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Coronavirus - Minimising the risk to health

Last updated 22 June 2020

Introduction

As the coronavirus restrictions begin to lift in England and Wales, tenants and landlords will face less restrictions on their movement. However, landlords will still need to bear in mind that some tenants may be more vulnerable than others, and they also need to remain alert to their tenants developing coronavirus symptoms.

This guidance has been updated in line with the latest Government guidance.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are 

  • a high temperature
  • a new cough where you keep on coughing – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more episodes of coughing in a day
  • losing or there being a change to your sense of smell or taste

What should everyone be doing?

As the country begins to re-open, those who are not symptomatic or shielding are advised they can -

  • spend time outdoors in groups of up to six people provided they are following social distancing guidelines
  • go to work if the work cannot be performed at home and the workplace is allowed to reopen
  • go on public transport provided they are wearing face coverings such as masks
  • form a support bubble with one other household where the person lives alone or is a single parent. This support bubble can stay overnight with each other in their respective homes.
  • visits shops and outdoor attractions such as zoos

Those who are not symptomatic or shielding should still be seeking to minimise contact with other households where possible however and a number of restrictions remain in place. People are advised to continue following the Government's guidance on staying safe outside the home. In particular they should  remain at least two meters apart from each other when outside and not meet people indoors who are not part of the same support bubble. 

What should I do if I develop these symptoms or notice them in a tenant?

Anyone who lives alone with even mild symptoms is now advised to self-isolate for seven days. 

For people who live with others, or have formed a support bubble, the advice is for all members of the household and the support bubble to self-isolate for 14 days from the point the first person showed symptoms. If anyone does develop symptoms towards the end of this period they should still isolate for seven days from the point of showing symptoms.

If any ill person in the household or bubble has not had any signs of improvement and have not already sought medical advice, they should contact NHS 111 online. If your home has no internet access, you should call NHS 111.

The cough may persist for several weeks in some people, despite the coronavirus infection having cleared. A persistent cough alone does not mean someone must continue to self-isolate for more than 7 days.

What is the advice for tenants who are self-isolating, particularly in shared properties?

It's important that anyone self-isolating follows the Government's advice, to minimise the risk of infecting others. This is particularly important in houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) where individuals share amenities.

It’s also important that tenants in shared properties let the property manager and their fellow tenants know if they have symptoms, as the Government advises that the whole household should now self-isolate for 14 days.

What is the advice for tenants with greater risk factors?

Those who are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, are strongly advised to stay at home as much as possible and keep visits outside to a minimum.

Previously the advice was to remain indoors but the advice is now updated:

  1. Those who wish to spend time outdoors should take extra care to maintain the two-metre gap from other people.
  2. They can spend time outdoors with one other person from their household, or one other household.
  3. Take extra care to wash hands regularly
  4. Avoid gatherings of any size either outdoors or indoors
  5. Strictly avoid contact with anyone who is displaying symptoms of COVID-19

If I do interact with my tenants during this time what should I be doing?

You should consider whether it is necessary to interact with your tenant during this period. You should be avoiding any interactions that cannot be done from home so wherever possible you should only communicate via phone, text, email or video chat tools such as Skype or Zoom.

If it is absolutely essential, and you and they are not symptomatic, or being advised to shield themselves due to risk factors, then you should practice social distancing during any visits.

You and any contractors should also ensure you are following the Government's guidance on handwashing while visiting the property.

What should I do if my tenants are not showing symptoms?

While tenants are responsible for their own health, you may wish to signpost tenants to official advice by email and advise tenants to keep up to date with the latest advice where necessary.

The NHS advice includes guidance on simple hygiene measures which everyone can practice to minimise transmission of the virus.

You should avoid visiting the property as much as possible.

Landlords may also wish to consider providing additional support for vulnerable tenants, such as the elderly, disabled and those with a long-term illness. You should only do this is if you are not symptomatic and you should practice strict social distancing when you do.

What steps should I take to minimise health risks in my HMO properties?

Tenants should follow the Government advice.  Landlords may wish to consider emailing copies of government advice, as well as having soap and/or sanitiser sent to the property.

Tenants should be encouraged to inform housemates if they are self-isolating or have become ill as the whole household will need to self-isolate.

The Government has issued guidance on decontamination in non-clinical settings which HMO landlords may want to familiarise themselves with.

Should a deep clean be necessary, the landlord should bear the cost.  Cleaning of properties between tenancies should be thorough.

What steps should tradespeople take to minimise health risks?

Tradespeople are allowed to continue working in properties for essential work. While in the property they should be following practices such as regular hand washing between visits, social distancing and avoiding touching their face to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.

Further guidance on this can be found at our property management page for coronavirus.

What is social distancing?

As part of the updated strategy for slowing the spread of the virus, the Government is suggesting that everybody try to practice social distancing as much as is pragmatic.  In most situations, the guidance is still to try and minimise the number of social interactions each person has by advising those who can to work from home, avoid meeting other households, and to maintain a two-meter gap from other people while outside.

Outside of their normal life, most landlords will notice this practice via an increasing number of tenants working from home over this period. 

For tenants and landlords who are pregnant, have an underlying health condition, or are aged 70 or over, the Government is strongly advising they follow social distancing more stringently than the rest of the population.

What should I be doing as a landlord in regards to social distancing?

Contact your tenants and find out if any of them would fall into the higher-risk categories that lead to more extensive social distancing practices. These extremely vulnerable groups have their own specific guidance available here.

If you know which of your tenants, if any, will fall into the higher-risk categories, this will help you when deciding whether or not you need to visit the property for inspections, etc.

How should I plan for managing my properties if I need to self-isolate?

If you have identified that you need to self-isolate, it’s important to avoid exposing your tenants to risk. It’s also important to plan as there is a high likelihood that you may need to self-isolate in future, whether due to symptoms of the virus or needing to follow social distancing measures.

You should put in place alternative arrangements for the management of their properties and ensure tenants are aware of these.  This may involve contact by telephone, email or text only and an agent or friend temporarily taking on the management responsibility.

It's important to make contingency plans now as you may need to implement them at short notice.

If you require financial support during this time please see our guide on this for landlords.

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