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Home > Information > Coronavirus > Coronavirus

Coronavirus - Useful information and our services

Repairs and maintenance
We are pleased to confirm we are now providing a full day to day repair service and have also restarted our planned maintenance programmes such as kitchen and bathrooms refurbishments, window and door replacements, external painting and replacement of existing heating systems.
If you reported a repair prior to lockdown we will have phoned you to book the job back in. If you wish to report a new repair please phone us on 01235 515900 or report the repair via the Soha App or the Website.
We are continuing to ask all residents, prior to visits, if they are self-isolating, shielding or exhibiting symptoms of the virus.  Please note we will not carry out repairs in a household which is isolating because one or more family members has symptoms or where an individual has been advised to shield - unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household. Please see below for full details on visiting homes and properties.
Please see the letter from the Minister of Housing setting out the measures that are in place to support social housing residents during the next phase towards reopening society. This includes information about repairs and maintenance, gas safety checks, remediation works, home moves, support for domestic abuse victims and anti-social behaviour.

Procedure for visiting tenant’s homes
The safety of residents, staff and the wider public is our key priority when visiting homes and properties during the current COVID-19 situation. To help reduce the risk of infection and spread of the virus we have introduced specific procedures for our staff to follow before, during and after any visit to residents’ homes and vacant properties. We appreciate your understanding and co-operation in working with us to follow these procedures which aim to ensure everybody’s safety.

Arranging a visit
Viewings and appointments must be agreed in advance and we will ask tenants if they, or anyone in their home, has Coronavirus or is exhibiting symptoms of Coronavirus such as a persistent cough, high temperature or loss of smell/taste.
  • If you confirm, yes, we will not under any circumstances attend the appointment and any visit will be postponed for at least 14 days. We will amend our records confirming the household’s Coronavirus situation and contact you again to check on your situation and arrange an alternative appointment for when it is safe to do so.
  • If you confirm, no we will agree an appointment time and date. However, if your situation changes and a member of your household is diagnosed with the virus, starts self-isolating or is exhibiting symptoms of the virus between the time the appointment is made to the actual time of the appointment you should notify Soha immediately to cancel the appointment.

During the visit
  • If at any point during the appointment our visiting staff believe anyone in the household is exhibiting symptoms of the virus, they will withdraw from the appointment immediately. We will contact you again in 14 days to check on your situation and agree a new appointment date if safe to do so.
  • You will need to maintain 2 metres social distancing at all times.
 
Property viewings and sign ups
  • We request that you pay any advance rent on a property prior to the meeting. If this is not possible and you need to pay with cash, you should bring an envelope with the money which you will need to count out and then place in the envelope and leave at a safe distance for our staff to collect.
  • You will be required to enter the property for the viewing on your own to reduce contact.
  • For sign ups, you must bring your own pen to the appointment as these cannot be shared.
 
Sales visits
  • Our staff will arrive 15 minutes before the appointment to open all door in the property.
  • We request you arrive just before your appointment time. If you arrive early please remain in your vehicle or stay at a safe social distance from other people in the vicinity.
  • You will be let in to view the property on your own whilst our staff wait outside.
  • You are requested not to touch handles or surfaces in the property.
  • If you have questions these will be answered on your exit whilst observing the 2 metres distancing guidance. We aim to hold conversations in a well-ventilated space whilst considering confidentiality of information. If this cannot be achieved or in case of bad weather we will agree to deal with questions by phone or an alternative method.
 
 Property sale completions
  • Buyers are emailed the handover checklist 48 hours before the agreed time for completion appointment so that this does not need to be completed at the appointment. You will be asked to read through and confirm you have read and accept the conditions with any questions dealt with by phone or email.
  • A specified time will be given with a clear request that you only arrive at that time and should not leave your vehicle until home sales staff confirm you can. You should then observe the 2 metres social distancing guidelines at all times.
  • Keys and the Home User pack containing boiler and appliance instructions, EPC, gas, electrical, other certificates and guidance on the property and contacting Soha will be left in property, with the door closed but left unlocked. Keys, door handles and meter access are wiped down prior to your access.
  • Staff cannot share pens with you during the appointment so please bring your own.
  • We aim to hold conversations in a well ventilated space whilst considering confidentiality of information. If this cannot be achieved or in case of bad weather we will agree to deal with questions by phone or an alternative method.
 
