Houses in multiple occupation and Covid-19? Government provides some answers


The Government has published non-statutory guidance for landlords and tenants in the private and social rented sectors. This has been done by way of a series of questions and answers and questions 3.20 , 3.21 and 3.22 are specific to houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). 

The answer at 3.20 explains that if a tenant in an HMO has Covid-19, the landlord is not obliged to remove such party nor does the landlord have to find alternative accommodation for the other tenants at the HMO.  The answer at 3.21 says that if a landlord has a vacant room at an HMO, then that room can be let out but viewings and the move must take place with tenant safety being prioritised.  The answer at 3.22 is that the Government is encouraging local authorities to pause the introduction of non-mandatory HMO licensing schemes and to be pragmatic in enforcement of selective and additional HMO licensing schemes.

The answers to questions 3.8 and 3.9 set out how residents in HMOs should do their best to follow the latest Covid-19 guidance. Cleaning to minimise the risk of infection is vital especially with shared facilities or common areas such as kitchens, bathrooms and/or sitting rooms, all of which are considered essential communal space which landlords cannot close.   Should there be a possible Covid-19 infection then all residents should behave in the same way as a single household in terms of self-isolation periods.

For landlords, the non-statutory guidance includes advice on repairs and inspections and recommends that landlords continue to carry out their regular gas and electrical safety inspections in line with the guidance on working within people's homes.  From 1 August 2020, landlords and their contractors are advised to carry out routine and essential repairs in households that are shielding.

The non-statutory guidance is a practical resource for landlords and tenants in the private rented sector to understand how they should act taking account of the Coronavirus Act 2020 and the detailed guidance issued by the Government.

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Non-statutory guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities in the private and social rented sectors in the context of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
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