With the COVID-19 crisis developing at rapid speed it is unavoidable in news coverage, advice relating to coronavirus is widespread. It is affecting countless industries and sectors in ways not seen before, but in this article, we focus on what “self-isolation” means for the property guardianship sector.
Who should self-isolate?
Public Health England has issued guidance on specified countries and areas with implications for returning travellers or visitors arriving in the UK in the last 14 days: this advice is currently being updated daily. Anyone travelling from a Category 1 country or area must self-isolate for 14 days, even if asymptomatic. Those travelling from Category 2 countries or areas currently do not need to take any special measures, but should self-isolate and call NHS 111.
What does self-isolation mean for people living in shared accommodation?
The NHS has issued guidance on self-isolation. Below, we consider how this advice can be applied practically for property guardians:
– Separating from other people – e.g. trying not to be in the same room as people at the same time. Any property guardians needing to self-isolate should stay in their individual rooms with the door closed. They should only use shared living spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and living areas when necessary.
– Only allow people who live with you to stay. Absent permission from you, this is a standard licence condition and should allow you to monitor who is occupying a building. If a property guardian asks permission for a guest to visit/stay at the property, you could make legitimate enquiries about any recent travel.
– Stay in a well-ventilated room with a window that can be opened. This should be the case in accordance with the Housing Health and Safety Rating System in any event.
– Ask friends, family members or delivery services to carry out errands. Can other property guardians pull together in a time of need to help those self-isolating?
– Clean bathrooms and toilets regularly. This is likely to be critical for shared accommodation situations like the property guardianship model, as well as good handwashing hygiene to help tackle the spread of the virus. Could you implement a bathroom rota, where the isolated person uses the facilities last, and thoroughly cleaning the bathroom after use?
– Wash crockery and utensils thoroughly with soap and water or a dishwasher. If this is not already the case, you could suggest property guardians use their own crockery and utensils during this period. It is also recommended property guardians avoid using a shared kitchen whilst others are using it and take meals back to their rooms to eat.
Most licence agreements require property guardians to notify you if they are going to be absent from a property (as they will not be fulfilling their primary obligation to protect the property). You may wish to ask your property guardians to notify you of any upcoming business or personal overseas travel plans to monitor on-going risk.
If you would like any further advice on managing risk associated with COVID-19, as a licensor or an employer, please do get in touch.