TENANTâ€™S NEWSLETTER WINTER 2013
CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS OFFICE CLOSURE AND EMERGENCY REPAIRS Our office will close on Tuesday 24th December 2013 at 1:00 pm and re-open on Monday 6th January 2014 at 9.00 am Please note that if you need to report an emergency repair when our office is closed you should telephone:
J.D. THOMSON & SON PROPERTY CARE LTD ON 01655 882234 who will arrange for an appropriate worker to respond if the request is an emergency. It is important that this service is only used for genuine emergencies. Examples of these include: burst pipes, no heating, no electricity or gas, dangerous electric fittings such as switches or sockets, no hot water, insecure doors/windows at ground floor level, toilet not flushing (if there is no other toilet that you can use in the house), blocked sink, bath or drain.
EVERYONE AT AYRSHIRE HOUSING WISHES YOU
SEE INSIDE FOR: Rent Setting Consultation
Staff & Office News
AND A HAPPY
Warm Home Discount
A MERRY CHRISTMAS
RENT SETTING CONSULTATION In February, the Board will decide on the rent levels that will apply from next April. Before coming to a decision, it wants to ask you what you think of their proposed increase. The Board is asking for feedback on whether or not a £2.30 a week increase for a typical two bedroom house is reasonable. For a typical one bedroom house, the figure is £2 and for a three bedroom house, £2.50. While the final amount may vary slightly depending on your actual current rent the increase will equate to 3% of your current rent. By way of comparison, South Ayrshire Council’s rents are set to increase next April by 5.2%. The Board realises that many tenants are facing real financial pressures so it is aiming to keep any increase as low as practically possible. However, we have to set rents at a level that allows us to run the association effectively and ensure we can continue to meet the costs of providing good quality services. Last month, we sent you details of the recent tenant satisfaction survey. The survey results suggest that most tenants think that their rent payment represents real value for money in terms of the quality of their home and our day to day services. So in proposing the rent increase, the Board’s view is that it is important to maintain services at the current standard. The rent also pays for the longer-term improvements to our houses. On page 4, you can read about our plans for major improvement works over the next twelve months. Expenditure on our maintenance and repairs programmes this year will amount to almost £1.7 million. Such investment each year ensures that all our houses are maintained to the same high standard and will provide for good quality homes for existing and prospective tenants for many years to come. The Board has invested in additional money advice and tenancy services which are proving to be of real benefit to many of our tenants. Ayrshire Housing also continues to build new houses. We have though, scaled back our ambitions so as not put any additional pressure on the rents that are charged. We welcome your comments on the proposed rent increase. Please get in touch by the middle of February. You can speak to your Housing Officer, or write or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org . You can also leave a comment at www.ayrshirehousing.org.uk for others to see.
STAFF & OFFICE NEWS It was with great pleasure that Ayrshire Housing welcomed its first school placement work experience student. Dana Skilling of Ayr Academy, joined the office for one week, where she spent a day in each department learning the everyday routine jobs and procedures. At the end of the week Dana was asked to write of her time in the office and said, “I enjoyed my work experience here so much!”, and that she “especially enjoyed the administration department with Amy and spending time with the Money Advice Officer, Jacqueline.” She told us that , “if anyone asks her what to do for work experience, she would send them here and that the experience was something she won’t forget!”.
‘JOHN GETS ON HIS BIKE!’ John Hendry, one of our Maintenance Officers and a keen cyclist, was recently out on his bike when he met by chance an old friend, Ian. He told John about the sponsored cycle that Ayrshire Hospice have organised which will take the cycling team from Crystal Palace, London to the Eiffel Tower in Paris. This is a challenging journey of 360 miles, but one well worth undertaking to raise essential funds for the local Hospice. The sponsored cycle takes place over 5 days in July 2014 and we are sure you will all join the staff at Ayrshire Housing in wishing John well in his training over the coming months. If in the new year, once all the Christmas festivities are over, you would like to add your support to Ayrshire Hospice you can sponsor John on his Just Giving page and search for John Hendry. We shall give you an update on John’s training in the Spring Newsletter.
