How to ensure your HMO tenants stay safe during COVID-19

Posted 29/07/2021 by Reeds Rains
Group of friends

With most occupants of multi-lets being separate ‘households’, but renting in such a way that they share communal facilities, the rules and guidelines on how many people can mix indoors during the pandemic can become a little confusing. As such, the most responsible thing for you to do as a landlord is encourage your tenants to err on the side of caution and provide them with as much help to do that as you can.

Given that we’ve been in this pandemic for some time now, you may already have all the following in place. However, do remember that you should be running through the rules and best practice with all new tenants, so this may be a helpful reminder and, if you’re establishing a new HMO, you can use it as a handy checklist. If we are managing your let for you, we’ll be able to help you keep up to date with the latest changes.

Public health advice is that the risk of spreading coronavirus is greatest when people spend a lot of time together indoors without proper ventilation. As such, according to government guidelines, the three key things for everyone in shared housing to do are:

  1. Wash their hands frequently, for 20 seconds – or use hand sanitiser – and avoid touching their face
  2. Clean/disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as kitchen counter tops and door handles
  3. Open windows to let plenty of fresh air circulate.

We’d recommend you have notices stating this at the entrance to the property and in the main communal spaces. We’d also advise that you provide your tenants with an adequate supply of hand sanitiser, disinfectant and disposable wipes or paper towels for the communal areas and, as restrictions allow, have a cleaner visit the property weekly to do a ‘deep clean’.

It’s also sensible for you to limit the number of people in a room at any one time and to put up notices to that effect. For example, if it’s possible to maintain at least a 1m distance in the kitchen, then you might suggest two people can use it at the same time; however, if the space and layout would make that difficult, then state that tenants should use it one at a time.

For the purposes of contact tracing, it’s also advisable to create an NHS QR code poster that you can put up in the hallway, so that any visitors to the property can check in and out. This can be easily done via the GOV.UK website.

 

If anyone in the property tests positive

In this case, medical advice should be sought and everyone in the house must isolate, staying in their own rooms as far as possible for the recommended length of time, commonly 10 days. When outside their room – for instance, when using the kitchen or bathroom - they should wear a mask and maintain a 2m distance from other occupants, ensuring they disinfect all surfaces after use. There should not be any visitors to the property, unless there is an emergency.

Full government guidance is available online here.

As managing agents, we carried out Covid-specific risk assessments at the start of the pandemic and have appropriate health and safety procedures in place for all the properties we let and manage. If you have any questions about keeping your tenants and contractors safe, we are always here to help – simply contact your local Reeds Rains branch and speak to one of the team.

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