Covid 19 and Landlords
Covid 19 and HMO's
HMOs provide homes for a variety of tenants, but they can sometimes house vulnerable people. Keeping their accommodation in a decent state might be a challenge. This isn't to stigmatise anyone, it's recognising that some people have difficult lifestyles with problems that can be reflected in their homes. The Coronavirus crisis underlines how landlords (including those working through a manager or agent) have a duty of care to tenants, especially the more vulnerable. There is a lot of discussion at landlord forums about what is 'good and clean decorative repair' as outlined in the Management Regulations for HMOs. Generally, this doesn't mean a landlord is responsible for the daily cleaning, the important thing is that conditions are 'safe.' We are in unprecedented times, but the word 'safe' would certainly cover measures to prevent the transmission of disease. So, landlords should be making sure that common areas in an HMO don't represent any sort of infection risk.
As its best for landlords to avoid unnecessary visits, and things may be better sorted by phone. Check tenants have adequate cleaning materials and that common areas are clean with no obvious problems. Be prepared to leave extra cleaning materials, on the doorstep for your tenants to use. Make sure tenants understand good hygiene practice, both in their personal care and for facilities shared with others. If you have concerns about a tenant who needs support visit the SMBC COVID resilience website and request for emergency support from the council. We can provide you with leaflets with simple explanations of hand washing and good hygiene practices (in different languages if required) for you to place in your HMOs. If you require some posters, please email Landord_Licensing@sandwell.gov.uk and mark the request POSTERS. You should advise your tenants to set up a rota for the use the kitchen and bathroom, instructing them to clean both rooms thoroughly before and after use, especially if any tenants are showing the symptoms of Coronavirus or are self-isolating.
As a HMO landlord, you should already be advising your tenants to keep up-to-date with government guidance on dealing with COVID-19. They should only call 111 If they're unable to access the service online. As well as a responsibility for yourself and any family, you also have a duty of care to your tenants as an HMO landlord. You may however have to go that extra mile to help your tenants. You may need to offer to help get supplies of food and other items to them, but you shouldn't enter the property unless absolutely necessary. If any of your tenants show symptoms that don't improve after their isolation period, experience shortness of breath or have other more serious symptoms, they should contact NHS 111's online service.
As well as the advice outlined in this website and keeping lines of communication open with the people living in your HMOs, there are other things you can do to ensure your tenants are well looked after during the Coronavirus outbreak:
- Post the PHE self-isolation poster in common areas of your HMOs.
- Familiarise yourself with PHE guidance on decontaminating your HMOs should tenants become sick with COVID-19.
- Request that any cleaning service you provide is extra thorough with cleaning your HMOs, whilst observing social distancing.
- Should you need to cancel cleaning services due to a tenant, or tenants, self-isolating, supply tenants with additional cleaning materials.
- Ensure your tenants have comfortable work stations in their rooms if they're working from home.
- Make sure they have sufficient WiFi and that the service can support additional usage
Advice from Public Health England
- Use your usual household cleaning products, like detergents and bleach, these are very effective at dealing with the virus.
- Clean all frequently touched surfaces; this is really important if you have an older or vulnerable person in the house.
- Clean a shared bathroom thoroughly each time you use it.
- Personal waste (such as used tissues) and disposable cleaning cloths can be stored securely in disposable rubbish bags. Place these in another bag, tied securely and kept separate from other waste. Put this aside for at least 72 hours before putting it in your usual external bin.
- Other waste can be disposed of as normal. To reduce the chance of dispersing virus through the air, don't shake dirty laundry. Wash items using the manufacturer's instructions. All laundry can be washed in the same load.
- If you don't have a washing machine, wait 72 hours after your isolation period ends before going to a launderette.
- Do not share towels, including hand and tea towels.
We will be sending a letter to HMO Landlords in the post shortly. You can have a look at the letter here.