Coronavirus advice for people living in Houses in Multiple Occupation

Coronavirus advice for people living in Houses in Multiple Occupation (October 2020)

Dear Resident

We are writing to give you advice on how to stay safe and to ask for your help in tackling the spread of COVID-19 in Oxford. COVID-19 cases are rising rapidly across the country and in Oxford too. The weekly rate of infection now stands at over 100 per 100,000 population here.

We recognise that for people like you, living in houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), there are particular difficulties in preventing transmission of the virus. We have therefore produced this advice for people who live in HMOs to help you stay safe and comply with the law.

The rule of 6 and visitors

As you live in a licensed HMO the maximum number of people who can live in your house will be defined by the licence. The HMO licence and maximum number of occupants should be displayed in the property. This then impacts the number of people who can visit your home. If there are 6 or more people normally living at your house then you should not have any visitors. The exception to this is if any residents are absent and there are fewer than 6 people present in the property.

When meeting friends and family you do not live with (or have formed a support bubble with) you must not meet in a group of more than 6, indoors or outdoors.

The rule of 6 is a legal requirement enforced by the police and there is government guidance on the rule of six and meeting with others safely. The web address for the guidance is provided below.

Keeping safe in shared spaces

Living in an HMO means sharing facilities. In some HMOs the occupiers have chosen to live together and form a household, but in others they live separately, for example with locks on bedroom doors. We understand that it will be hard for some people to separate themselves from others at home, but you should do your best to follow this guidance:

Minimise the time you spend in shared spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and sitting areas as much as possible and keep shared spaces well ventilated.

Aim to keep 2 metres (3 steps) away from people you live with. If you can, use a separate bathroom from others. Make sure you use separate towels from other people, both for drying yourself after bathing and for hand hygiene purposes. Keep your towel in your room.

If you do share a toilet and bathroom, it is important to clean them properly after every time you use them (for example, wiping surfaces you have come into contact with using soapy water).

If you share a kitchen with others, avoid using it whilst others are in it. Take your meals back to your room to eat if possible. If you have one, use a dishwasher to clean and dry your used crockery and cutlery. If this is not possible, wash them using your usual washing up liquid and warm water and dry them thoroughly, remembering to use a separate tea towel to others and put them straight away. Do not leave things on the side to dry.

Everyone in your household should:

  • regularly wash their hands with soap and water
  • avoid touching their face
  • clean frequently touched surfaces.

Support for students

Both the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University have provided guidance and information for students who are living outside of university-owned accommodation. The website links are provided below.

Testing and self-isolation

In the event that someone who lives in your HMO shows symptoms of COVID-19, the government has issued guidance that advises that the whole household should isolate for 14 days or until they have received a negative test result through the Test and Trace system (advice will be provided by the NHS). The web address for the government guidance is given below. Anyone showing symptoms of coronavirus is now eligible for a test. Advice on how to get a test can be found via the NHS website.

You must stay at home and self-isolate following a positive test result for COVID-19 or if you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace and instructed to self-isolate because you are a contact of someone who has had a positive test result. You can be fined £1,000 if you do not stay at home and self-isolate when required.

You may be entitled to a one-off payment of £500 through the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme if you are required to stay at home and self-isolate. Details are available from a weblink below and on our self isolation support page.

The City Council has also set up a single point of contact for vulnerable people to ask for the extra help they may need as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. In order to get help for yourself or someone you are concerned about you can either call 01865 249811 or visit our community assistance page

If you need further advice please visit the coronavirus page on the GOV.UK website or contact the council at [email protected].


Government guidance on the rule of six and meeting safely

University of Oxford guidance to students

Oxford Brookes University information for students

Government guidance on self-isolating:

NHS - getting a test

GOV.UK - getting a test

Government support for self-isolation

Yours faithfully

Ian Wright

Head of Regulatory Services and Community Safety