OUR SEASONAL CARD You should have received a card from us with this newsletter. This year we have worked with pupils at Ayr’s Kyle Academy who are completing a Higher photography course. There are eight different cards which have been posted at random. So you might spot that your neighbour has a different one! As you can see the card also hansels in the New Year with a donation to the Ayr based homelessness initiative, Care and Share. Our designer Neil McGuire has topped up this gift by forgoing part of his fee.
FOOD BANK EVENT Ayrshire Housing aims to support the community at every opportunity available and recently agreed to work with The South Ayrshire Foodbank. This service provides food vouchers to tenants in need. The staff held a Foodbank Day to help raise awareness for this and donated a fantastic 73.2kg of food!
Kitchen Replacement Project The association has appointed James Frew Ltd (Housing & Modernisation Division), Stevenston to undertake kitchen replacement works in the following areas:
Troon – Wallacefield Road / Killin Place
Ayr – West Sanquhar Avenue / West Sanquhar Place
Girvan – Clyde View
The kitchens are being supplied by Howdens Joinery Ltd and tenants are being offered a choice of cabinets and worktops. Surveys have been completed and works are ongoing. Initial feedback from tenants is good regarding the choice and quality of the kitchen units and the quality of the workmanship. The target completion date for these works is March 2014. If successful, it is anticipated that this programme will be extended to other estates where the ongoing stock condition surveys have identified that the existing kitchens are in need of replacement.
Replacement Heating Project – Prestwick/ Girvan/Dundonald & Troon
Renewable Heating Project in Dailly
Another project is the installation of gas central heating to replace electric storage heating to 15 properties in Prestwick, Dundonald and Girvan. Again, the association has been successful in attracting partial funding for this work. Scottish Gas Networks (SGN) are in the process of providing the necessary gas connections for these properties. In addition replacement heating will be installed in a total of 15 houses in Logan Drive and Kenmore, Troon to replace old inefficient boilers with modern ‘A’ rated condensing combi boilers. The target date for completion of these installations is March 2014. Again pre-installation surveys will be necessary and affected tenants will be contacted shortly regarding access for the surveyor.
This project comprises the installation of low temperature, split air to water heat pumps in lieu of the existing electric storage heating to 33 properties in Hadyard and Eldinton Terraces and Woodside. These units absorb the heat from the outside air to raise the temperature of the internal unit to provide hot water and space heating via a conventional radiator system. The association have been successful in securing partial funding to install this form of heating and it is also proposed to install cavity fill and loft insulation plus replacement external doors. Discussions with South Ayrshire Council Planning Department are ongoing and the appointed Contractor (Coolheat Ltd of Dumfries) is in the process of conducting pre-installation surveys of the affected properties. The target completion date for this project is June 2014.
The Warm Home Discount Scheme For winter 2013/2014, you could get a £135 discount on your electricity bill. This is a one-off discount on your electricity bill, usually paid between October and March. Your electricity supplier will normally tell you if you are eligible. You will qualify for the discount if on 20th July 2013 (and your supplier participates in the scheme) you are;
Age 75 or over and get Pension Credit Under 75 and getting guaranteed element of pension credit
If you qualify you will receive a letter automatically from your supplier. These are sent between September 2013 and January 2014. You should contact the helpline if your letter does not arrive by February 2014. Late claims are not accepted beyond 14th March 2014. If you have a general query regarding the scheme or think you are eligible for assistance call
Warm Home Discount Scheme helpline – 0845 603 9439 If you don’t qualify using the above criteria, participating suppliers also offer the discount to vulnerable people (e.g. those on a low income, disabilities in the household etc. ). Each supplier has their own rules. You may be able to apply direct to your energy supplier. For this approved broader group the discount is also £135, and is available for working age tenants. A list of participating energy companies is available in the government website – www.gov.uk/browse/benefits/heating. If in doubt, contact your electricity supplier directly. Please note some suppliers are now fully subscribed for this year.
