Information for families during the coronavirus outbreak


01   Lockdown in England – update from DIO

DIO has issued new guidance as a result of the four-week lockdown in England until 2 December.

In accordance with current COVID-19 safe working arrangements and Government guidance, the following measures will be applied from 5 November:

Improvement works – Amey will continue to undertake improvement works on void properties. In occupied properties, internal and external improvement projects will continue where occupants are not self-isolating.

Move-in/outs – Amey will reintroduce ‘virtual’ pre-move-out and move-in/out inspections to minimise contact and reduce the operational impact of delayed moves or follow-on assignments.

Safety checks – provided occupants are not self-isolating, planned statutory and mandatory checks will continue as these are safety critical (Amey will phone ahead to confirm with occupants before attending the property).

Response maintenance – all levels of maintenance (emergency, critical, urgent and routine) will be undertaken during this lockdown period.

Grounds maintenance – these tasks will continue as required in accordance with social distancing guidelines.

If you have concerns about contractors visiting your home, please contact Amey before any visit is due, to update them and to rebook your visit.

Further information can be found on Amey’s webpages.

Moving in and out of SFA

The Government has issued guidance on moving house, and moves are being permitted; this situation will continue to be monitored. If Service personnel are due to move into or out of SFA throughout the UK during the lockdown they should contact Amey for up-to-date guidance.

Substitute Accommodation

The lockdown may restrict the ability of Mears to provide a full Substitute Accommodation service. For example, although Government guidance indicates that house moves can still take place, the closure of letting agents and hotels may impact on the ability to source properties during this period. The latest up to date guidance will be placed on the GOV.UK site as soon as possible. If Service personnel are due to move during this time, or require any information regarding Substitute Accommodation, including repairs and maintenance, please refer to this site.

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02   Working safely on the SFA estate

Despite the current COVID-19 restrictions, DIO and Amey are focussed on providing the full range of accommodation services, while ensuring the safety of Service families and their own staff.

As an Army family you can play your part if you need Amey to visit your SFA – when you contact the Amey call centre regarding repairs or maintenance to your SFA, you must inform staff if anyone in your household is self-isolating or has COVID-19 symptoms.

In addition, Amey staff will follow Government guidelines Working safely during COVID-19 in other people’s homes and protect families’ health and safety by:

  • Confirming in advance whether anyone at the property is self-isolating or social distancing
  • Wearing appropriate PPE, including a face covering, in your home
  • Washing hands for 20 seconds or more using soap and warm water at the nearest available hand wash basin on arrival and before departure
  • Using anti-bacterial alcohol-based hand gel where there are no hand washing facilities
  • Wearing an ID card in a visible position
  • Remaining more than two metres from other people
  • Asking occupants to move to another room/area while the work is carried out
  • Cleaning tools and equipment using sanitisation spray or wipes.

Further details on how Amey will carry out repairs, maintenance and mandatory checks in your home, fully in line with Government and devolved administration advice, can be viewed in this video animation.

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03   Landlords must now give tenants six months’ notice to vacate

If you are a landlord looking to ask your tenants to leave during the current pandemic, please be aware that the government has recently changed the notice period to six months for most tenants. Remember to factor this into your calculations if you intend to move back in on a specific date.

For more details see, www.gov.uk/government/news/government-has-changed-the-law-so-most-renters-have-a-6-month-notice-period

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04   Moving back into SFA in the UK from an overseas posting?

If you are returning to the UK from a country that is not currently on the Government’s up to date list of Coronavirus (COVID-19): travel corridors and moving into SFA then you must appoint a proxy to undertake the move-in appointment on your behalf whilst you are in the quarantine period.

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05   Hotel closures

AFF is aware that there have been some issues with families arriving at hotels booked through GBT as part of a house move, only to find that they are closed.  

Thereforeif you are due to stay in a hotel, please ensure that you make contact with your hotel before travelling as hotels may be required to close their doors temporarily at short notice due to the continued impact of COVID-19. The hotel telephone number will be contained in your confirmation.  

Should you experience any problems, please contact the GBT team 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 0203 668 2210.  

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06   SFA safety checks

Carrying out statutory and mandatory checks is a legal requirement for landlords, including DIO. These checks are essential to maintain a safe and compliant SFA estate.

DIO understands the concerns of Service families, especially those who are self-isolating and/or shielding, in allowing access to their homes so these checks can be carried out.

However, the number of overdue checks has risen significantly, which presents a danger to affected occupants and their neighbours. Guidance on how safety checks will be carried out, in line with Government and devolved administration advice has been issued. This has been reinforced by a video (see below) to reassure families that the safety of occupants and Amey operatives is a priority when checks are carried out to keep their homes, and those of their neighbours, safe.

AFF would like to encourage all families to allow Amey operatives access to their properties to allow these vital safety checks to be carried out. If the issue is not resolved, more robust measures may be considered to gain access to properties.

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07   Removals – packing boxes

Normal removals policy is that the MOD pays for a full pack and unpack service for families – there is no requirement for families to pack anything prior to the removals team arriving and therefore there is no contractual obligation for packing boxes to be delivered to you before the day.

Should you have an exceptional need to pack earlier (for example, to help children with additional needs), you need to discuss this with the removals company and, in these situations, boxes will be provided

Historically some companies have, as a goodwill gesture and at their own expense, dropped off boxes if they have been in the area and may well still be able to do this if requested, however, it is not a requirement for them to do so.

