TENANT’S NEWSLETTER WINTER 2012 CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS OFFICE CLOSURE AND EMERGENCY REPAIRS Our office will close on Monday 24th December 2012 at 1:00 pm and re-open on Friday 4th January 2013 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 A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR SEE INSIDE FOR: Rent Consultation
Care and Share Donation
Are your ready for winter?
A new tenant’s story
Staff and Board news
RENT CONSULTATION We are consulting with our tenants on a below inflation rent increase to apply from April 2013.
PAYING YOUR RENT
We understand the pressures on all our tenants at the moment. Wages and benefits are being capped as the price of essentials increases. Unfortunately, the costs of providing a good service to you go up year by year. We try to be more and more efficient but at the end of the day, this has to be met from our rents. We are now looking for your views on an average rent increase of £2.50 a week from next April. This compares with the previous £4.00 increase.
We know that Christmas is a time when we all face extra pressure on our finances. Additional burdens and demands can lead to many debt related problems. It is important to remember, however, that rent payments due to Ayrshire Housing must be maintained throughout the festive season. While it may be tempting to miss a payment in order to meet some of the costs of Christmas, the consequences of doing so may be serious. If you are experiencing difficulties meeting your rent payments, please contact your Housing Officer:-
You can comment in writing, at www.ayrshirehousing.org.uk, by phone or by speaking directly to your Housing Officer. The Board will make its final decision in February 2013 and will take account of your views.
Carol Young Ann Tosh Dawn Bigham Isobel Moore Margaret Woods
(01292) 885567 (01292) 885578 (01292) 885570 (01292) 885569 (01292) 885566
We were delighted to donate £500 to Care and Share. An organisation for people who are homeless, have been homeless or are vulnerable to homelessness. Councillor Corrie Wilson can be seen presenting the cheque.
OUR SEASONAL CARD We hope that you like this year’s seasonal card. We’ve worked again with pupils at Tarbolton Primary School. This year they took Robert Burns’ To a Mouse as the theme for eight unique cards. These have been posted out at random so you may spot that your neighbours have different cards! As you will see, the card also hansels in the New Year with a donation to the Ayr homelessness initiative Care and Share. Our designer Neil McGuire topped up this gift with part of his fee. Also working with the pupils was the well kent Ayr Burns’ enthusiast Alex Baird who selected the poem.
Here is a photo of Lizzie, (Development Worker) with the new banner purchased by a generous donation from Ayrshire Housing. Care and Share have a weekly drop-in at Riverside Church, Ayr every Wednesday between 2:30 and 4:00pm.
Following the Scottish Government’s extensive consultation, the Charter has now been approved by the Scottish Parliament and came into effect on 1st April 2012. The Charter sets out the outcomes and standards that Ayrshire Housing should achieve for all who use our service. The Charter’s standards will encourage us to work closely with tenants and other service users to deliver high quality services.
The Charter sets out sixteen outcomes and standards that all social landlords including Ayrshire Housing, should aim to achieve. It will operate for five years and then it will be reviewed. The sixteen outcomes cover the following broad areas: Customer/Landlord Relationship; Communication; Participation; Quality of Housing; Repairs, Maintenance and Improvements; Estate Management, Anti-social Behaviour, Neighbour Nuisance and Tenancy Disputes; Housing Options; Access to Housing; Tenancy Sustainment; Homeless People (one standard for local Councils); Value for Money; Rents and Service Charges; Gypsies/Travellers. The Charter is to be monitored and measured by the Scottish Housing Regulator. A period of consultation took place from June to August 2012 on what the measurements will look like. These measurements should be published at the end of 2012. We will be required to collect data to measure these 16 outcomes from April 2013 and submit a detailed report to the Regulator in the following year. Further information will be published in due course but in the meantime, please contact us if you wish to discuss any aspect of this further.
DID YOU KNOW?
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) – Forthcoming Changes
From 8 April 2013 a Personal Independence Payment will replace DLA for disabled people aged 16 to 64.
A Personal Independence Payment is to help towards some of the extra costs caused by ill health or disability. It is based on how a person’s condition affects them, not the condition they have.
You don’t need to contact the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about this. If you’re aged 16 to 64 on 8 April 2013 and you get DLA, DWP will contact you between October 2013 and March 2016.
DWP will also contact you if you get DLA and reach age 16 from April 2013 onwards.
