Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

Here are some of our most popular questions from our residents and our responses to them. We hope you find them helpful.

Cheques

  • We have received a cheque in joint names but don’t have a joint bank account. Can it be made out in single names?

    We can make payments to a single payee. Please return the cheque to us with a letter signed by both payees, stating which individual you wish the payment to be made to.

    Our preferred method of payment is BACS, as its easier, quicker and safer for us to pay money directly into a bank account, so please provide the bank details of the person whose account the payment is to be made to. Once received, the payment will then made on our next scheduled payment run.

    Please always advise us if you don’t hold a joint account, as we would like to get it right for you first time.

Coronavirus

  • Is support still available for victims of domestic abuse?

    Yes. We can help if you let us know. We are here for you and will offer support to help you and your family feel safe in your home and/or provide you with information where you can get additional support. Visit www.greenfieldsch.org.uk/support-for-you/domestic-abuse-support for more information.

    If it’s an emergency, please call 999.

  • What will happen to our services if Greenfields staff contract the Coronavirus?

    We are monitoring the situation and have prepared plans to introduce if there are local cases of the coronavirus, including staff. We have plans in place to maintain services in the case of an emergency such as this pandemic, while staff have the technology they need to work from home.

    You may experience delays in service or in some cases intermittent services however we are on the whole confident that we are able to continue to support you and your family in your home. We are prioritising critical emergencies and other urgent work and we ask you to work with us.

    Please remember that our website has a wealth of information that may provide you with the answers you need. You can also use My Greenfields to check and pay rent and update your personal details. Please visit https://my.greenfieldsch.org.uk

  • Am I at risk from catching Coronavirus from a member of Greenfields’ staff?

    With a handful of exceptions, we have asked all of our staff to work from home during this period. Where we carry out visits, for example to carry out emergency repairs, we use personal protective equipment where appropriate. During visits, we will establish with you the best way to maintain social distancing in order to minimise the likelihood of transmitting an infection.

    All of our staff are regularly encouraged to keep up-to-date with the latest health advice and to maintain good hygiene. Like everyone else, staff are encouraged stay at home if they have symptoms and to follow all other NHS and Public Health England advice and direction.

  • I, or someone I know, must self-isolate and needs support. What should I do?

    If you are or know a Greenfields resident who is vulnerable or isolated, and does not have adequate support such as family, friends or carers to help them get essential items, please get in touch. We may be able to help.

    If you have received a letter from the NHS titled ‘Important advice to keep you safe from Coronavirus’, then you are entitled to support to get essential medication and shopping. Please register online at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable or call 0800 028 8327.

    There is also a Facebook group led by volunteers, backed by Essex County Council and the NHS called “Essex Coronavirus Action”. Visit www.facebook.com/essexcoronavirusaction for more information.

    Further support is out there, and we can point you in the right direction. Please get in touch.

  • I’ve been unable to work because of the Coronavirus and do not have enough income to pay my rent. What should I do?

    Please contact us if you think you may be unable to pay your rent. The Government has proposed new legislation suspending new evictions while this national emergency takes place.  Regardless of whether that’s approved, we have no intention of evicting someone who has contacted us to say they are having difficulty in paying their rent because of the Coronavirus.

    The important thing is to keep in touch with us, as we offer a range of advice and support and may be able to put you in touch with other support agencies who can also help.

  • What should I do if I have to self-isolate and I’m due to see someone from Greenfields?

    Please contact us and let us know – we all have a role to play to prevent the Coronavirus from spreading.

  • Is Greenfields House open?

    To help further prevent the spread of Coronavirus, Greenfields House closed to visitors from Monday, 23 March.

  • What services will Greenfields operate during the lockdown?

    Customer Service Centre

    Our Customer Service Advisors are working usual hours to take your phone calls, emails and social media messages. Do get in touch if you believe we may be able to help in any way.

    Repairs

    To help prevent the spread of Coronavirus and keep you safe, we will now only carry out repairs for critical emergencies. Critical emergencies include situations where you have no power, are affected by an uncontrolled water leak, or your home has been damaged by fire.

    If you believe you require an emergency repair, please call 01376 535400. We will balance your safety with our responsibilities to protect our staff and prevent the virus from spreading. If this is not the outcome you were hoping for, we will explain why we came to that decision.

    If the visit does take place, we will follow “social distancing” protocols, such as avoiding contact within two metres for more than 15 minutes. Our priority here is to protect both you and our colleagues.

    We have postponed our planned works, such as the installation of new kitchens and bathrooms, while the lockdown is in effect.

