Frequently Asked Questions for Service Personnel in Substitute Accommodation

Image showing the SFA (Service Family Accommodation) estate, built at Beacon Barracks in Stafford, UK.

Is my move into Substitute Accommodation still going ahead?

In line with the recent direction from MOD and single Services, only those assignments considered essential to operational capability and/or Defence’s COVID-19 response will take place. The notification on the overall impact on Postings and Household Moves in response to Covid-19 is here.
Mears is in discussion with DIO for details of moves deemed operationally essential. If your move is approved, Mears operatives will contact you to discuss specific arrangements.

Why have you asked me to move into a property that is in poor condition / unclean / not fully furnished?

The current Government restrictions on non-essential travel means that many of the cleaning companies, repairs and maintenance contractors and furniture suppliers normally used by Mears are either not operating or are only responding to emergency jobs. This has significantly restricted Mears’ ability to prepare properties to the usual standard for which they apologise. Your Relocation Coordinator will explore all options to ensure your property is prepared to as good a standard as possible.

Why have you cancelled my move in?

As indicated above, only those assignments considered operationally essential are going ahead. Therefore all non-essential moves are being cancelled until 1 July at the earliest.

Is my move out still going ahead?

That will depend on circumstances. For instance, a Service person may be required to move properties to meet an operationally essential assignment. In any cases likely to involve a move-out, Mears will discuss the matter with you before proceeding.

If I cancel my move out do you still require 40 days’ notice?

Yes. We will rescind notice to Landlords in most instances and the terms of our contract require 40 days’ notice.

What happens if I am told to cancel my move out due to all Postings and Assignments being cancelled until July?

Please let Mears know as soon as possible so they can work with the Landlord to try to mitigate the situation. In most cases, Mears will be able to rescind notice and keep you in the same property. Where that is not possible, Mears will work with you and DIO to find a solution.

I have been told to work from home so have moved out – what happens now?

If a Service person is now working from home, and was due to move out of their Substitute Accommodation, Mears will work in conjunction with the Landlord for the best solution to meet personal circumstances. It may be that Mears can retain the property until you are able to move out, or alternatively that they can move your belongings into storage. Mears will discuss the matter with you before proceeding further.

Why are you still coordinating Gas safety inspections?

Advice from the Health & Safety Executive is that such tests should continue and it remains Mears’ responsibility to ensure the safety of properties. These tests will therefore continue.

What do I do about maintenance issues that arise during lockdown?

Please continue to report any repair or maintenance issues that you find in your Substitute Accommodation property to Mears. These will be reported to the managing agent or Landlord in the usual manner. However, any work that is not deemed urgent or critical may not be carried out until the lockdown has been lifted. At that time agents and contractors will be dealing with a large backlog of work, so it may take longer than usual to arrange the repair.

Can Mears offer any assurance about the health of those attending properties?

Mears fully understands the concerns of Service personnel at this difficult time and the steps set out below are aimed at protecting the health and safety of Service personnel, their families, and Landlord and Agent Contractors. All works will be undertaken in accordance with Government guidelines, which include:

• Confirming in advance whether anyone in the property is self-isolating or social distancing.
• Remaining more than 2m from other people.
• Requesting occupants move to another room/area while the work is carried out.
• Cleaning tools and equipment afterwards using sanitisation spray or wipes.
• Washing hands for 20+ seconds using soap & warm water at the nearest available hand wash basin on arrival and before departure.
• Using anti-bacterial hand gel where there are no washing facilities.

Image: SFA (Service Family Accommodation) estate, built at Beacon Barracks in Stafford, UK. Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

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