting a particular focus on this during the current circumstances.”
The authority said it could not say how long measures would be in place, and were awaiting further advice from government.