A list of the most up-to-date government advice for housing providers regarding the coronavirus outbreak. This guide will be updated every day
Page last updated at 08.24am on 31.03.20
The government has published guidance for private and social landlords covering possession proceedings, rent arrears and property access during the crisis, as well as some associated issues.
It calls for landlords and tenants to reach agreements over rents and says access to properties should be restricted to “serious and urgent” repairs issues. It also says that landlords’ obligations on repairs have not changed.(published 28 March).
Local authorities have also been issued with new guidance covering the enforcement of standards in the rented sector during the outbreak. They have been told to take a pragmatic approach and assess all issues in line with the risk. In particular, on gas and electrical checks, they have been reminded that where landlords have taken all reasonable steps to carry out checks they are not in breach of the law.
The Welsh government has provided guidance specifically for social landlords, which can be found here. It includes advice on what to do if a tenant has a confirmed case of coronavirus (published on 13 March).
The Scottish government’s guidance for social landlords can be found here. It advises landlords on how and when to carry out repairs, as well as what to do if there is a significant disruption to service delivery (published on 18 March).
The guidance on shielding an estimated 1.5 million people with specific health conditions is available here (updated on 30 March).
Possession and evictions
From 27 March, the courts have suspended all ongoing housing possession action for an initial period of 90 days. This means new cases, as well as those already in the system, cannot result in an eviction. Technical guidance on evictions is available here. Further guidance on seeking possession is available below.
(Last updated on 27 March)
This measure will not apply to tenants in Scotland and Northern Ireland. However, the Scottish government has confirmed that it will take action against social landlords who evict tenants as a result of financial hardship due to coronavirus. Read the Scottish government’s statement here.
The National Housing Federation (NHF) has published information on what housing associations have been doing in response to the outbreak and what the priorities are. Included in the briefing note is the NHF’s key ask from government. The full publication can be found here (published on 24 March).
The Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations has published a coronavirus FAQs page aimed at housing association tenants, workers and sector partners, which can be found here.
The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations regularly publishes briefings on a variety of coronavirus-related issues, which can be found here.
Community Housing Cymru have a list of coronavirus resources for Welsh housing associations, which can be found here.
Residential care and supported living
This guidance from Public Health England is for operators of registered residential care and nursing homes, including for people with learning disabilities, mental health problems and/or other disabilities.
It sets out advice on how to keep services running, including sharing of the workforce between providers and the deployment of volunteers. It also contains guidance on what to do if staff members contract the virus, alongside advice on reviewing visiting policies.
Last updated on 19 March
The Care Quality Commission, which regulates the care sector, wrote to providers on 16 March, available here, announcing a halt to routine inspections and a shift towards more remote measures.
It has since published updated guidance which includes a special COVID-19 framework for providers of health and social care. Information on the framework can be found here.
Additional advice for care providers is available from the Social Care Institute for Excellence website here.
This separate piece of guidance is aimed at providers of care and support delivered in an individual’s home.
It lays out steps that can be taken to keep services running, alongside advice on what to do if someone in supported living has symptoms of the virus. This includes information on personal protective equipment, cleaning and laundry.
Last updated on 19 March
Around the UK
The Scottish government has provided guidance for social or community care and residential settings here. It includes information on cleaning, visitors and caring for someone with the virus (published on 23 March).
The Welsh government’s guidance for social or community care and residential settings can be found here. It includes information on how to provide care to individuals who are self-isolating (published on 9 March).
Northern Ireland’s government has now published guidance for its domiciliary care providers, which can be found here. It includes information about planning and preparation for the outbreak, supply of PPE equipment and advice for care workers concerned about the disease (published on 17 March).
The Northern Irish government has also published advice for nursing and residential care providers, which can be found here. This includes guidance on infection control and advice about visitations to care homes (published on 17 March).
The National Fire Chiefs Council has published updated guidance on the provision of ‘waking watches’, which is available here.
The government has also confirmed that workers providing a waking watch can be considered key workers. It has also said that the remediation of buildings with fire safety defects is considered “critical” and can continue during the lockdown.
Last updated on 27 March
It has said these measures will be kept under “constant review”.
