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Living in shared accommodation (HMOs) during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Living in shared accommodation (HMOs) during the Covid-19 Pandemic

The following advice is taken from this Government Guidance.

Please bear in mind that updated guidance has been issued separately to this guidance since its publication indicating a relaxation of some social distancing measures for those who are not displaying symptoms of Covid-19.

What should I do if I live with other people I am not related to and share facilities or common areas?

This could include:

  • A flat or house share where you live with another person with whom you are not related and share cooking and bathroom facilities.
  • A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), which is where three or more people who are from two or more different families live together and share cooking or bathroom facilities.
  • Co-living where multiple people/households share some facilities or common areas

If you share facilities or common areas with other people, all residents should always do their very best to follow guidance to stay at home and away from others. Everyone in the household should regularly wash their hands, avoid touching their face, and clean frequently touched surfaces.

You can find Government guidance on cleaning your home to minimise the risk of infection here.

The Government has issued guidance for households with possible coronavirus (covid19) infection. The same guidance applies to occupants of shared properties. All the occupants of the home should behave in the same way as a single household if one or
more occupants have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19).

This means that if you are a tenant who shares with people you are not related to and develop symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), you should self-isolate at home for 7 days from when the symptoms started. In line with Government guidance, all other residents of the home must also stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days, providing they remain well for that time. Should they develop symptoms they should then self-isolate for 7 days from the onset of symptoms or longer if symptoms persist.

Where possible, individuals should not go out even to buy food or other essentials, and any exercise should be taken within your home.

What if my building/block has shared spaces and facilities such as social areas?

Landlords and/or managing agents should help by, for example, closing non-essential indoor communal space where it would not be possible to maintain social distancing (e.g. small shared spaces for use by more than one household).

If you develop symptoms of coronavirus, are clinically vulnerable or shielding, then you should not use these facilities, regardless of whether they remain open.

Non-essential communal space does not include shared kitchens, bathrooms, lavatories or sitting rooms. If you share essential communal space, you should follow the guidance for households with possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

Shared outdoor spaces such as communal gardens may remain open for use by tenants, but Government guidance on maintaining social distancing must be followed.

You can exercise outside as often as you wish and you can also sit and rest outside – exercise or recreation can be alone, with members of your household, or with one other person from outside your household, while keeping two metres apart at all times.

Grounds maintenance and estate services can continue. When undertaking such work, landlords should have regard to relevant guidance on social distancing in the workplace, available here.

What should I do if I am clinically vulnerable or shielding and I live in rented accommodation with other people?

This could include clinically vulnerable and shielding people who are living in shared accommodation with other people they are not related to.

Residents who are clinically vulnerable and shielding should, with the help of other people in the household, minimise as much as possible the time they spend in shared spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and sitting areas. Shared spaces should be kept well ventilated.

If they can, they should use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household. If residents share a bathroom or kitchen with a vulnerable person, it is important that this is cleaned every time it is used, for example by wiping surfaces. Alternatively, a
rota could be used, with the vulnerable person using the facilities first.

Extremely clinically vulnerable and shielding residents who cannot effectively shield can also speak to their local authority about alternative housing solutions. Please refer to the guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19.

If you are shielding, please make sure to let your local branch know asap.

This is advice to landlords who let properties where a tenant has Covid-19:

I rent out a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and one of the tenants has the virus. Am I obliged to remove them or find my tenants another place to stay?

No. Nobody can be removed from their home because of COVID-19.

Landlords are not obliged to provide alternative accommodation for tenants if others in the property contract the virus.

You could help by, for example, closing non-essential communal space where it would not be possible to maintain social distancing (e.g. small shared spaces for use by more than one household).

The Government has issued specific guidance on what to do if someone in your household has contracted the virus, including self-isolating the whole household for 14 days. You can find that guidance here.

Sections 3.5 and 3.6 of this guidance set out information for tenants living in shared accommodation. You may also wish to direct your tenants to Government guidance on cleanliness and hygiene for non-medical locations here.

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