The Board of Atrium Homes is seeking the views of all its tenants on options for the rent review which would to take effect from 1 April 2021 and apply to all Atrium properties.
We appreciate this has been a very difficult year for many people and the Board has been mindful of this in considering the rent review.
Our rent review considers a number of factors but in particular the income needed to run the overall business and meet current and future investment plans. In 2020 for example, we completed 27 new units and completed Phase 1 of our major investment programme (HFF21CLS) which we consulted you on in August 2018 and which, over the next few years will see some £15 million spent on our older stock. (https://www.atrium-homes.co.uk/your-home-investment/ )
Whilst the HFF21CLS programme has had to be suspended temporarily due to Government imposed Covid-19 restrictions, we aim to catch up and get it back on schedule as soon as we are permitted. But in order to have the necessary funds to keep these investment plans on track, we consider that we should apply a rent increase to all Atrium properties from 1 April 2021 of 1.8% (October 2020 RPI + 0.5%). This level of increase is the minimum needed to allow us to continue to deliver the HFF21CLS the programme and maintain overall service levels.
As an Atrium customer we’d also like to seek your views on another proposed change that will affect how we use the rent you pay to provide greater consistency for all tenants. At present, for most tenants the cost of landscape maintenance is, like all maintenance, included in the overall rent charge. However, a small minority of tenants pay for some landscape maintenance through a separate additional service charge. We propose to stop applying a separate service charge for landscape maintenance so that all tenants are treated equally. In future, Atrium will meet the costs (estimated at approximately £0.21 per week per property) from its overall rental income. Other services charges for elements such as close cleaning, door entry maintenance and landlord supply would not be affected.
If you wish to express your views on either or both matters, please do so by completing this survey online at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/AHRENT2021 or by emailing your response to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday 22 January 2021 at 12 noon. The final decision on the level of increase will be taken at Atrium’s Board meeting on 26th January 2021.
Christmas and New Year Holidays
Atrium will be closed over the holiday period. We will close on Thursday 24th December at 4.00pm and re-open on Wednesday 6th January 2021 at 9am.
If you have any emergency repairs during this period, please phone us on 01563 528 816 and you’ll be redirected to our emergency service.
The staff at Atrium would like to wish all of our customers a very Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year. We are all hoping that 2021 will be a better one for everyone.
From 6.00pm on Friday 20 November until 11 December, East and South Ayrshire will move from Level 3 to Level 4 restrictions. During this period in Level 4, Atrium is only permitted to carry out ESSENTIAL repairs inside tenants’ homes, i.e. where failure to do it would threaten the household’s health and safety.
Atrium Homes tenants will soon be able to access our services quicker and easier than ever before.
We will shortly be launching our Tenant Portal, giving our customers 24/7 access to a variety of housing services at the push of a button on their computer keyboard or a tap of the app on their phone. The new portal will make it easier for customers to check their rent account balance, report repairs, keep their details up-to-date or make a complaint.
We want to make it as convenient and easy as possible for our customers to use so for our final testing before we go LIVE, we’re looking for 25 volunteers to help us. To sign up to help simply send your name and address and contact number to email@example.com
and we’ll give you instructions on how to register . You must be a tenant to apply and once you’ve simply given us some feedback on finding your way around the portal we’ll send you £25 for your help.
Sign up by 20th October 2020 to have a chance of being selected.
Atrium has been establishing its plans for exiting lockdown and getting staff back from furlough or home working and into its office and tenants' homes. We are being guided by this by Scottish Government advice which permits non-essential offices to reopen from 31 July, but also permits other outdoor based or low risk construction type works to take place now.
Based on this, our timeline is this:
- From Monday 13 July: Atrium Property Services has begun work on external repairs which have built up over lockdown plus re-commissioning and preparing void properties which were ready for let back in March. This will take them several weeks.
- Also from w/c 13 July external estate inspections have recommenced to catch up on contractor activity, which has been ongoing over the last 3 months. We’ll be giving a priority to the garden maintenance scheme which started again in early June. In parallel, allocations staff have started to do viewings on voids with a view to allocating properties again.
- From Monday 20 July, we will begin to allocate the small number of empty properties that are ready. Some tenants may already have been contacted regarding this. We are liaising with our contractors on the upgrade and repair of other properties which became empty during lockdown to get these properties ready for occupation as soon as possible.
- From Monday 3 August, our phones will be reset to operate on our standard hours i.e 9.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Thursday; 9.00am to 4.00 pm Friday, as we take another step back towards resuming full service.
- Also from Monday 3 August, we anticipate APS and other contractors will begin work on the substantial backlog of internal repairs which has built up since we went into lockdown. We will be checking with customers in the coming weeks that they’re happy for work to be done, and scheduling appointments. We will be introducing safety measures to make it as safe as we can for customers and contractor alike, to carry out repairs.
- From Monday 10 August, we hope that some staff will be able to work from the office in Shortlees, and we will be considering this in more detail closer to the time.
A Note on Repairs
Since March this year we have only been able to undertake emergency and urgent repairs to occupied properties, but our tenants have still been reporting other repairs to us. This has resulted in a substantial backlog which we will be aiming to address as quickly as we can. Many of these repairs are inside occupied properties and additional safety measures may be needed to minimise the risk of Covid spread. This may impact on the speed at which our operatives and contractors can work, which in turn may affected the length of time needed to address the backlog. We will be aiming to do these repairs in order and it will take some time to work through them.
In addition, we expect we will receive additional repair requests to those already recorded. These will be triaged as normal, allocated a priority and addressed in turn. It may be several months before we are able to achieve anything like the average response time of 4.5 working days for routine repairs that tenants previously enjoyed, so we ask for your patience.