As you may be aware, the rate of positive cases of Covid-19 is increasing in the 18 to 21-year-old age range and some of these will be students. This is leading to an increasing number of households self-isolating and is affecting some tenancy changeovers. Some students are having to isolate in properties beyond the final date of their tenancy agreement and incoming tenants being unable to move in on the agreed date.
We understand that tenancy changeover is challenging at the best of times and for some the current pandemic is going to create additional work and stress. It is recommended that landlords keep in close contact with outgoing and incoming tenants to ensure that any change of circumstances is communicated and can be managed as safely as possible.
Unipol have created a dedicated Coronavirus support page for tenants and landlords/agents and this includes FAQs on moving in and out of properties and includes questions around the disruption to the tenancy changeover period.
Unipol update this link regularly when guidance changes, so keep this to hand.
The University of Nottingham has also created their own guide to students self-isolating at the end of their tenancy period. You can read that here.
In the meantime, here are some tips and answers to burning questions you may have:
Q. What should I do if my outgoing Student-Tenant has been told to self-isolate due to COVID-19?
If your student-tenant has been told to self-isolate or has
tested positive for COVID-19, it is important that they do not move out before
the isolation period is complete.
If your student tenants’ period of self-isolation extends beyond the end of the tenancy agreement, then you should make arrangements to support them as they complete their isolation at the property. Government guidance clearly states that moving home is not appropriate during the self-isolation period
Q. How will Incoming student-tenants be affected?
This will obviously cause issues for incoming student-tenants, who will not be able to move into their property as expected. In this instance, it is important to communicate clearly what is happening.
You will likely need to get some legal advice on your contractual responsibilities, which may include providing alternative accommodation or deducting the rent for the period that the students are unable to live in the property and you may be able to charge the isolating tenants rent for their stay.
Landlords are not usually liable to find student-tenants alternative accommodation and/or provide compensation. However, we would encourage you to support your student-tenants as best as possible.
Please speak to your solicitor or agent in the first instance, you can also encourage your incoming tenants to contact their University to see if they can help find them alternate accommodation in the meantime.
Landlords and students should follow the Government’s guidance around self-isolation and
although there may be a contract in place, public safety is paramount in this
The Government Guidance says “We encourage all parties involved to be as flexible as possible and to be prepared to delay moves, for example, if one of those involved becomes ill with COVID-19 during the moving process or has to self-isolate…..You should not expect to immediately be able to move into any home where people have COVID-19 or are self-isolating.”
Landlords should keep in mind that your tenants will be looking to you for advice on what to do, especially in extreme circumstances like quarantine. One of the best things you can do is stay calm, be prepared, and help educate your tenants.
Cleaning between tenants
Just a reminder about cleaning prior to allowing new tenants to occupy the property. The infection risk from a COVID-19 contaminated environment decreases over time. It is not yet clear at what point there is no risk from the virus, however, studies suggest that, in non-healthcare settings, the risk of residual infectious virus is likely to be significantly reduced after 48 hours.
In situations where someone has symptoms of COVID-19, the Government continue to advise storing personal waste for 72 hours as an additional precaution. A full scale disinfection clean should be carried out on the property, when safe to do so, and before new tenants move it.
For more information on cleaning see GOV.UK: COVID-19: cleaning in non-healthcare settings
Contacting the HMO team
We understand that some students and landlords will require further advice and assistance depending on their circumstances and we can try to support as best we can. If you need to contact the HMO team at HMO@nottinghamcity.gov.uk anytime or call the Customer Hub on 0115 915 5555 between 9am and 5pm. We will try to get back to you as quickly as possible.
However, if you require legal advice, please speak to your solicitor or agent in the first instance.