COVID-19 has presented some complications to the moving process and as a result (as of 24 June 2020) the removals team is not able to touch some high risk of infection items, i.e. unwashed clothes, and it is requested that these items are placed in plastic bags on the day of the move so that they can be safely placed in boxes by the removal team. This is basically the used bed linen and towels from the night before and any unwashed clothes so it shouldn’t be more than a maximum of two large plastic bags (bin bags would be ideal).

The removal team will provide cartons and wardrobe boxes on the day of the move and it is requested that the family member remaining in the house places all clothes in these during the packing process.

AFF understands that many families want to get ahead of the game by packing items themselves but would ask for understanding of the contract and of the pandemic situation. With many moves taking place over the next few months there will always be new families on the patch who have boxes they can pass on to you so if you need boxes do try this approach first.

See the Agility website for the most up-to-date information and guidance on packing – scroll down and click on Agility – Covid19 Operating ConditionsV3.2FINAL – 240520.pdf

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08   Move-in/move-out queries

Amey Occupancy Services staff continue to work remotely and can be contacted by email. However, phone calls are now being diverted from the call centre to staff at home.

For applications and moves related to new, routine assignments and where you can access the e-1132, you can view the status of your application and book move-in/move-out appointments online and should book removals via the usual process via the Agility website. Please avoid contacting Occupancy Services by telephone unless your issue is urgent and continue to use email so that their day-to-day work can continue.

For more information on the renewal of moves, including the packing process, click here

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09   DIO - Update 21 August

DIO has recently updated its FAQs to cover the restart of house moves, more information on gas and electrical safety inspections and project works on SFA restarting. Click here for more details and if you have any questions please contact AFF’s Housing Specialist Cat Calder at housingsupport@aff.org.uk and they will be fed back to DIO for clarification.

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10   Joint Service Housing Advice Office

The Joint Service Housing Advice Office (JSHAO) is currently unable to receive paper applications for the MOD Referral Scheme. Please send any applications to RC-Pers-JSHAO-0Mailbox@mod.gov.uk

Further information on the scheme can be found here

Due to new working patterns as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, the JSHAO landline contact numbers (Civ: 01252 787574 and Mil: 94222 7574) can no longer be staffed. If you do need to get in touch please use the mobile number 07814 612120.

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11   FAM pilot

FAM Cell

Following Government guidance, the FAM Cell teams are now all working from home.

If you are already on the pilot, the FAM Cell staff will continue to support you, and payments will continue as usual during this time.

If you have yet to submit your Accommodation Preference Form please speak to your local FAM Cell team:

FAM pilot

Although the Pilot will operate as normal, the following restrictions will apply until further notice:

  • PRS applications will be processed. However, due to current Government COVID-19 restrictions, Service personnel will be informed that they should not take any further action (such as applying for PRS payments/deposits) until the FAM Cell notify them to do so.

Once the COVID-19 government restrictions are lifted, Service personnel who had to be allocated SFA during this period but would have chosen the PRS option in normal circumstances, will have that choice to move mid-tour (at MOD expense subject to policy) should they choose to do so.

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12   Disturbance Expense

Please see our allowances page for more information.

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13   Amey updates (Updated 14 Aug )

Amey has provided general guidance for families living in SFA on their website.

Amey Occupancy Services
Normal services have resumed and families can now contact Occupancy Services through Amey’s usual channels. Amey has improved their digital offering and have introduced a number of easy to use web forms available on their website and are ideal for occupancy requests such as encroachments, business from home, visitor request and pet requests.

Moving-in appointment form
Moving-out appointment form

Reporting repairs and maintenance
Amey is continuing to ask families to raise non-urgent repairs digitally. To do so, please click here.

For all urgent repairs, please call the Amey Customer Service Centre as usual at 0800 707 6000 (Repairs Option 1). Please inform the advisors if you or your family are self-isolating.

Face-to-face customer service centres

As a precaution Amey has closed their face-to-face local customer service centres for the time being. Families can continue to contact their local customer service advisor via phone or email and contact details are advertised locally on site.

Compensation for missed appointments

All is working pretty much as normal now although DIO has a backlog of claims that they are working on. The number of enquiries about whether a claim is being processed is actually delaying the work to get claims resolved so please limit contact with the team so that they can focus on processing all claims as quickly as possible.

Face coverings (Update added 14 Aug )

All Amey engineers will be wearing face coverings when they are entering and working in your homes.

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14   DIO - Updated 20 May

DIO has issued guidance and information for families living in SFA.

I’ve made a Stage 3 complaint recently but not heard anything?
Due to current movement restrictions, the MOD Accommodation team are unable to retrieve any Stage 3 housing complaint letters, which may have been sent through.

They will be unable to access any letters that have been sent in the last month. If possible, families are asked to resend their complaint via email. If not, these will be addressed when they return to working from the office.

Any future Stage 3 complaints should be sent to People-Accom-ACRP-Stage3@mod.gov.uk

(Update added 20 May) Return to routine assignments

DIO has issued further information about the return to routine assignments.  You may also want to see Return to Routine assignment information from the chain of command.

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15   Mears

Mears has produced FAQs for families living in SSFA.

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