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Updates concerning the Coronavirus outbreak

26 May 2020

Virus molecule

Advice surrounding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is changing daily, with regular updates from the Government and Public Health England.

On this page, we will keep you up-to-date with what we’re doing to keep our residents as safe as possible. The content reflects the best advice we have currently. We will update it as necessary, particularly if there are changes to public health guidance.

FOLLOWING THE GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCEMENT ON 10th MAY, AND THE STEPS TO EASE SOME LOCKDOWN RULES,  WE HAVE MADE A NUMBER OF KEY CHANGES TO OUR SERVICES. PLEASE READ THIS PAGE CAREFULLY.

We have taken these decisions based on Government advice.

What it means for you as a CODE resident:

  • * The “Stay at home” message has changed to “Stay Alert“, meaning from 13th May 2020 you can start to spend more time outside. If you are in or around our buildings please continue to keep two metres apart and only meet one person outside of our buildings who is not from your household.
  • * Business guidance means some industries are being encouraged to return to work. Some of our staff will be moving back into the offices but we are still trying to limit contact. We therefore encourage you to use other methods to contact us, whether that is by calling us on 0116 233 5678 (Leicester), 024 76 105 106 (Coventry).
    If you do need to come to the office, please call ahead to ensure that it is safe to do so and follow 2 metre social distancing rules.
  • * Our online chat service at www.codestudents.co.uk is still open 9am-10pm, Monday to Friday. We’ve adjusted our weekend hours, so you can now talk to us between 10am and 6pm Saturday and Sunday.
  • * Hospitality and other public places may reopen but not earlier than July. So sadly, our gym, cafe and communal spaces won’t be opening in the near future. Your fob will not grant you access to these areas (apart from for the laundry in Coventry – see below).
  • * In general, leaving your home – the place you live – to stay at another home is not allowed. But the government has said in their Coronavirus outbreak FAQs that students are now allowed to move permanently back to their family home.
    We will be issuing more guidance on this shortly but if you wish to leave imminently please contact us. We still believe that the collection of belongings is not considered as essential travel.
  • *We are trialling the re-opening of our parcels service. Starting on 13th May 2020 you will be able to collect parcels between Monday and Friday, 1pm to 3pm – but not in the same way you used to. We will now be putting in place a “contactless” parcel service, which will work using a one way system and strict social distancing measures. There will be other guidance to tell you what to do. Please follow all instructions carefully.
    It is important to us that CODE staff and students remain safe, so we will be monitoring the success of this pilot.
  • * Laundry:
    The laundry at Coventry will be open slightly longer, now open between 8am-2pm, Monday-Friday for all students. If you are currently a student working in the NHS and need access to the laundry outside of these times, please call 07719 314601. We will arrange access for you on production of a valid NHS Staff ID card.
    If two people are in the laundry, please use machines that are 2 metres apart. Once you have loaded/unloaded your machine please leave the laundry area immediately to allow someone else to use it.
    A wash cycle takes 40 minutes and a dry cycle 50 minutes. Please monitor these times to allow you to complete your laundry quickly.
    Do not use the communal spaces next door to the laundry for any reason, even while you are waiting for your washing. We will be checking fob activity and cctv and anyone found in the area will lose their rights to use the laundry.
  • * The laundry in Leicester remains open but we kindly ask it is used by a maximum of two people at a time to enable social distancing.
  • * We have free hire bikes that can be borrowed for up to an hour. To borrow one, give security a call and let them know you want to use it – please try and give them a bit of notice in case they are busy with other things. You will need to leave your ID with security.
    * Updates for those at CODE: We are sending other email updates to students who have told us they are still living at CODE. If you are staying in your flat but have not been receiving these, please let us know by emailing marketing@codestudents.co.uk

We are taking a number of steps to protect our staff and residents. This includes:

  • * Carrying out a COVID-19 risk assessment.
  • * Making sure high traffic areas, such as our gates and doorways, are cleaned regularly to decrease transmission risks.
  • * Ensuring we take all reasonable steps in maintaining a 2m distance throughout the site.
  • * Displaying advice signs in high traffic areas, including encouraging frequent hand-washing and advising residents on how to use lifts safely.
  • * Sending regular emails to students we know are on site, updating them on key information and Government advice.

 

Maintenance

* Upcoming work on installing smart meters at Leicester that was due to start on 25th March has been postponed indefinitely. We will be in touch once the lockdown has ended with more details.
* We may need to access your room to carry out essential fire safety tasks, such as testing our sprinkler system, if we need to do this we will give you advanced notice.

  • *We will only be responding to emergency maintenance requests, this will only cover having no electricity or water supply, a water leak or a problem with your heat or smoke detector.
  • * We will continue to respond to security calls but please be considerate to neighbours in relation to noise or other behaviour that could cause stress at this difficult time.
  • For emergencies involving a threat to life, call 999
  • * We are conducting some work on site, making essential repairs to some of our blocks. Any staff involved in this work should not come into contact with students, but will employ safe social distancing if they do.

 

Check out and deposits

As you are aware, the Government is beginning to ease its lockdown measures. It is now advising that students who left their student accommodation can travel back to collect their belongings, as long as they follow the precautions laid out in staying safe outside your home.

If you are returning keys Monday-Saturday, 9am to 5.30pm, please visit our Office. You may be asked to knock and wait to help us adhere to social distancing measures.

Outside of these hours please call our Security Team on 07512 074209.

If no one is available, you can also leave your keys in our red “Landlord’s postbox” which can be found in Block A outside the laundry. Please place your keys in an envelope with your name and room number if using this postbox (we will need your keys to allow us to process your refund).

