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Health and Safety within HMOs during COVID-19

Posted 22/06/2021 by Your Move
Categories: Landlords
People sat around a table eating and drinking

As a landlord, you have a duty of care to your tenants and that responsibility has been expanded over the course of the pandemic. If you have an House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), it’s quite possible that both you and your tenants have been a little confused over the rules and guidelines for mixing indoors, given that in most multi-lets all the occupants are technically separate households!

Now that we’ve been in this pandemic for some time, you might already be doing all the of following - however, it’s worth reading on. 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 just setting up a new HMO, you can use it as a handy checklist.

With the country potentially opening up over the summer, we will aim to keep you updated on changes, until then, here are some of the basics to consider.

Basic health and safety for HMOs

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 that everyone in shared housing should be doing are:

  1. Washing their hands frequently, for 20 seconds (or using hand sanitiser) and trying not to touch their face
  2. Cleaning/disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, e.g. kitchen counter tops and door handles
  3. Opening windows to let plenty of fresh air circulate

It’s advisable to put notices up at the entrance to the property and in the main communal spaces, to remind your tenants of these three things.

Provide disinfectants in communal areas

We’d suggest you provide your tenants with a decent supply of hand sanitiser, disinfectant and disposable wipes or paper towels for the communal areas. As long as restrictions allow, you should also arrange to have the property ‘deep cleaned’ once a week.

Social distancing

While it might be difficult for people who live in the same house to keep one or two meters away from each other all the time, it’s sensible to try to limit the number of people in a room at any one time and 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. But if the space and layout would make that difficult, then tenants should use it one at a time.

QR code for contact tracing

It’s also a good idea 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, the person who’s tested positive should take medical advice and everyone in the house must isolate for the recommended length of time - commonly 10 days. As far as possible, all tenants should stay in their own rooms. When using communal areas outside their room, they should wear a mask, maintain a 2m distance from other occupants and make sure 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-19 specific risk assessments at the start of the pandemic and we’ve been following appropriate health and safety procedures for all the properties we let and manage. If you’ve got any questions about keeping your tenants and contractors safe, we’re always here to help – just contact your local Your Move branch and speak to one of the team.

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