COVID-19 and renting: guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities

Guidance for tenants

Guidance from the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG)

The Council have received guidance from the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) that deals specifically with the impacts of COVID-19 (coronavirus) on landlords and tenants across the private rented sector.

Non-statutory guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities in the private and social rented sectors in the context of coronavirus was updated on Saturday 29 August 2020 to reflect amended regulations and wider government public health advice.

View further Covid-19 and renting guidance from the Government

Repossessions: Six-month notice period

On Friday 28 August 2020 the government confirmed the change to the law to ensure that most renters have a six-month notice period. Landlords must provide at least six months’ notice period prior to seeking possession through the courts in most cases. View the Government announcement.

Guidance for Tenants Living in a Shared House

We are sending out information to all HMO tenants in line with the government guidance to advise what they should do if they or other occupants have possible coronavirus (Covid 19) infection.

If a tenant has symptoms of coronavirus, then all household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill. It is likely that people living within a household will infect each other or be infected already. Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the risk of passing on infection to others in the community.

All household members who remain well may end household isolation after 14 days. 

Further information is available from the Public Health England website. This will be updated as more information becomes available.

If any tenants are vulnerable individuals (such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions) they should move temporarily to stay with friends or family (if possible) for the duration of the home isolation period. For vulnerable individuals that do not have anywhere else to go whilst they self-isolate the local authority may be able to assist with temporary accommodation for these individuals only.

If you have to self-isolate, this will obviously be a difficult and stressful time so you should plan ahead to help make it easier, this should include:

  •  Considering what you are going to need in order to be able to stay at home for the full 14 days; talking to your employer, friends and family to ask for their help to access the things you will need to make your stay at home a success
  • Think about and plan how to get access to food and other supplies such as medications required during this period
  •  Create a contact list with phone numbers of neighbours, schools, employer, chemist, NHS 111
  • Set up an online shopping account if possible
  • Ask friends or family to drop off anything needed or order supplies online, but make sure these are left outside the home for you to collect
  • Make sure that you keep in touch with friends and family over the phone or through social media
  •  Think about things you can do during your time at home. People who have successfully completed a period of staying at home have kept themselves busy with activities such as cooking, reading, online learning and watching films
  • Many people find it helpful to plan out the full 14 days, such as on a make-shift calendar. This could be useful for tenants to create cleaning or cooking rotas. (see below section on use of shared spaces)

Occupants should be encouraged to plan in advance what they will do if, for example,someone in the household were to feel much worse, such as having difficulties breathing.

If you need clinical advice, you should go online to NHS 111 (or call 111 if you don’t have internet access). In an emergency, call 999 if you are seriously ill or injured or your life is at risk. You must not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital.

Use of shared spaces when individuals who live with others in HMO’s are required to stay in their rooms

If someone is unwell, they should minimise visiting shared spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and sitting areas as much as possible, and keep shared spaces well ventilated if possible.

They should aim to keep 2 metres from other people and not share a bed with another person.

If toilet or bathroom facilities are shared, they should use a separate bathroom if possible.

The bathroom should be cleaned and disinfected using regular cleaning products before being used by anyone else.

If a separate bathroom is not available, consideration should be given to drawing up a rota for washing or bathing, with the person who is unwell using the facilities last, before thoroughly cleaning the bathroom themselves (if they are able or it is appropriate).

A person who is unwell should use separate body and hand towels from other people.

They should avoid using shared kitchens whilst others are present. They should take their meals back to their room to eat and use a dishwasher (if available) to clean and dry crockery and cutlery.

At Northampton Borough Council, the Housing Enforcement Team continues to be available to respond to any queries from landlords and tenants. They can be contacted through the normal contact channels, but we would request that, wherever possible, you use our email pshs@northampton.gov.uk.