Council issues coronavirus advice for houses in multiple occupation

Published: Wednesday, 14th October 2020

Oxford City Council has written to tenants of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) with advice on suppressing the spread of coronavirus.

With an infection rate of 151.5 cases per 100,000 people, Oxford is in Tier 1 (medium risk) under new national rules announced on Monday. This means that measures such as the rule of six, working from home where possible and 10pm closing for leisure and hospitality sectors remain in force.

HMOs are homes rented out to three or more people who are not from the same family and who share 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.

Around one in five people in Oxford lives in an HMO and some of the worst housing conditions in the city are in shared housing. This means that HMOs present particular difficulties in preventing the spread of coronavirus, and the council has written to tenants in 3,268 shared houses to help keep them safe and comply with the law.

For example, the rules mean that if an HMO has six or more residents then no visitors are allowed unless there are less than six people actually in the property. If someone living in an HMO has symptoms of the virus then all residents must self-isolate for 14 days or until the symptomatic person tests negative.

It is now a legal requirement for symptomatic people to self-isolate and the police may issue a £1,000 fine for those who do not comply. A range of support is available in Oxford to people who are self-isolating.

The council’s advice also highlights other action that HMO residents can take to minimise the risk of contracting the virus.

“Around one in five people in Oxford lives in an HMO and we’ve issued this advice to help them understand how to keep themselves safe from infection and on the right side of the law. No one wants to catch this illness or pass it on to others. We all need to be aware of the risks and take action to limit them.”

Councillor Louise Upton, cabinet member for safer, healthy Oxford

Read the full text of the letter to HMO tenants