    Neighbourhoods and support

    We continue to respond to neighbourhoods queries including tenancy support, benefits advice, anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse support and more. Please visit www.greenfieldsch.org.uk/you-and-your-home/your-neighbourhood-service to find out more.

    We are postponing services including grounds maintenance, window-cleaning and tree work, unless there is a health and safety issue.

    Lettings

    Unfortunately, we have had to postpone these, including garage lets, while we are in lockdown. We will resume these as soon as possible. We are still taking applications for mutual exchanges, although we will not be able to complete these until the lockdown is over.

    Income Teams

    Our Income Teams are working usual hours and are available to help. If you are having difficulty paying your rent, then please be reassured that we have no intention of evicting residents who have contacted us to say they are having difficulty in paying their rent because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

    Due to the closure of Greenfields House, we will be unable to collect and bank cheques. If you have sent us a cheque or completed Direct Debit form in the past 7 days, we may not have processed it.

    Additionally, we will be unable to process new Direct Debit mandates.  If you usually pay using these methods, please get in touch and we can discuss an alternative method of payment.  Please do not worry if your payment is late as a result, we are here to help.

    If you already have an existing Direct Debit, these will be unaffected and will be collected in the usual way.

  • How do I help prevent coronavirus from spreading?

    Please follow NHS and Public Health England advice, including washing your hands with soap and water or hand sanitiser gel for 20 seconds. The latest advice is here: www.nhs.uk/coronavirus

Grass-cutting

  • Why is the area of grass at the front of my house not cut at the same time as other areas in my neighbourhood?

    We don’t own all grassed areas, shrub beds and hedges on every estate. Some are owned by Essex County Council or Braintree District Council, and the frequencies of cutting aren’t always the same.

Leasehold

  • What do I do if I am having difficulty paying my Service Charges for a leasehold property?

    Service Charges should be paid by 31 March of that financial year. If you are having difficulty paying your services, please contact Leasehold Services immediately to discuss alternative options.

    Contact details of other agencies that may be able to offer advice and assistance:

    1) Braintree District Council Housing Advisory/Welfare Rights Service: 01376 552525
    2) Citizens Advice Bureau. Braintree Witham or Halstead office: 0344 499 4719 or www.citizensadvice.org.uk/local/braintree-halstead-witham/
    3) National Debtline: 0808 808 4000 or www.nationaldebthelpline.org.uk/
    4) StepChange Debt Charity: 0800 138 1111 or www.stepchange.org/

    We also have our own Benefits Advice Service to ensure that you are receiving all the benefit that you are entitled to.

My Greenfields

  • Why can’t I check my rent account or book a repair on My Greenfields?

    Please check your emails for your verification code, which we will have sent you once we have verified your details. Don’t forget to check your junk mail.  You will need to enter this when you next log on to gain access to My Greenfields’ full services.

  • Can I join My Greenfields if I am a household member, not a tenant?

    No. Only tenants can use My Greenfields, not household members.

  • I’m a garage tenant, can I join My Greenfields?

    Yes – you can join My Greenfields in the same way that you would if you were a Greenfields tenant.

Neighbourhoods

  • Why hasn’t my recycling or rubbish been collected?

    Greenfields Community Housing does not collect any refuse. This includes: recycling bags, black bins, green bins or food bins. You will need to contact your local council for further help with refuse collection.

    If you are unsure which council is responsible for refuse collection in your area, you can find out by clicking this link: Gov.uk

  • I think I have a rat/mouse/pest in my property. How do I get rid of it?

    Greenfields Community Housing is not responsible for pest control. Please contact your local council. If that is Braintree District Council, then call 01376 552525.

    For a list of the pests that they deal with, click here: Pest Control

  • Can I have a pet in my Greenfields property?

    You have the right to keep normal domestic family pets which are suitable to your type of property. Please see your Tenancy Agreement for more information.

    However, dogs listed in the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and any animal listed in the Schedule of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 may not be kept. In addition, python snakes that can grow in excess of 7 feet long and boa constrictor snakes that can grow in excess of 9 feet long must not be kept.

    Greenfields have the right to insist that animals be removed if they are considered unsuitable for the property.

    If you wish to build outside accommodation, other than a hutch or exercise pen for small mammals, then you must apply for Landlord’s Consent here: https://www.greenfieldsch.org.uk/landlords-consent-form

Rent

  • What if I want to keep track of my charges and payments?

    You can sign up or log onto My Greenfields. Here, you can view your rent statements and make payments. You can also message us, book repairs and change your personal details. Just visit my.greenfieldsch.org.uk to register or log in.