 New build, re-let and mutual exchange inspections or viewings
  • Tenants are asked to clean their home before and after any viewings or inspections.
  • Existing tenants are asked to vacate their homes while inspections and viewings take place.
  • Existing tenants are asked to leave all doors in the property open.
  • Virtual viewings may be offered to prospective tenants.
  •  If a viewing is required only members of the same household are allowed to attend.
  • The viewing can only be attended by the prospective tenant and a member of staff ensuring 2 metres distance at all times. The family and the staff member will view the inside of the property separately to reduce contact.
  • Prospective tenants are advised to avoid touching handles or surfaces inside the property as far as possible.
  • We aim to hold conversations in a well ventilated space whilst considering confidentiality of information. If this cannot be achieved or in case of bad weather we will agree to deal with questions by phone or an alternative method.
 
Click here to view the Soha Housing Risk Assessment to Working Safely during COVID-19 in other peoples’ homes and on site.

Paying your rent
Tenants
During this period you might be concerned about making rent payments. If anyone finds they are not paid and cannot manage their rent payments, we will not be taking legal action at this point, but working out a way to help you manage this. Please do speak to us rather than worry.  
Please see our Guidance for Loss of Income.(Word format) or Guidance for Loss of Income (pdf format)
Contact us on 01235 515 900 or email housing@soha.co.uk.
Shared Owners
We want to offer our shared owners support during this difficult period and would like to work with you to manage the arrangements for payment. It is important that you also speak to your mortgage lender if you are going to have difficulty paying your mortgage and need to ask them for a payment holiday.
Please see our Guidance to support shared owners with a loss of income and access to benefits (pdf)
Coronavirus - Income SSP (Mar 20) 8 website v3.jpg
How we're working
As government advice changes, and increasing numbers of households are either self-isolating or limiting social contact, we have had to adopt different working practices. 
The safety and well-being of our residents, staff and partners is paramount and our changes to service reflect this commitment. Please be assured that we are working hard to provide you with the best services possible and we will continue to be contactable even though some of our working practices are changing.  Our phones will continue being answered, and we are now carrying out routine repairs again. We will let you know here how our services are changing in line with guidance from government. 

Before entering any tenant's home

We are asking all residents if they are self-isolating or exhibiting symptoms of the virus and will only enter residents homes and carry out work if it’s safe to do so. Please advise us if you are self-isolating and for how long so that we can update our records.

Our phone lines

Our customer services team continue to be available on 01235 515 900 or 0800 014 15 45. You can also download and use the App to keep up-to-date with your account, report repairs, or let us know about neighbourhood issues.  

Our reception is open to visitors  

The reception at our Didcot offices is now open to visitors Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.00pm. The safety of visitors and staff is our top priority so we have made some changes to the way we operate. Social distancing is in place and only one person at a time is permitted into the reception area. No other parts of the building are open to visitors for the time being.


Changes to tenant, property and community visits (Updated 28 July 2020) 

Coronavirus - Our Services (28-7-20).jpg


Extra Care Housing services

Soha Housing and The Order of St John Care Trust have the safety and well-being of residents as a paramount concern. We are also taking measures to ensure the safety and well-being of our staff, and visitors to our schemes.
As government advice changes, and increasing numbers of households are either self-isolating or limiting social contact, we need to adopt different working practices. We are not using the lounges or dining rooms for any meetings or meal services. We will talk directly to affected residents and agree alternative ways forward.
Please be assured that we are working hard to continue to provide you with the best services possible and we will continue to be contactable even though some of our working practices have changed. Our phones continue being answered, and we are still carrying out repairs.
We will still provide a daily Scheme Manager service to you as far as possible. This will likely be a rota of Soha staff and will be for reduced hours each day as necessary. Sometimes scheme residents will see more than one Soha colleague on site at different times of the day. We will always wear a name badge and will liaise regularly with on site care staff. Staff will need to prioritise essential health & safety checks (fire alarms, Tunstall service, etc) and will make time to talk to residents with concerns, while respecting government advice on social distancing (standing 6 feet apart for example).
We will ask you if you are self-isolating or exhibiting symptoms of the virus and will only enter your home if it’s safe to do so.
Childcare - To help restrict the spread of Covid-19 we strongly advise against childcare at Extra Care or Independent Living premises. Based on current government advice and its decision to close schools it is inadvisable to have children on the premises because of the potential risk of infection and spread of Covid-19.
Our customer services team continue to be available on 01235 515 900 or 0800 014 15 45. You can also download and use the App to keep up-to-date with your account, report repairs, or let us know about neighbourhood issues. 

