COVID-19 UPDATES

Update on coronavirus (COVID-19)

15th May 2020

We completely understand the uncertainty and concern that coronavirus (COVID-19) is causing and we are doing everything we can to help any of you that may be affected during these unprecedented times.

Please be reassured that the health and wellbeing of our residents, as well as our team members, is Homes for Students' top priority

We are monitoring the situation very closely and are following the advice of Public Health England, the NHS and the FCO as well as monitoring updates from the Institutions. We will continue to update our procedures in line with the latest Government guidance here.

We are also working closely with owners of the properties that we manage to address tenancy and refund enquiries as set out below.

What we are doing

A high number of our residents continue to live in the properties and therefore we have introduced a specific COVID-19 business contingency plan to ensure the safe management of our residents, buildings and Homes for Students’ teams. This plan includes:

  • Keeping all our residents updated with Government and Public Health England guidance and instructions.
  • Increasing the frequency of cleaning essential public areas and touch points including receptions, lifts, door handles and public bathrooms.
  • Implementing procedures to ensure any student who is unwell is supported.
  • Instructing all staff and residents to practice social distancing as per Government regulation which includes temporarily closing all gyms, study rooms and other common spaces.
  • Adhering to social distancing by conducting all communication via telephone and email except in the case of essential maintenance or emergency situations. You can still contact your property team on the usual telephone number or by email and our out of hours service remains in place.
  • Introducing an enhanced remote support structure to assist our residents with any particular concerns or queries.
  • Temporarily suspending all student guests/visitors to our properties with the exception of essential maintenance or emergency situations.
  • Adhering to the Government non-essential travel restrictions through a reduced staff presence at our properties. These staff are attending properties to prioritise and perform essential health and safety checks to ensure our properties are run safely and in line with statutory compliance.
  • Our on-site gyms remain closed until further notice, as per the Government guidelines.
  • Communal areas, such as lounges and common rooms have had to be closed to comply with the Government guidelines on social distancing and gatherings of people.

What you need to do – Government instructions

We have now received instruction from the Government that we need to control the virus and stay alert, in order to do this you should:

  1. Stay in your residence as much as possible.
  2. Limit contact with other people.
  3. Keep your distance if you do go out, maintaining social distancing guidelines and staying 2 metres apart where possible.
  4. Play sports or undertake exercise, for example a run, walk, or cycle, but you should do this alone or with members of your household only.
  5. Travel to and from work by car, bicycle or through walking and avoid public transport as much as possible, and you should only attend your place of work where your work cannot be done from home.

Please remember that you can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms. You are advised to self-isolate if you do get symptoms of the virus or anyone in your residence/household gets symptoms.

What you need to do if you are living in one of our properties

  • Follow your usual property fire and emergency procedures.
  • Arrange for limited and essential deliveries only to be collected by you personally and not to be delivered to the property reception.
  • Refrain from holding or attending any gatherings of more than two people whilst maintaining social distancing. This does not include your fellow housemates if you live in a shared cluster flat or townhouse.
  • Protect yourself and others and remember the importance of good handwashing.
  • When cleaning you should use your usual household products, like detergents and bleach. Clean frequently touched surfaces such as door handles, handrails, remote controls and table tops regularly.
  • Personal waste (such as used tissues) and disposable cleaning cloths should be stored securely within disposable rubbish bags. These bags should be placed into another bag, tied securely and kept separate from other waste. This should be put aside for at least 72 hours before being put in your usual property waste bin. Other household waste can be disposed of as normal.

What you need to do if you are living in one of our properties and feel unwell

  • The Government advises that you should self-isolate in your room or studio if you have a high temperature (if you don’t have a thermometer check if you feel hot to touch on your chest or back) or you have a new, continuous cough (which means you are coughing repeatedly). Please read the NHS’s advice on COVID-19 and its advice on self-isolation in student accommodation here.
  • If you are concerned about any potential symptoms then please call the NHS Helpline on 111
  • Inform your property team via your property email address and they will contact you with further information regarding self-isolation in your property.
  • If you become aware that somebody is self-isolating in your shared accommodation cluster flat, you too will need to self-isolate as per the Government advice.

Travel Advice

The latest advice from the Minister of State for Universities is that students' remaining at university in England should now stay where they are and not attempt to travel. If they are living in student halls, or private rented accommodation, they should remain there and stay indoors while current restrictions are in force’.

RETURNING TO COLLECT BELONGINGS

All residents need to make sure that they comply with any applicable regulations and statutory guidance regarding travel whilst the Government lockdown is in effect. In the UK, this means you must comply with The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 and associated guidance. If you do decide to return to the property to collect your belongings, please contact your Property Team before arriving to agree a date and time for this so we can ensure the correct social distancing measures are in place.

Stay connected

All our properties have unlimited internet usage to allow you to keep in touch with family, friends and your property team. All of the internet providers are continuing their 24/7 support structure and please continue to contact them if you are experiencing any issues. It is important to look after your mental health as well as physical health and stay connected. If you feel you need extra support, please contact your University wellbeing teams, call the charity Mind (Mental Health) on 0845 766 0163 or visit Student Minds for advice and guidance.

Tenancy agreements

The Minister of State for Universities also has issued a letter to students confirming that students will receive their third term student loans whatever the circumstances and a further update from the Government can be viewed here.

The Student Loans Company has confirmed that students will receive their scheduled or next instalment of their Maintenance Loan at the planned start of their summer term, regardless of whether their university or provider has made alternative arrangements for teaching.

The Government has also recently issued guidance on support available for landlords and renters reflecting the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and setting out a range of Landlords obligations relating to health and safety and emergencies here.

Homes for Students have been engaging with all owners to assess what measures each one can agree to in order to support students who have tenancy agreements in their properties.

We have been contacting students over recent weeks where the building owners have made decisions about third term rental payments. If you have not received a final decision yet, please be aware that we are working closely with the remaining owners to get the decisions and you will be notified of your property’s outcome as soon as possible.

This is a complex process and we are working hard with the owners to be able to get updates to every student as soon as possible, so if you have not yet been contacted with an outcome we ask that you continue to have patience.

If you have any questions regarding your tenancy with us during this difficult time, please contact us via [email protected] providing your name, student ID and the property you have your tenancy agreement with. All of these enquiries are being logged and responded to and also being used to update the owners of the property.