  • I pay monthly and I don’t know how much to pay?

    We will help you calculate the payments. Please send a message on My Greenfields or email csc@greenfieldsch.org.uk to confirm the payments. Alternatively, call 01376 535400 and ask to speak to your Income Advisor. Rent free weeks will be included, so please don’t reduce them in December and March

  • What if I pay by direct debit?

    We will recalculate your payments based on your new rent and send you a letter confirming the amount at least two weeks before we collect the payment from your bank account. Your Direct Debit is calculated for the whole financial year and includes the Rent Free weeks.

  • What should I do if I receive Universal Credit?

    Your rent letter will include your new payments in the appendix at the end. Please log on to your journal and update the housing costs element with those figures. We do not have access to your journal, so we cannot do this for you. Please enter the figures correctly – your future payments to you could be reduced if there is an error.

  • What should I do if I receive housing benefit?

    If your Housing Benefit is paid direct to Greenfields, we will notify your local authority of the new charges. If your Housing Benefit is paid directly to yourself or you have only recently requested for it to be paid to us, please supply a copy of your increase letter to your local authority.

  • Is anyone consulted about these changes?

    Yes. The Community Gateway Group, led by residents, have voted in favour of the increase. The Board has also supported the decision.

  • I pay service charges. Are these affected?

    You will receive information about your service charges in your rent letter in a few weeks. They are intended to cover the cost of providing these services, and Greenfields does not make a profit on them.

  • I am a Greenfields shared owner. What’s happening with my rent?

    Your rent will go up by 2.7%.

  • Why has my rent gone up?

    For the last four years, your rent has been reduced by 1% each year in line with government policy. During this period, we have made savings while ensuring we still provide you with good services.
    However, every year inflation changes, and this means the cost of providing services such as repairs and maintenance changes. Government policy now allows housing associations to increase rent by a limited amount over inflation, and most of this increase will cover this.

    The rest will go towards our investment plans, including in new services and improvements to your home. This includes replacing approximately 300 heating systems, 80 bathrooms, 60 kitchens and 750 front doors. We plan to carry out 150 rewires and spend £430,000 on aids and adaptations to help you stay independent in your home. We also plan to invest more than £100,000 in our communities and build approximately 220 new homes in mid and north Essex for those who need them.

  • I’m a Greenfields tenant. What’s happening with my rent?

    From 6 April 2020, your rent will increase by 2.7%. You will receive your rent letter with full details from late February, but we wanted to give you the opportunity to plan future household budgets now.
    If you receive full Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, your payments will be reassessed based on your new rent. You will need to update your local authority or Universal Credit journal, and we’ve provided further details later in this FAQ.

    If you’re worried that you will not be able to pay rent, then we offer a range of support including financial advice and a service which ensures you receive the benefits you entitled to. Simply email csc@greenfieldsch.org.uk or call 01376 535400 and we will help.

  • Where can I find my Allpay reference number?

    Your Allpay reference number is the 19 digit number on your rent card. If you need a new rent card or just want the reference number, you can log onto My Greenfields by clicking here: My Greenfields or contact the Customer Service Team .  You can find our contact details by clicking here: Contact us

    For more information about your rent click on the link here: Paying your rent

  • When are the rent-free weeks?

    The rent-free weeks are the weeks beginning:

    21st December 2020

    28th December 2020

    22nd March 2021

    29th March 2021

    You can find our Payment Plan by clicking this link: Payment Plan

  • My Housing Benefit entitlement is changing. How much do I need to pay?

    We can only work out your revised payments once you have received a letter from your Council to advise of your new benefit entitlement. When you have this information, please contact the Income Team for further advice.

    If you pay by Direct Debit, we will calculate your new Direct Debit amounts taking into account your weekly rent, rent free weeks and any Housing Benefit that you receive. We will then send you a letter about 14 days before we change your payment to the new amount.

  • If I am in arrears, am I still entitled to the rent-free weeks?

    Yes. All Greenfields residents are in receipt of 4 rent free weeks within the financial year, however we ask that payments continue to be made through these weeks to reduce any outstanding debt.

    For more information click on the link here: Paying your rent

  • Are rent-free weeks included in Direct Debit payments?

    Yes –  we charge 48 weeks of the year. 48 divided by the 12 months = 4. We therefore collect 12 equal monthly payments of 4 week’s rent.

Rent Changes 2020-21

  • What if I want to keep track of my charges and payments?