They’ll let you know: how to apply for a Personal Independence Payment, when you need to claim by and what will happen to your DLA.
This will happen even if you get an indefinite or lifetime award of DLA.
If you apply for a Personal Independence Payment, your DLA will continue until DWP makes a decision about your claim. If you decide not to apply, your DLA will end.
If you’ll be 65 or over on or before 8 April 2013, you won’t be affected.
We can supply this document in a print size to suit. It is also available in Braille, audio and other formats, and in other languages. Our website also has several accessibility features which you may find useful. 119 Main Street, Ayr, KA8 8BX Tel 01292 880120, Lo-Call 08452712327 or text 07572360360
ELECTRICAL SAFETY AT CHRISTMAS The festive season brings additional dangers due to an increase in the number of electrical appliances being used. Here are some examples: Check Christmas lights conform to British Safety Standards. Remember fairy lights heat up and should be kept away from anything that will burn. Lights intended for internal use should not be used outside. Don’t overload electrical sockets and be especially careful with Christmas lights. Never leave burning candles unattended or better still avoid using them. Avoid putting on washing machines, tumble driers or dishwashers when you leave the house or go to bed. Be especially careful with chargers for mobile phones or laptops. Ensure cigarettes are extinguished properly and empty ashtrays into a metal bin outside. Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children. Most fires start in the kitchen – never leave a cooker unattended. Test your smoke alarm and ensure it is working properly. Use the test facility to check it regularly. Make sure you and your family know what to do in an emergency – prepare a fire escape plan. Finally, celebrate Christmas and New Year safely. The risk of accidents, especially in the kitchen is increased when alcohol is consumed.
CAVITY WALL AND LOFT INSULATION OFFERS Over the past few months, it has come to our attention that there has been a significant increase in the number of offers being made by energy suppliers to carry out installation of cavity wall and loft insulation. We are aware that these works are being offered for free but in other cases tenants are being advised that a financial contribution is required to enable works to proceed. Here are some key considerations to take into account, should you be approached with such an offer: Housing must approve in advance any works to your property, including free insulation works.
ENERGY ADVICE TIPS Here are some simple measures you can put into action today to help you save energy and money. Turning your thermostat down by 1ºC could cut
Not all property types are suitable for
cavity wall insulation.
You should not provide access to your
property for surveyors/contractors unless proof of identity is available. If you have any concerns you should
contact our office prior to providing access. As the Winter continues we anticipate that these offers will increase and we would ask that if you are made such an offer, that the supplier or contractor is directed to Ayrshire Housing.
your heating bills by up to 10%. Check that thermostatic radiator valves are set appropriately for the occupancy of the room. Is your water too hot? Your cylinder thermostat shouldn't need to be set higher than 60ºC/140ºF. Close your curtains at dusk to stop heat escaping through the windows and always turn off the lights when you leave a room. Don't leave appliances on standby and remember not to leave appliances on charge unnecessarily. If you're not filling up the washing machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher; use the half-load or economy programme. Only boil as much water as you need (but cover the element if you're using an electric kettle). Replace your light bulbs with energy saving ones: just one can reduce your lighting costs - and they last up to 12 times longer than ordinary light bulbs. Purchase "A-rated" domestic appliances when replacements are needed. If there is a power failure, check your programmer has not lost the pre-sets or that the clock function has changed.
Visit the Energy Saving Trust web-site www.est.org.uk or call 0800 512 012 for free impartial and independent advice on how to save energy.
ARE YOU READY FOR WINTER? Some tenants are caught out by cold weather and suffer damage, distress and inconvenience from burst pipes. Even with minimal damage, you could be faced with disruption whilst repairs are completed.
