Covid has led to many campaigns to help tenants and landlords survive the pandemic, but Labour has taken the biscuit with its latest effort.

The party is urging HMO landlords to only rent rooms out if they are en-suite, and to under-take weekly deep-cleans of their properties.

The idea has been floated by its Northampton wing, whose leader Danielle Stone (pictured) has raised concerns that HMOs in the city, where tenants live communally sharing both washing, toilet and cooking facilities, are helping spread the virus.

“All HMOs should be en-suites. Strangers sharing bathrooms makes Covid-secure hygiene impossible. It makes social isolation, sheltering, or quarantining next-to impossible,” she said.

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“Where different households share an entrance way and communal areas there should be a requirement for landlords to undertake a weekly deep clean.”

Greencore outbreak

Her comments follow the infamous Greencore foodplant ‘super-spreading’ incident which, in part, was blamed on many of its workforce living in the same HMOs, but also car-sharing to work.

The city has some 1,0000 large and small HMOs registered within its mandatory and additional licensing schemes, and Stone has said that some landlords’ sloppy approach to providing hygienic facilities is helping create Covid-spreading traps.

“In this day and age it should be taken for granted that everyone should have access to their own bathrooms,” she told local media.

Her party has also gone a step further and urged local landlords to ‘be responsible’ and only rent out rooms within their HMOs if they have en-suite bathrooms until the pandemic dies down.

“In Northampton we have many families living in overcrowded conditions. This means parents and children are on top of each other, without adequate storage, room to play, room to study,” says Stone.

Discuss: Are HMOs the way forward for the UK rental market?
Read more: Bill that will change the way HMOs are managed.


  1. Wakey, wakey, Ms Stone. None of my HMO rooms have ensuites and I’m certainly not putting them in. So what do I do? I can’t evict my tenants and I can’t let the rooms out because they’re not ensuites.

    Putting ensuites in every room would cost how much? Let’s say a low estimate of £1,600 per room. Then it’s £1600 x 4 for a 5 person property. Rents will have to go up to reflect this. One of my HMO rooms is the living room downstairs. I will have to cover the cost of having the ensuite removed if I decide to let to a family in the future. Rents go up to reflect this. Who wants an ensuite in the living room?

    If there is an ensuite in every room that means that more people can stay in the room – up to 5 people for one toilet. So that’s 25 people in a 5 bed HMO. What can the landlord do then? Evict? erm… nope, and from my experience, the council are no help whatsoever.

    I’m so glad I’m not in your area. Labour come up with some nutball ideas.

  2. Deep cleaning? OK, rents go up to cover this. Landlords are running a business and additional costs must be covered by the customer.

    You do know how businesses work, don’t you Ms Stone?

    That’ll be a ‘no’ then.

  3. I don’t see why a household of unrelated people living in a HMO is more likely to spread the virus, than a household of family members living in a similar house nearby.

    Most of the extra HMO red tape being brought in by the government has no logic to it. There’s no reason that three young workers sharing a house are any more of a burden on the community than a couple living with an older child / teenager at home.

  4. Would it not be better for tenants to clean their own houses, rather than having professional cleaners going from one house to another?

    I’ve always kept my own house clean and my tenants keep their homes (my properties) clean themselves.

    I inspect my HMOs every week at a minimum. Never had any complaints or late rent from any tenants.

  5. I had another thought…. if I were living in an area with these further landlord bashing rules, I’d make my larger HMOs into family houses, or sell them, and buy two-up-two downs and put two tenants in each thus avoiding ALL the HMO requirements. Of course, the rent would have to increase due to just two people living in a house, but the desirability of the property would go up. I’ve done my calculations and the local housing rate would be more than enough at the one bedroom rate so that’d be around what the rent would be. Very tough on the under 35s but the council will have to house them…… and it just can’t do that at the moment. Therefore, I conclude that Ms Stone’s proposal would lead to homelessness.

    I agree with Robert James above – it would be better for tenants to clean the house themselves, but on the down side there’s always somebody who leaves the place a mess with dirty plates, washing up, clothes left lying around etc. and this would prevent a deep clean. I clean HMOs every week and provide additional cleaning supplies, but there’s no way I’m going to deep clean every week or pay somebody else to do it.

    • Many of the larger houses were originally built as family homes. But the UK has changed and people started having smaller families. In my area hardly any British people would be able or willing to buy a five bedroom, three or four storey house for their family. That’s why they were converted into bedsits, flats or HMOs.

      Those wealthy families that do want a large family house don’t want to live in the older town houses. They want a larger detached house, with a drive and garden in a posh area. They don’t want to live among the drug addicts and prostitutes in the urban areas. Whereas my tenants (single young men) don’t care. In fact, they’d hate to live out in some remote posh area, away from their workplaces, shops, take always, etc). Especially as most of them don’t have a car.

      Yes, I agree. If larger HMOs become non viable, then smaller mid terraced houses will be the alternative. Or converting the HMO to flats.

      Unfortunately, the politicians are completely out of touch with the working class realities.

      • Just to add:
        Sometimes, a social landlord will buy a larger HMO and convert back to a family house. They let it to large poor families. These are either British “combined” families* or newly arrived immigrant traditional type families. Problem is, they still want larger gardens. If they** can purchase and add garden space, that can work well.

        *I think that’s the term they use. Basically a mum with loads of kids from different fathers. Sometimes her current partner also brings his kids along too. I’ve seen it happen for families of 10.

        **the social landlords seem to be able to do whatever they want. I’ve seen them demolish houses, just to make a larger garden.


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