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Living in shared accommodation in the city

How to stay safe if you're living in a private flat or house in Portsmouth

This page is being updated to reflect that Covid restrictions are largely ending in England, following the UK Government's announcements.

Moving home can be stressful – particularly during the current time of uncertainty – but it's an exciting time too. And the good news is there are simple ways to set yourself up in your new home, while still respecting social distancing.

There are no restrictions on renting a room in private accommodation this year, but there are a few extra things you should do if you’re moving into shared accommodation.

Moving in

With social distancing and lockdown restrictions on travel, move in day might look a little different this year. Follow these guidelines to help keep you and your housemates safe.

Stagger moving in times with others

To help with social distancing, it’s a good idea to arrange different moving times with your housemates. If you’re all trying to move into your shared house at the same time, it’s going to be hard to keep your distance, especially bringing all your boxes and personal items into the house.

If you're moving in with friends, set up a calendar and assign one day to each person. Or one person could move in the morning and another in the afternoon on each day. Just make sure to give others a bit of space if you’re the first one in the house.

If you don’t know your housemates yet, contact your landlord and ask them to set up daily slots for each of you. 

Get help from one person at a time

It's great to have family members or friends help you move – especially if you have a lot of belongings. But remember, every person entering your house could put others at risk and a group of people coming in and out of the house can make social distancing harder for housemates who have moved in already.

To help with social distancing, it’s best to only let one family member or friend in your shared house with you at any one time. Even if you’re the first one to move in, more people means more touch points in the house that could get contaminated.

Wipe down touch points

Touch points are surfaces and objects that can get contaminated with coronavirus when someone carrying the virus coughs or breathes close to them. These could be kitchen surfaces, door-handles and bathroom towels – anything you touch that other people will also come into contact with.

It’s essential to keep all touch points as clean as possible. To do this when you’re moving in:

  • carry tissues with you to open doors
  • wipe surfaces and touch points with antibac wipes once you’re finished in a room
  • wipe all touch points when your family members or friends leave for the day
  • wipe down surfaces once you’ve finished using them, especially in shared areas like the kitchen or bathroom

Wash your hands regularly

If you touch a contaminated touch point, it’s essential you don’t then touch any area of your face. Face covering can help you keep germs away from your mouth, so you might want to bring one for move in day, before you’ve deep cleaned your room and shared areas.

But the best way to prevent the spread of the virus is to wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds. Bring a hand towel with you to dry your hands on too – you shouldn’t share one with a roommate, even if they’ve left one in the bathroom.

Deep clean your room

Before moving your stuff into your room, you’ll want to give it a deep clean. Even if your landlord has promised to do so, make sure to do it yourself just in case any of the touch points are contaminated.

The government website has great guidelines on cleaning. They include:

  • wear disposable gloves and aprons for cleaning – then double-bag them and put them aside for 72 hours before throwing away
  • wash clean hard surfaces with a disposable cloth and warm soapy water
  • after washing surfaces, clean them with a regular disinfectant and wipe down
  • wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds after removing cleaning gloves and apron

To prepare for deep cleaning your room, you might want to bring the following items with you on move in day:

  • disposable gloves and apron – washing up gloves will work too
  • regular cleaning products for hard surfaces and disinfectant spray
  • disposable cloths and paper towels
  • bin bags

Ongoing safety measures in shared accommodation

You should be prepared to keep a regular cleaning schedule after you move in. You’ll also want to work out how to share the costs of cleaning products with your housemates.

Talk to your housemates to set up a cleaning rota. If you’re not sure how regularly to clean or how to clean effectively, the NHS has some general cleaning tips to help prevent the spread of germs in your house. 

They include:

  • clean the toilet every few days with toilet cleaner and a brush
  • regularly disinfect the toilet flush handle and seat
  • clean baths, sinks and shower curtains regularly
  • clean all kitchen surfaces immediately after you use them
  • use disposable cloths or paper towels
  • clean and dry all mops and buckets after using them
  • always wash your hands after handling rubbish

We also recommend setting up a sanitiser station near the front door, to help you from spreading germs picked up when outside the house.

Your 'household'

Once you move into private shared accommodation, everyone you live with becomes part of your ‘household’.

To reduce infection in your shared household, regularly wash your hands for 20 seconds using soap and water or use hand sanitiser. Also cover any coughs or sneezes with a tissue or your elbow, and wash your hands immediately after.

Meeting students outside your ‘household’

You should follow Government guidelines on who you are able to meet and where. This includes letting other students into spaces you share with your household, such as your shared kitchen or bathrooms.

Portsmouth has many beaches, piers and parks which are perfect places to meet up with people from other households until the restrictions are lifted. You could also use our unlimited access to Google Meet to set up quizzes, movie nights and study groups with students outside your household.

COVID-19 symptoms in your ‘household’

If you or someone else in your household develops symptoms or tests positive for coronavirus, you need to follow Government guidelines for households.

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