KNOW YOUR SYSTEM AND KEEP YOUR HOUSE WARM If you intend to go away overnight or for a longer period leave your heating on to maintain a reasonable background temperature and ask someone to visit the property regularly. Alternatively, drain down the system, turn off the supply at the stop valve and open all taps and leave open. Ensure plugs are removed from sinks and wash basins and flush the toilet to empty the cistern. IF YOU DISCOVER FROZEN PIPES:
Turn off the supply at the stop valve and switch off gas and electric water heaters. Gently heat the frozen section of pipe using a fan heater, hairdryer, hot water bottle or heated cloths wrapped around the pipe. Thaw from the tap side and work towards the frozen section of pipe.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR PIPES BURST: Turn off the supply at the stop valve and switch off the electrical supply at the mains. Do not operate affected appliance. Contact Ayrshire Housing or if the office is closed, contact J.D. Thomson & Son Property Care Ltd on 01655 882234. Open all taps to drain the system and switch off central heating systems or water heaters. Warn neighbours if they are likely to be affected. DRYING OUT: Leave windows, doors including internal and cupboard doors open to ventilate the affected area. Keep affected rooms heated but do not over-heat as this could lead to further damage. Store damaged contents in a dry place – your insurer may wish to inspect them. TENANT LIABILITY: If you fail to take reasonable precautions to prevent burst pipes, you may be held responsible for the damage caused to the property. Your neighbours might also have a claim against you for any damage to their property and contents. Burst pipes can cause considerable damage to your home. Ayrshire Housing’s insurance provides cover for the structure and fittings owned by us, this does not cover your contents.
At this time of year, more than any other, it is important that you take every possible step to protect your property and belongings. Follow these simple steps to ensure you have a safe, secure, crime free festive season. Lock all doors even when at home. Lock all windows when out. Secure rear access to your home; this is the area where it is most likely to
be attacked. Don’t leave valuable items unattended. Look after property belonging to others, it may be you next time. If you see anything suspicious report it immediately to the Police, or contact Crimestoppers on
0800 555 111. Don’t be afraid to call the police. When you do so, you need not disclose your name and address. The police now use a state of the art encrypted radio system which is immune to interception by any scanning devices so you can call at any time, with confidentiality guaranteed.
HOME CONTENTS INSURANCE
A NEW TENANT’S STORY
Unfortunately bad weather brings more than just the cold to our homes. Burst pipes, frost damage or a fire could all cause loss or damage to your belongings. At this time of year loss through theft from housebreaking is also more common. Ayrshire Housing insurance does not cover any loss to your personal belongings or damage to your decoration. We strongly recommend that tenants obtain home contents insurance through a reputable insurer.
Peter Goudie moved into his Ayrshire Housing flat in June 2012. Previously he had been homeless staying in temporary accommodation in Ayr after leaving his previous accommodation.
The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations provides competitively priced insurance cover through the SFHA Diamond Insurance Scheme. Alternatively, tenants can obtain cover through the Employers in Voluntary Housing (EVH) scheme called ‘This’. Both schemes provide the ‘new for old’ cover and offer the opportunity for tenants to pay the cost by instalments.
Having settled accommodation has helped Peter get his life back on track, and realise there are plenty of opportunities available to him.
Tenants can pick up leaflets on both schemes from our office.
Peter explained that his flat is perfect for his needs, central to all the amenities he requires. It is just the right size for him, yet he still has space for his grandchildren to stay over and visit. Peter enjoys helping his neighbours, and feels that there is a great neighbourly spirit in the development where he lives.
STAFF AND BOARD NEWS Congratulations to Paula Hunter on the safe arrival of baby Harry. Both mother and baby are doing well. Continuing the baby boom at Ayrshire Housing we are delighted to announce soon to be mums; Zoe McGrady due January 2013, Dawn Bigham due May 2013 and Caroline Donald due with twins in June 2013. Zoe
Money Advice Officer
We are delighted to announce that Jacqueline Rowlands will be joining us in January 2013. Jacqueline will be providing a welfare rights, budgeting and income maximisation service for our tenants and will be working closely with the housing officers in preventing and reducing rent arrears. Jacqueline’s post was established as part of our strategy to try and mitigate some of the potential impacts of the welfare reforms that are currently being introduced by the Government. We have been highlighting these reforms in our recent newsletters and have tried to emphasise how important it is for our tenants to be aware of them and how they might affect them personally. Our housing officers have also been contacting tenants who may be affected by the under-occupation, or “bedroom tax”, charges that are being introduced from April 2013. Please do not assume that you won’t be affected. If you have been contacted by your housing officer then it is likely that you will be affected and need to prepare and budget in advance.
Rosina McRoberts - A Board Member’s Story I became an Ayrshire Housing tenant when I found myself in most need of security and stability for myself and my family. I was delighted when I was offered a new family home in March 2010 in Ayr where we have happily settled. After being given the opportunity to become a Tenant Board Member in September 2012, I have attended meetings, a seminar and a Board Member training session. This has given me behind the scenes insight into a housing association and I am able to become involved in a wide range of issues. I am looking forward to the year ahead and would encourage all tenants to consider becoming more involved.