Please remember, while on site wash your hands frequently and wherever possible stay at least 2 metres apart from people who are not members of your household. If you wish to wear PPE (personal protection equipment) please bring items such as face masks and gloves with you.

Don’t want to check out just yet? No problem, your room is yours until the end of your contract. If you’re staying in the same room next year, there’s also no need to return your keys or move your belongings.

Once you have handed in your keys, we will try to complete the checkout process as quickly as possible and also return your deposit as soon as we can (as long as there is no damage or you do not have no rent arrears). Please be patience while we do this. It is taking slightly longer than normal due to changes in our processes due to social distancing.

Because we are unable to hire out any cleaning equipment, we won’t charge you if you have been able to hoover or mop your floors. Although we would kindly ask you take out all rubbish from your room before leaving, including cleaning out your fridge.

 Rent and payments

Emails were sent to all tenants due to pay rent in April, detailing our rent position. The email was sent to the email address the booking was registered with. If you think you should have received an email and haven’t, please contact our online customer care team at www.codestudents.co.uk

We are mindful some students are facing financial challenges which is why we put in place a new hardship process for our students if they felt they may struggle to pay their rent. The deadline for hardship applications was 10pm on the 3rd May and the fund has now closed. We were able to offer discounts and payment plans for many people who applied through the hardship fund.

We are also continuing to refund other costs where possible, such as returning the price of any unused electricity for those on inclusive contracts and removing cancellation fees for 19/20 tenants (this applies to anyone who completed a cancellation form from the 24th March onwards and will be applied retrospectively, replacing any previous advice. Please note that other tenancy costs are still payable).

Our team are contacting all tenants and their guarantors with outstanding rent arrears by emails and letter to discuss next steps.

Other financial help

Consumer expert, Martin Lewis, has included this question in his latest email roundup:

What if my (or my parents’) income has dropped – does this affect how much student loan I can get?

When you apply to university, you get a standard loan that covers your tuition costs, but the loan you get to cover your general living costs – called the maintenance loan – varies, depending on household income and which country’s finance system you’re applying to…

– In England: The more the income, the less the loan received. This suggests parents should fill the gap, see our parental contribution calculator.
– In Wales: 
Everyone gets the same amount, but the higher your income, the more of it is a repayable loan rather than non-repayable grant.
– In Scotland & Northern Ireland: Its a mix of grant, loan and implied parental contribution. Higher income means less grant, more of the other two.

Typically, when you apply (whichever country you’re in) you’ll be asked to provide information about your income in the previous tax year. Yet, if your income this tax year will be at least 15% less – perhaps due to coronavirus – you can give your income details for the current tax year instead.

This is known as a “Current Year Income assessment” and could result in a bigger maintenance payout. It’s not been newly introduced due to coronavirus, but due to the economic effects of the virus, it’s likely to be relevant to a larger group of people.

You’ll need to make the finance application as normal (more info on how to do this), then you’ll need to fill in the current year income assessment form separately.

How you can help

  •  You can ‘do your bit’ by staying alert.
  • There are a limited number of things you can do from 13th May 2020:
    • * spend time outdoors – for example sitting and enjoying the fresh air, picnicking, or sunbathing
    • * meet one other person from a different household outdoors – following social distancing guidelines
    • * exercise outdoors as often as you wish – following social distancing guidelines
    •  * use outdoor sports courts or facilities, such as a tennis or basketball court, or golf course – with members of your household, or one other person while staying 2 metres apart
    • * go to a garden centre

    At all times, you should continue to observe social distancing guidelines when you are outside your home, including ensuring you are 2 metres away from anyone outside your household. As with before, you cannot:

    • * visit friends and family in their homes
    • * exercise in an indoor sports court, gym or leisure centre, or go swimming in a public pool
    • * use an outdoor gym or playground
    • * visit a private or ticketed attraction
    •  * gather in a group of more than two (excluding members of your own household), except for a few specific exceptions set out in law (for work, funerals, house moves, supporting the vulnerable, in emergencies and to fulfil legal obligations)

    If you are showing coronavirus symptoms, or if you or any of your household are self-isolating, you should stay at home – this is critical to staying safe and saving lives.

  • If you think you have symptoms of coronavirus

    The current NHS advice is to self-isolate for 7 days if you or someone you live with has either:

    • * a high temperature/fever
    • * a new, continuous cough
    • * Loss of or a change in your normal sense of smell/taste

    If you feel you need to self-isolate, please email health@codestudents.co.uk as soon as possible and we will advise you on how we can support you, including advice on food deliveries and rubbish collection. Please remember no rubbish should ever be left in corridors or stairwells.

    We also advise you read the NHS advice about staying at home. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying in your room.

    If you hear of other residents self-isolating

    The Government advice is to self-isolate for a period of 7 days if you show the above symptoms. These symptoms can also be present in cases of the flu or a bad cold – so if someone is self-isolating it does not necessarily mean they have Coronavirus.

    Our studio flats, with their own bathroom and kitchen, allow someone to protect themselves and others during the 7 days required for self-isolation. The virus is not airborne, so if someone in self-isolation opens a window, that is safe.

    Self-isolation is a precautionary measure so please be understanding and sympathetic if you hear of other tenants who are doing this, as it is likely they are also feeling unwell.

    There is no need to panic if someone near you is self-isolating but if you are worried about the situation please speak to the Office.

    Mind – the mental health charity – have also issued some advice in relation to the Coronavirus and your well-being.

    If you are feeling worried or distressed, Student Minds – Coronavirus Resources offer guidance and support