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To say that these are uncertain times for landlords and tenants is perhaps the understatement of the year. The need to protect yourself and your tenants is paramount as the UK authorities and the UK population continue to fight the spread. You will no doubt have noticed a raft of legislation and regulations emerging from the UK government and specific guidance from an array of landlord/tenant related associations.   

Amongst this tidal wave of advice and guidance, and legal obligations, it can be difficult to keep track. We therefore thought it would be useful to list basic sensible guidance is difficult times.  

Reducing health risks  

Front and centre of all guidance regarding the coronavirus is the need to reduce health risks and opportunities for this highly contagious virus to spread. We hope you find the following guidance of assistance:-  

  • Symptoms  

Despite speculation regarding additional symptoms, a high fever and a persistent dry cough of the two most prominent symptoms so far.  

  • Lockdown  

As we know, the UK is currently lockdown and while seen by some as “optional” there are actually laws on the statute books to support this. Therefore, you are only able to leave your property for four reasons and with no more than one other person from your household:-  

  1. One form of exercise up to 1 hour per day 
  2. Travelling to work where you are unable to work from home 
  3. Providing medical/essential supplies to a vulnerable people 
  4. The purchase of essential food supplies  

Social distancing is one of the most common phrases of the day but there is some confusion as to the exact guidance. It is important that you:-  

  1. Refrain from using public transport where possible 
  2. Try to work from home 
  3. Avoid meeting up with family and friends 
  4. Only contact public services via telephone/Internet 
  5. Avoid contact with anyone showing symptoms 
  6. Refrain from attending gatherings of any size, these are now illegal  

There is also very strict guidance with regards to those showing symptoms and those living in the same household:-  

  1. Anybody with even the milder symptoms of the coronavirus is required to self isolate for seven days 
  2. Those within the household of those showing mild symptoms are required to self isolate for 14 days 
  3. The government has also released a list of high-risk medical conditions with those affected told a self isolate for 12 weeks  

Such is the highly contagious nature of the virus that it is essential those with even the merest degree of concern about symptoms practice self isolation. Remember, this is a virus which has spread right across the globe in just a matter of months.  

  • Tenants and landlords  

It is obvious that landlords need to practice what they preach and observe all of the UK government guidelines regarding self isolation. Many landlords are also providing their tenants with copies of government advice and best practice to avoid any potential health complications. This is where perhaps the guidance gets a little confusing in relation to asymptomatic carriers, the incubation period for the virus and HMOs. The guidance is as follows:-  

  1. Those tenants who do not develop symptoms will need to self isolate for 14 days from the moment symptoms were reported by a housemate 
  2. Any tenant showing symptoms of the virus must immediately self isolate for seven days 

We are sorry of this guidance begins to sound repetitive but many people are failing to fully understand the power of self isolation and social distancing.  

  • High risk tenants  

The UK government has issued guidance regarding individuals with medical conditions which are deemed to be high risk. These are conditions which on the whole have impaired the individual’s immune system making them more susceptible to the virus. It has proven to be especially dangerous for those with respiratory health conditions such as COPD and asthma.   

Those who are in the high-risk category are required to undertake social distancing for a period of 12 weeks. As a consequence, landlord should refrain from visiting that properties as they could endanger the life of those deemed high-risk. There are ways and means of offering support such as dropping food supplies medicines which can be discussed with tenants. However, all items and equipment must be thoroughly cleaned to avoid passing on the virus.  

Summary  

Landlords have a duty of care to their tenants and it is advisable to make them aware of the government guidelines regarding self isolation, shielding and the treatment of those at high risk of infection. This also ensures there are no misunderstandings, all parties know where they stand and reduces the risk of contracting what can be a deadly infection. Government guidelines clearly show that all households should remain housebound and only leave the property for exercise and essentials. 

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