    You can sign up or log onto My Greenfields. Here, you can view your rent statements and make payments. You can also message us, book repairs and change your personal details. Just visit my.greenfieldsch.org.uk to register or log in.

  • I pay monthly and I don’t know how much to pay?

    We will help you calculate the payments. Please send a message on My Greenfields or email csc@greenfieldsch.org.uk to confirm the payments. Alternatively, call 01376 535400 and ask to speak to your Income Advisor. Rent free weeks will be included, so please don’t reduce them in December and March

  • What if I pay by direct debit?

    We will recalculate your payments based on your new rent and send you a letter confirming the amount at least two weeks before we collect the payment from your bank account. Your Direct Debit is calculated for the whole financial year and includes the Rent Free weeks.

  • What should I do if I receive Universal Credit?

    Your rent letter will include your new payments in the appendix at the end. Please log on to your journal and update the housing costs element with those figures. We do not have access to your journal, so we cannot do this for you. Please enter the figures correctly – your future payments to you could be reduced if there is an error.

  • What should I do if I receive housing benefit?

    If your Housing Benefit is paid direct to Greenfields, we will notify your local authority of the new charges. If your Housing Benefit is paid directly to yourself or you have only recently requested for it to be paid to us, please supply a copy of your increase letter to your local authority.

  • Is anyone consulted about these changes?

    Yes. The Community Gateway Group, led by residents, have voted in favour of the increase. The Board has also supported the decision.

  • I pay service charges. Are these affected?

    You will receive information about your service charges in your rent letter in a few weeks. They are intended to cover the cost of providing these services, and Greenfields does not make a profit on them.

  • I am a Greenfields shared owner. What’s happening with my rent?

    Your rent will go up by 2.7%.

  • Why has my rent gone up?

    For the last four years, your rent has been reduced by 1% each year in line with government policy. During this period, we have made savings while ensuring we still provide you with good services.
    However, every year inflation changes, and this means the cost of providing services such as repairs and maintenance changes. Government policy now allows housing associations to increase rent by a limited amount over inflation, and most of this increase will cover this.

    The rest will go towards our investment plans, including in new services and improvements to your home. This includes replacing approximately 300 heating systems, 80 bathrooms, 60 kitchens and 750 front doors. We plan to carry out 150 rewires and spend £430,000 on aids and adaptations to help you stay independent in your home. We also plan to invest more than £100,000 in our communities and build approximately 220 new homes in mid and north Essex for those who need them.

  • I’m a Greenfields tenant. What’s happening with my rent?

    From 6 April 2020, your rent will increase by 2.7%. You will receive your rent letter with full details from late February, but we wanted to give you the opportunity to plan future household budgets now.
    If you receive full Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, your payments will be reassessed based on your new rent. You will need to update your local authority or Universal Credit journal, and we’ve provided further details later in this FAQ.

    If you’re worried that you will not be able to pay rent, then we offer a range of support including financial advice and a service which ensures you receive the benefits you entitled to. Simply email csc@greenfieldsch.org.uk or call 01376 535400 and we will help.

Repairs

  • I have no hot water or heating, is there anything I can do?

    If you’re experiencing a temporary loss of heating or hot water, we recommend you take a look at this guide before contacting us, to see if it helps.

    Please click on this link: Quick checks to make when you have no heating or hot water

  • Why is the water in my bath/shower not as hot as my basin water?

    This is most common in new build properties. Due to government legislation we are required to fit thermostatic mixer valves (TMV’s) to baths and showers to eliminate the risk of scolding when washing. The TMV’s are set by the manufacturer at 39 degrees.

  • What can I do about the damp/mould in my property?

    Most damp and mould problems in the home are caused by condensation and can be rectified by following our guidelines. You will find these by clicking on the link here: Controlling Condensation in Your Home leaflet

    You need to advise our Customer Services Team that you have started the process so they can update your account. Please follow the instructions in the leaflet for a minimum of 4 weeks. If the conditions do not improve, we will then send a damp referral to the Damp and Condensation Team who will be in contact with you to arrange a visit. You can contact us by clicking on this link: Contact us

  • My energy supplier wants to install a smart meter, do I need your permission for this?

    No, you do not need landlord’s consent to install a smart meter. Your energy meters are owned by your suppliers so they can upgrade them when required.

  • I have loss of power/lights, what should I do?

    It might be a general power cut – look out of the window or speak to your neighbours to see if other homes nearby have their lights on and call your electricity supplier for information.