Handling personal data and Cornavirus (Covid-19) guidance
Due to the current COVID-19 guidance set out by HM Government we would like to issue the following addendum to our Privacy Notice: Soha Housing Ltd may be required to process additional personal data to ensure that we are meeting our legal obligations and to provide enhanced welfare services to our residents. We will do this strictly in-line with current legislation and only when it is suitable and/or essential. Your rights under the Data Protection Act 2018 remain the same. If you have any questions or concerns then please contact the Data Protection Officer at dpo@soha.co.uk.


General information

If you have any symptoms of Coronavirus yourself you must self-isolate for 7 days.  Everyone else in your immediate household must also self-isolate for a period of 14 days from the date of your symptoms starting.
Everyone is being asked to reduce social contact.  This means working from home but also avoiding non-essential travel and avoiding visiting pubs, restaurants, cinemas etc.
Anyone who is over 70, has an underlying health condition or is pregnant, you are strongly advised against the above activities and you should be significantly limiting face-to-face interactions with friends and family as much as possible.
We continue to monitor the Government response and will provide regular updates
The latest official advice on Coronavirus can be found on the government website, which is being updated daily. 
For further information visit:
 NHS
 PHE Blog
We are using our Soha Social and Events Facebook group to pass on information about local support groups as it comes in to us. 


Council Tax

At present South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils are advising that Council Tax payments should be paid as normal.
If you experience difficulty through a change of circumstances you should contact the council as soon as possible. The councils have a Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS) which you might wish to discuss with them. 
We understand that other local councils, where some of our tenants are located, are also adopting a similar position regarding payment of council tax. Please keep an eye on your local district council website for updates on paying council tax during this period.
More information on council tax in your area : Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire District Councils, West Oxfordshire District Council, Swindon Borough Council 
You can find your local council at www.gov.uk/find-local-council

Community Support
There are many groups and organisations offering support locally. Please click here for Community Support Information in your area. Please note any services offered have not been verified or endorsed by Soha. If they would like to use any of the services, please take all the steps they would normally to check whether a service or person is legitimate and suitable for your requirements.

Animal welfare
When money is tight or we can’t leave the house, animals – even the most-loved family members – may have to put up with not being treated as fast, or at all, in the event of illness.  Most, if not all, vets are now only operating on an emergency basis and demand has been very high.
If you need assistance for your pets in the form of veterinary or food help please call the RSPCA on 07887 475403 or email info@rspcaoxford.org.uk. The local branch of the RSPCA is often able to help with food for animals who would otherwise have to go without.
If you know of an animal in distress or suspect it is being treated cruelly,  please use the RSPCA’s 24 Hour Cruelty and Advice Line on 0300 1234 999. (It may take some time to get through as this is always a very busy number.) 
If getting out to walk a dog is worrying you, please contact for details of your local volunteer scheme which may have volunteers able to do this for you. Most councils have now closed up their dog-poo bins for reasons of public health, so please don't leave poo bags around your neighbourhood but dispose of them in the household waste.

Coronavirus-related scams
Unfortunately some people see Coronavirus as an opportunity to scam others. Victim Support has put together some tips for avoiding becoming a victim of a scam. Click here for their leaflet. If you’ve been affected by crime, please call the Victims First Hub in Thames Valley (Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire) on 0300 1234 148 or at https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/help-and-support/get-help/support-near-you/south-east/thames-valley. 

Contact Us

Pen

Soha Housing
Royal Scot House
99 Station Road
Didcot
Oxfordshire
OX11 7NN

Phone

01235 515 900
0800 014 15 45

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