Coronavirus Guidance

There's plenty of advice around about keeping yourself safe - but it can be hard to interpret this if you live in a flat. We'll be keeping an eye out for the latest guidance so keep checking back on this page or follow us on Twitter where we are @UnderOneRoof Sco.

Cleaning common areas to reduce infection from Coronavirus

Keeping your close clean will not only make you all feel better about the homes where you are spending so much time just now but it’s also important in protecting your health.

Using commercial cleaning services

If you employ commercial close cleaners, you may find that they are unable to keep to their usual schedules.  Commercial cleaning schedules may also not be sufficiently frequent to provide the additional cleaning and disinfection required. 

You will need to take action yourselves and this is what you are advised to do.

Communicate With Your Neighbours

  • Find a way of warning neighbours that cleaning is in progress so you can avoid having to pass closely on the stairs
  • See Time for New House Rules below

Protect Yourself

  • Wear protective gloves if available.
  • If you can't get disposables, write your name on the gloves so you don’t end up sharing them with other people
  • Beware of splashing disinfectant on yourself.
  • If you think you just might need to use eye protection then do.

What To Clean

You'll want to up your cleaning schedule for the close but pay particular attention to

  • handrails,
  • door handles
  • controlled entry key pads and door bells
  • any parts of the close wall that get touched (grubby marks are a tell tale sign).

Cleaning Method

  • Clean off the visible dirt and grease thoroughly first of all with soap and water – dirt reduces the effectiveness of disinfectants.
  • Allow to dry
  • Then disinfect surfaces with any of the following:
    • Disinfectant wipes
    • Standard household disinfectant – read and follow the instructions carefully
    • Diluted bleach solution (bleach can be dangerous if misused so see further guidance below)

How Often to Clean

Floors: two or three times a week

Handrails, handles, door entry pads etc: once a day would be a good target for most closes but twice a day would be better if many people pass through your common areas.  Some social landlords have a target of cleaning high touch areas every 2 hours.


Where does “home” stop and start for a flat dweller?

We’ve been asked if you can use up your daily exercise excursion by popping down the stairs to put the bins out.   There’s both a legal answer and a health answer to this.

Legally, as a flat owner in Scotland, you own not just the four walls around your flat but also a share of the common parts and "appurtenances" as set out in your title deeds. So generally speaking the whole tenement is your home and you are not going outside your home and using up your daily quota of exercise if you go to the back garden. Tenants also have rights to use common property.

Health-wise, it’s a different matter.  Your communal areas are shared and lots of people will be touching banister rails and door handles. So treat your close and stairs as a semi-public space and try and keep 2 metres from your neighbours. If you have a lift, the fitter ones among you can get some extra exercise using the stairs leaving the lift free for those who really need it. Keep your gloves on until you get through your own flat’s front door and then wash your hands.

Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 s5

Emergency Repairs

Prevention is…

  • Knowing where your stopcocks are both for the close as a whole and then for individual flats
  • Sharing spare loo roll with those forced to use newspaper or kitchen roll to avoid blocked drains.

Essential repairs are not prohibited but you may struggle to get trades firms able to turn out. Follow our guidance on measures you can take yourself whilst waiting for the builder.

Plumbing emergencies – see Burst Pipes in Services

Gas Emergencies – also covered in Services

Preventing damp leading to dry rot outbreaks see the section on treatment in Rot and Insects

Blocked drains –see Drainage


Struggling to pay Factor’s Bills?

If you are one of the many people who are facing financial difficulties due to economic disruption it will be very tempting to just cancel all Direct Debits.  But if you don't pay your Factor's bills, you could be creating serious problems for yourself and your neighbours down the line. You could even end up losing your home.

Firstly, some repairs need to be done to prevent even more expensive repairs being required. It’s also worth noting that you won’t be able to get an insurance payment for any problem that is caused by a lack of proper maintenance.

Secondly, your factor’s bill may also include common insurance premiums. It’s not just that you are legally required to carry common insurance as a flat owner but that you could lose your home and all you’ve invested in it completely if you don’t maintain your insurance.