Frost Prevention – Tips to Avoid Problems During the winter season it’s important to take the necessary precautions to minimise the risk of frost damage and prevent frozen and burst pipes. If you experience frozen pipes: Turn off the water at the stop valve Switch off gas and electric water heaters Remove or protect any possessions that could be damaged by a burst pipe Gently heat the frozen section of pipe using a fan heater, hair drier, hot water bottle or heated cloths. Never use a blow lamp or naked flame. In the event of severe cold weather resulting in frozen external supply pipes, there is little the association or its contractors can do, especially if there are a lot of burst pipes. If you have access to water for a period, take the opportunity to fill some suitable containers to provide some water should the pipes freeze further.
If you experience burst pipes: Call the office or the Emergency Repairs Service immediately Turn off the water at the stop valve – open all taps to fully drain the system Switch off the central heating system/hot water heater if the burst pipe is affecting the heating pipework. Switch off any electrics affected – switch off the power at the mains if the flooding is extensive. Warn neighbours who might suffer damage due to a burst especially if you live in an upper floor flat and have other properties below your home. Minimise damage – if water is coming through the ceiling, put buckets and basins underneath and move items that might be damaged by water. If the ceiling starts to bulge, pierce the plaster to let the water through without the ceiling collapsing.
2013 COMPETITION WINNERS Pet Competition Congratulations to the winners! Patch (left) who lives with John Slider of Ayr and Border Collie, Skye (right) who lives with Georgina Dawson of Maybole. It is with great sadness to report that Skye has now passed away. Commendations were awarded to Lynn Ballâ€™s Lhasa Apso; Alfie of Troon; Nico the dog and owner Ashley Harrison of Girvan; puppy Toby and owner Karen Harvey of Viewfield Court, Ayr; Yorkshire Terrier puppy Pepe and owner Christopher Druggan of Ayr; Jack the dog and owners Ian & Mili Alexander of Kirkmichael; and Idaho, Arizona, Angel and Marie the mice (pictured right) and their owner Karen Occardi of Coylton. Many thanks to everyone who entered the competition!
Garden Competition The winners of the Competition 2013 are:
Ian & Amelia Alexander for Best Garden (right), Robert & Audrey Sweeney and Vanda McLean for Joint Winners of Best Container. Commendations were awarded to Fiona MacIntyre and Christina Maddox for Best Window Box, John & Mary Shine and Reg & Elizabeth Duffy for Best Garden.
CHRISTMAS COMPETITION WIN £25 of Store Vouchers! What would you do if you arrived home after a night out or a trip away to find out that someone had broken into your home or a pipe had burst and flooded your property? Your belongings are not automatically insured by AYRSHIRE HOUSING against fire, theft, water damage and other household risks. So, if you haven’t thought properly about insurance cover, you could be in for a shock. However, AYRSHIRE HOUSING can now arrange for insurance for the contents of your home at a special affordable rate. The minimum values of possessions insured are £9,000 (for those aged under 55) or £6,000 (aged 55 and over). Premiums start from just £1.43 per fortnight for a £9,000 sum insured or £1.09 per fortnight for a £6,000 sum insured. All premiums can be paid fortnightly or monthly by cash, on a monthly direct debit basis or annually. Tenants and residents can also increase cover for an additional premium to include extended accidental damage cover, cover for wheelchairs/ scooters and hearing aids as well as personal possessions cover (for items away from the home). For further information ask AYRSHIRE HOUSING, for a free information pack or call Thistle Tenant Risks 0845 601 7007. There are 16 words to find in the grid over the page. Can you find them all? If so mark them up clearly and return with the slip below to Ayrshire Housing 119 Main Street, Ayr KA8 8BX before 17th January 2014. You could be the lucky winner of the vouchers. The winner will be the first correct entry drawn. Name:………………………………………………. Address: …………………………………………… ……………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………… Postcode: …………………………………………. Telephone number: …………………… I would like more information about the special home contents insurance scheme YES/NO
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