    If no other houses have had a power cut, check the trip switches on your consumer unit (this used to be called the fuse board). A light bulb blowing or a faulty appliance may have tripped the main switch or one of the smaller switches for a single circuit in your home.

    You then need to follow the trip test instructions, which you can watch by clicking here: Repair Video Guides

    If you have total loss of power, but your neighbours have not lost theirs, you may need to check you have credit on your meter if you pay as you go. If you have just topped up but have no power, you will need to reset the payment meter. Please contact your supplier for help with this.

  • My bathroom light bulb or toilet seat needs replacing. What do I do?

    Light bulbs and toilet seats are the responsibility of tenants to replace, as stated in your Tenancy Agreement. You can watch a video to see how to do this by clicking here: Repair video guide

    If you are unable to fit them yourself, we have a handy person service where we can come out and fit them for you, but you will need to supply the light bulb or toilet seat yourself. The handyperson costs £12 per 1 hour slot.

  • The manhole cover near my house is overflowing. What do I do?

    If the drain is shared with a neighbour, you will need to contact your water supplier regarding this. In most cases this will be Anglian Water on 0800 771 881.

    If you are unsure if it is a shared drain or not, we would still recommend calling your water supplier in the first instance. They will advise if it is Greenfields Community Housing’s responsibility.

  • I think I might have a gas/carbon monoxide leak. What do I do?

    Please call Cadent (previously National Grid) on 0800 111 999 immediately. Once they have attended, you can contact our Customer Service Centre to book a job for our gas contractor to attend.

  • How do I set up my storage heaters?

    Watch our handy repairs video of how to set your storage heaters by clicking here: Repair video guide

  • I’m trying to adjust my storage heaters temperature but the buttons aren’t changing the settings.

    Check to see if the little red light is on next to the key symbol above the display on the heater itself. If it is on then the child lock feature has been enabled. To turn the child lock on or off simply hold down the plus and minus buttons at the same time until the key light turns on/off (This can take up to 30 seconds).

    If the buttons are completely unresponsive please contact our Customer Service Centre.

     

Shared Ownership

  • What is Shared Ownership?

    Shared Ownership helps you buy your own home if you cannot afford to purchase on the open market. Buying a Greenfields home through Shared Ownership allows you to own part of the property and rent the remainder from us.

  • How does shared ownership work?

    You initially purchase a share of the property – typically around 40% – and pay rent on the remainder. If your household income allows it, you can “staircase” by purchasing extra shares to increase how much of the property you own and reduce your rent.

  • Is it more affordable than renting a private property?

    Situations vary, but the total monthly mortgage and rent cost is usually around the same as renting a similar property privately. You are also building equity within the property.

  • Am I eligible for Shared Ownership?

    If your household income is less than £80,000 a year, you have funds for a deposit and legal fees but not enough to own a home outright, you may be eligible. You must also have an approved Help to Buy application.

  • Do banks lend for Shared Ownership mortgages?

    Yes. High Street banks and other lenders offer mortgages for households buying a Shared Ownership property.

  • How much deposit will I need?

    This varies depending on your mortgage – it is usually 5% or 10% of the purchase share.

  • Can I make home improvements and alterations to my Shared Ownership home?

    Yes you can – however consent will need to be given prior to the works starting. Please be aware that any new build defect warranties will be invalidated.

  • Can I buy extra shares or sell my home in the future?

    Yes to both. With Greenfields, you can increase your share by “staircasing” and eventually own 100% of your home. To sell, simply contact Greenfields and we will advertise your property on the Help to Buy website for 8 weeks. After that period, you can advertise on the open market with an estate agent.

Supporting documents

Click the links below to download useful information:

Contact us

Contact the Greenfields team on the information below:

My Greenfields

Visit My Greenfields

Email us

csc@greenfieldsch.org.uk

Text us

07860 024511

Connect with us

Call us on 01376 535400 or visit our social media pages by clicking on the buttons below.

What is a Community Gateway Association?

We give our residents the chance to be actively involved with Greenfields and have a say on how things are done. We provide additional opportunities and resources to our residents, beyond the development and maintenance of their homes. Click the button below to learn more.

My Greenfields

If you’re a Greenfields resident, you can pay your rent or report a repair by logging into your online account here. Click below.

My Greenfields

Our customer service team

Our customer service centre is open 8:30am to 5:00pm, Monday to Friday, for all enquires. Click the button below to get in touch.

Customer service

Latest news

Learn about the latest from Greenfields and what’s happening in your community. Click below to find out about our latest news and events.

Latest news

Living Wage Employer
Make a Stand
TPAS
IIP
CSE