Buying and selling homes
The government has advised home buyers and renters to delay moving into a new house while measures are in place to fight coronavirus. This includes where contracts have been exchanged if the property is currently occupied.
The guidance states that there is no need to pull out of transactions but both parties should agree a new move-in date unless the property is empty. There is an exemption for “critical home moves”, in the event that a new date is unable to be agreed.
Last updated on 27 March
The Housing Ombudsman has issued guidance for landlords on complaints handling during the coronavirus, including arrangements for information requests and implementing its orders.
This guidance is from the Department for Work and Pensions and it covers the entire UK. It includes advice on how to claim benefits during the outbreak, both if you are an existing claimant or if you need to submit a new claim. People claiming benefits no longer have to attend the job centre in person for the next three months.
Guidance is also given with regards to statutory sick pay, from both an employee and an employer perspective.
Tenants and residents
A range of advice, including on rent payments, is available from the Citizens Advice website here.
Government advice to tenants was published on 28 March.
Employers and businesses
This guidance is from Public Health England and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. It includes advice for employers on what to do if an employee suspects they have the virus and has recently been in the workplace, including advice on cleaning.
It also provides information for businesses that are paying sick pay, as well as outlining some of the financial packages the government has provided to help struggling businesses and employees. The government has committed to bringing forward legislation to allow small and medium-sized businesses to reclaim statutory sick pay paid to employees because of the virus. This will cover the entire UK but employers must maintain records of staff absences.
Last updated on 26 March
Welsh government guidance for businesses and employers can be found here and includes similar advice to that laid out by Public Health England (published on 11 March).
The Scottish government has published general advice for non-healthcare businesses, which can be found here (published on 23 March).
Advice for people with disabilities
The government confirmed on 25 March that disability benefit reviews and reassessments have been suspended for three months amid the coronavirus crisis.
Homelessness and rough sleeping services
Homelessness minister Luke Hall has written to council leaders setting out the government’s strategy for rough sleepers during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the actions it expects local authorities to take. As of 26 March, the government has adopted an ‘everyone in’ approach, which seeks to provide shelter for everyone on the streets, including space for them to self-isolate, in order to help reduce transmission of the disease.
Last updated on 27 March
Hostels or day centres for people sleeping rough
Public Health England and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government have replaced previously issued guidance for rough sleeper hostels and day centres with a holding statement.
“Public Health England will be issuing updated guidance for those working with people who are experiencing rough sleeping and living in hostel environments as soon as possible,” the statement reads.
Last updated on 25 March
Domestic abuse safe accommodation
This guidance is for providers of accommodation for domestic abuse survivors and their families. It includes information on what to do if a resident becomes unwell within shared accommodation and advice on how to manage staffing levels. Also included are links to information about how to manage mental health (published on 23 March).
The English Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) has asked not be sent anything by post because of limited access to its offices. Instead, it should be contacted by phone or email. If a document needs to be sent to the organisation in hard copy, providers should phone their usual contact and discuss possible arrangements.
The RSH has also said it will pause its programme of in-depth assessments (IDAs) of registered providers.
No new IDAs will be started for the time being, and for IDAs that are already under way the RSH will be in contact with providers to defer or complete it online.
Providers are still being expected to report potential compliance issues, although the RSH has said it will take account of the impact of coronavirus.
In a letter sent to all registered providers on 26 March, the regulator said that it was making a number of changes to the way it operated and its contact with providers. This includes delaying the requirement for the submission of the Forecast Financial Return from providers until later in the year, surveying providers on how they are delivering emergency repairs and maintaining care and support services.
It has also set out how it will monitor the financial positions of providers, which includes potentially getting monthly updates from providers on operational performance.
Last updated on 26 March
The Scottish regulator has also updated its advice and announced that it will shift its focus to monitoring impact of coronavirus on social landlords. The updated advice from 18 March can be found here.
This list will be updated by Inside Housing by 10am every day. Important developments will be covered in news stories on www.insidehousing.co.uk and in our daily email newsletter. Sign up to receive our morning email here.
To see all our coronavirus coverage to date – including the latest news, advice to providers, comment and analysis – use the link below.