So before you cancel you cancel the Direct Debit, speak to your Factors and ask for their help. 

Universal Credit (UC) and housing costs
If you are now forced to claim benefits, you will find that UC will eventually give you a regular payment to cover mortgage interest and service charges for the upkeep of communal areas.  This regular payment will be in the form of a loan which will be repaid in due course. We've checked the guidance and, there is a little vagueness about things which are particular to the situation of flat owners in Scotland - like the insurance for common areas which is a legal requirement in Scotland. 

We can't give any individual advice on benefits but we would like to know if you have difficulties related to getting help to pay for common repairs or common insurance so we can take up the wider issue.  If you do need advice on benefits, please start by looking at Citizens Advice Scotland's webpage. You can also find sources of financial advice through Scotland's Financial Health Service.

Getting financial help and advice


Time for new house rules?

In the past, tenements had house rules to deal with sharing tasks out equally and dealing with competing demands for the use of common parts. Each household was allocated a day when they could use the washhouse and drying lines in the backcourt – whether it was raining or not. Rotas were also in place for stair cleaning,  with a reminder card on a piece of string that was passed from one neighbour to another saying “Your turn to clean the common stairs this week”.

Opening up the conversation

With no possibility of arranging the traditional close meeting, the following suggestions might help you to get new house rules established quickly:

  • Better decisions are made when people have a chance to think things over (even if it’s just 24 hours) and some options to consider.
  • If you don’t yet have emails or phone numbers for everyone, including tenants, prepare a quick note of what you want to talk about, call at the flat door then back away to have a quick 2 metres conversation.
  • Explain that you want to set up some new house rules that everyone can agree to, how you are going to get everyone’s suggestions and make decisions.
  • Be tolerant when reading email and text messages - it's really difficult to get the same depth of communication as you would in a conversation - and we are all a bit stressed just now.
  • Look for agreement by consensus rather than imposition.

What House Rules do you need?

Some of the topics that people have suggested you have rules over are:

  • How you are going to communicate with each other (Facebook, WhatsApp, Email or just a makeshift noticeboard by the front door)
  • Stair cleaning and disinfection methods and rotas (and how you are going to pay for the materials).
  • Lift and stair use "etiquette" to keep 2m distance
  • Whether you need to establish quiet times to protect NHS and Social Care Workers
  • Rules and possibly a rota for use of the backcourt for exercise, kids play and dogs.
  • How you will keep refuse under control with more limited bin collections in most areas
  • What you will do if any of you gets coronavirus
  • When you are going to review the rules to see how well they are working for everyone

Help with Difficult Conversations

Guidance on using bleach


You can download this section to pass to your neighbours or attach to your close noticeboard.

Use Bleach With Care

Bleach can be dangerous if not used properly so always follow the following guidance.


  • Store well away from children and pets


If accidentally swallowed:

  • Do not make the person vomit
  • Make them drink lots of cold water
  • Treat as a medical emergency

If splashed on skin or in eyes:

  • Wash affected part with plenty of cold water
  • Seek immediate medical advice if splashed on a child or in eyes

People Who Should Avoid Using Bleach

  • Those with lung conditions

Paint And Plastics

  • Do a test patch first on any paints and plastics.
  • If in doubt, rinse off bleach solution with fresh water after 10 minutes

Application Process

  • Wear gloves
  • If other cleaning products have been used to remove dirt and grease, allow these to dry before using bleach solution

Always Dilute Bleach

  • Dilute with COLD water only
  • NEVER mix with ANY other cleaning product, even natural ones such as vinegar or rubbing (isopropynol) alcohol as this may cause a chemical reaction producing dangerous fumes
  • Make a fresh solution every day as stale solutions are not effective

How Much To Dilute?

Look at the Ingredients List on your bleach bottle for the percentage of Sodium Hypochlorite (the active ingredient). Use a sharpie or waterproof tape to mark up a plastic milk bottle with the correct dilution rate. Mix as follows


% Sodium Hypochlorite

Milliliters per 100 mls cold water

Teaspoons (tsps.) per 500 mls (1 pint) milk bottle


10 mls

10 tsps


15 mls

15 tsps