Update For Landlords On Coronavirus.

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Coronavirus

The Guide for landlords to reduce the risk of health dangers to their tenants?

This is the latest update following on from our previous article Covid-19: Update 4. The Government has now announced a new tiered system of restrictions for different areas of England in relation to coronavirus. Dependent upon the rate of infection in those areas. This new information has different restrictions on gatherings inside of homes, businesses as well as being outdoors.

The guidance has now been updated in line with the latest Government guidance. From mediums risks (tier 1) high risks (tier 2) and very high (tier 3) all the references relate to higher risk settings where appropriate.

There is guidance for different tiers.

It is unfortunate that rates of infection are uneven across the Country and therefore different areas have different regulations. The Government has decided to introduce a tiered system setting out guidance for people in these areas from medium through to very high depending on the risk of the level of infection. It is important for landlords to understand that there are further restrictions on social gatherings and interactions with others.

What should we be doing on the new rules?

Where people live in designated areas such as tier 1 under the new system, the national guideline applies. People are advised to continue following the Government guidance on staying safe outside the home and click here. They should remain at least 2 metres apart from each other when outside and 1 metre if they are wearing face coverings. When seeing friends and family outside your household you should only meet in groups of six or less.

What should people be doing in higher risk areas?

In a higher risk area of (tiers 2 and 3) further restrictions on social gatherings are in place with household gatherings permitted in any indoor setting. Gatherings of up to six people are allowed outdoors, however.

You should keep yourself aware of exactly the restrictions and any changes as we believe that this may occur on a regular basis.

These restrictions do not prevent landlords or their contractors at this moment in time visiting the property to engage in work. Yet, you need to ensure that not only yourself, but your contractors pay close attention on the Government guidelines on working safely in people’s homes.

The Governments guidance for these areas is to work from home where possible to prevent the spread of the virus. Where the management of a tenancy can be done remotely then it should be from now on.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

There are various symptoms of coronavirus the main ones are: –

  1. a) A high temperature.
  2. b) A new cough where you keep on coughing. This means a lot more in an hour or more than three episodes of coughing a day.
  3. c) Losing or there being a change in your sense of smell or taste.

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

If you live alone and have developed the symptoms, then you should immediately self-isolate and try as much as possible to have a test. Guidance for those living alone is to isolate for up to ten days from the point of noticing symptom’s in the event of a positive test result. In the event of a negative test result you can stop self-isolating.

For those people who live with others, or have formed a support bubble, the advice is that all members of the household and the support bubble self-isolate for fourteen days from the point of the first-person showing symptoms. If anyone does develop at the end of this period, they should isolate from ten days from the point of showing the symptoms.

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

You may find that the cough will persist over several weeks for some people. This may be the case even despite the coronavirus infection having been cleared. A persistent cough alone does not mean that somebody must continue to self-isolate for more than 7 days.

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

You need to understand what the Government guidelines are for people who are self-isolating. They need to minimise the risk of infecting others with coronavirus. This can be particularly important in Houses in Multiple Occupation commonly known as HMO’s where individuals share amenities.

It is important that tenants who share properties let their property manager and/or yourself known that they have the symptom’s. You should also let your fellow tenants know if you have them. The Government now advises the whole household should self-isolate for 14 days.

What is the advice for tenants with greater risk factors?

People who are classed as clinically and extremely vulnerable have their own individual guidance.

They should have received a letter from the NHS or GP telling them of this.

They should do the following and the guidance is laid out in two parts: –

Whilst previous shielding guidance helped those most at risk of COVID-19 many people reported that they found the advice very restrictive. You should consider if you can still shield. If not, then read through the Government guidelines in this regard.

The general principal applies to all local Coronavirus alert areas: –

  1. Social distancing inside and outside the home. Please see the Government guidelines.
  2. Work – everyone is currently advised to work from home where possible but again see the Government guidelines regarding this.
  3. School – the chief medical officer has stated that there is a very low rate of severe disease in children from COVID-19. All pupils and students should continue to attend their education at all Coronavirus alert areas.
  4. Travel – if you need to travel the advice is to now either walk or cycle if possible. Try and minimise the risk of contact with other people.
  5. Going to shops and pharmacies – consider shopping or going to pharmacies at quiet times of the day and you must always wear face coverings.

If you need extra care and support, whatever the current local Coronavirus alert is in your area it is important that you continue to receive care and support. In order to stay well and safe. You should continue to seek support from the NHS and contact them in this regard.

How do I manage my properties or plan to if I need to self-isolate?

If you have decided that you need to self-isolate, it is important to avoid exposing your tenants to any
Risks. It is important that you plan ahead and if there is a high likelihood that you may need to self-Isolate in the future, whether it be due to symptoms or the virus.

You should put in place alternative arrangements for the management of the properties and ensure that tenants are aware of this. This could involve anything such as a telephone or email or a text only. You may also find that a letting agent may take on the management responsibility for you.

What happens 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. Whilst you can visit the property and repairs can be dealt with promptly it is preferable not to visit the Property where possible. Consider communicating via phone, text email or video chat tools such as Skype or Zoom.

If it is essential for you to visit the property and you are not symptomatic then you should Practice social distancing during the visits and follow the guideline on working in people’s homes Safely.

You and any contractor should also ensure that you are following the Government guidelines which you can find here.

Washing your hands whilst visiting any property.

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

Whilst tenants are responsible for their own health you may wish to sign post tenants to official advice by email and advise tenants to keep up to date with the latest advice where necessary.  The NHS advises and gives guidance on simple hygiene measures which everyone can practice Minimising transmission of the virus.

What steps should trade people take to minimise health risks? Is it my responsibility?

Trades people can continue to work in properties. Whilst in the property they should be following the practices such as regular hand washing between visits. Social distancing and avoiding touching their face to minimize the risk of spreading the virus. However, the guidance is here whilst it is your responsibility to ensure that your contractors follow the rules.

Are there any steps that I should take to minimise the risks in my HMO properties?

Tenants should follow all the Government guidelines. Landlords may wish to consider emailing copies of Government advice, as well as having soap and/or sanitizer sent to the property. Tenants should be encouraged to inform housemates if they are self-isolating or become ill as the whole household will need to self-isolate.

The Government has issued guidance decontamination in non-critical settings which HMO landlords may want to familiarise themselves with, click here should a deep clean be necessary, the landlord should bear the cost? Cleaning your properties between tenancies should be thorough.

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