The safety of guests at your holiday homes is paramount. While it is the hope of holiday let owners that guests remain cautious and safe within their rentals, accidents and injuries still happen, albeit rarely. And when they do, guests will be unsatisfied or even take legal action, especially if the owner has not followed all required legislation regarding renting out their holiday homes.
Aside from the benefits of holiday lets, owners also have a duty to ensure their guests' safety while in the holiday homes. As a holiday homeowner or host, you're legally obligated to provide safe accommodation while putting everything in place to reduce risks of harm.
Hence, holiday let owners must understand and implement health and safety regulations for holiday lets. This will protect the owners, guests, employees, etc., from avoidable risks and help the owners remain covered in cases of harm.
To help you understand these regulations, we have prepared this guide highlighting the most important health and safety regulations for holiday lets. There are also practical strategies for ensuring these holiday home rules to help you stay compliant.
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Holiday Lets General Health and Safety
Identifying rules for holiday lets may seem daunting, especially if you’re just starting holiday let business, but it isn't very challenging to grasp when broken down. To help you understand, we will explain the regulations under headings such as fire safety, gas, electricity, oil, etc.
However, you should be aware of general health and safety rules for holiday lets. These basic steps are easy to overlook but must be in place in any holiday let property.
Holiday let owners must perform a general risk assessment on their property to detect any danger lurking around. Through this, you can make the property safer, reduce liability, and stay rest assured.
Specific Health and Safety Requirements for Holiday Lets
As stated earlier, these general health and safety requirements are basic things that are easy to overlook. You'll have to rely on logic to identify them. Use the list below as a starting point, and proceed to other parts that you discover.
- Put safety railings on places, such as stairs, balconies, and passageways, that need such barriers to prevent falling. The heights should be between 90 and 1000mm, depending on the location.
- Clear pathways and corridors of any harmful object or anything that may hinder movement, especially during emergencies. Remove sharp objects and protruding objects from anywhere they could cause injuries.
- Identify locations, such as around swimming pools or bathrooms, where guests can slip and correct them using non-slip tiling or other corrective methods.
- Install necessary structures and fittings that make your property friendly for children, families, pets, and people living with disabilities.
- If there are low ceilings, sudden footing drops, unseen steps, etc., anywhere in your holiday home, provide warnings close by and within property descriptions.
- Provide warnings for any other potential risks that are impossible to eliminate.
- Restrict windows opening to 100mm or lower if accessible to children on the ground floor.
- Install cordless blinds for ease and functionality.
When letting out your property to guests, provide the necessary information and your holiday home rules so they can be aware. You can also detail appropriate steps to take and phone numbers to call in case of an emergency.
The HSE guide on simple health safety contains more practical suggestions and useful resources you can consult.
Holiday Let Fire Regulations
The risk of fire is always present at holiday cottages, and reducing these risks is crucial to ensuring legal requirements for holiday lets are in place. This includes understanding fire safety needs and the implementation. Fire safety regulations may vary between different countries.
For example, holiday let owners in England and Wales must comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which stipulates a fire safety risk assessment by property owners. More information can be found on the Firesafe website.
Fire safety assessment
The fire risk assessment is a legal requirement for all non-domestic premises, including holiday lets. It detects and evaluates potential fire risks within your holiday let. There are three steps involved in identifying and assessing people and properties at fire risk.
Step 1: Identify potential risks
The first part concerned with identifying fire hazards in a holiday accommodation is where you take note of potential causes of fire — a flammable substance or an ignition source. Things like cooking equipment, gas heaters, open fires, faulty appliances, etc., could start a fire.
While furniture, wall coverings, and other flammable materials could make the fire spread, factors like ventilation, and air conditioning appliances, can add oxygen and further make the fire bigger.
Identifying these objects and conditions is the starting point for reducing their risk. It allows you to recognise steps to make sure none of these things contributes to a holiday home hazard, such as using fire-retarding materials for furniture or placing them strategically.
Step 2: Identify who is at risk
The second step identifies those at risk of a holiday let fire. They include the elderly, children, and people living with disabilities. Again, it would be best if you put measures in place to assist these people with moving around easily and during an emergency.
Step 3: Reduce risk and put preventative measures in place
The last step involves putting measures in place to eliminate fire hazards and ensure safety. After considering potential risks and those likely to be affected, the next stage consists in taking practical steps to prevent fire accidents or keep guests safe in the event.
Popular measures include the installation of smoke detectors, providing fire fighting equipment, and organising emergency fire plans. Smoke detectors should be installed on all floors, and you should have experts regularly check that they're functioning.
Fire extinguishers, fire blankets, etc., should also be available on all floors and areas like the kitchen with higher risks, as identified in the steps above. It's also a good idea to include instructions for using them for small fires.
When a fire outbreak is too large to be stopped by firefighting equipment, the guests should find it easy to exit the apartment. To assist them with this, outline steps to take and available routes to get to a safe place.
The holiday let fire regulations are fairly straightforward, and the holiday let owner can follow the steps to carry it out. You can also use the services of a qualified fire consultant for faster and better results.
Smoke alarms are highly essential devices for properties. It is reported that around 40% of fatalities from fires in dwelling places occur where there’s no alarm. For the safety of guests, you should install smoke alarms on your property and check them before and after every rental.
There are even smarter versions now that you can install and get alerts on your smartphone. So whether there's a disturbing level of smoke or the device's batteries are dying, you can get on top of it quickly to avoid hazards.
Chimney fires can attract more guests because many guests love and demand them. However, chimney fires are also fairly common and, therefore, require routine maintenance.
Clean them regularly to reduce the risk of fire or gas poisoning. Also, supply guests with instructions for safe usage, lighting, and turning off. Provide a fireguard to prevent sparks from straying on the skin or flammable materials.
Holiday Lets Gas Safety Regulations
Since numerous households use a gas supply to fuel cooking appliances and central heating, gas safety regulations are one of the essential requirements for holiday let owners. That’s because it has risks, such as gas leaks, fire, explosion, and gas poisoning.
For example, holiday home regulations UK has set clear standards for gas safety, whether long-term, short-term, or flexible lettings. For any property that employs a gas supply, its owners must ensure all fittings are done properly, maintained regularly, and they are required to obtain a Gas Safety Certificate.
Gas Safety Certificate
The Gas Safety Certificate, also known as CP12, is a legal document that certifies that all gas appliances are examined and asserted safe for use. To obtain this certificate, a Gas Safe Engineer must check the appliances within the property, including pipework and flues.
This assessment is to be carried out annually, and holiday homeowners are required to provide a copy of the certificate at the property for guests. It should contain all the items checked, their location, inspection results, and, when necessary, actions the owner needs to take.
Carbon monoxide alarms
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that's colourless, tasteless, and odourless. It is produced when carbon-based fuels do not burn out completely. Burning of wood, coal, oil, and gas, as well as electricity generators, cars, and cigarettes, are examples of carbon monoxide sources.
Since this gas is dangerous when inhaled, monitoring its emission is essential. Carbon monoxide alarms are used to detect unacceptable levels of carbon monoxide emission within the property.
These devices are cost-effective, and landlords must have them installed in locations that are open to the risk of carbon monoxide. That includes rooms with open fires or others with gas appliances.
Holiday Lets Electrical Safety Regulations
Electricity and electrical appliances are some of the most common features of every home. So, electrical safety is essential, especially as electrical fires are very common.
Electrical appliances cause 4,000 accidents and around 30 deaths every year in the UK. That is because they break down over time, and things can escalate if not quickly attended to. Therefore, it is the obligation of the landlord to prevent electrical hazards and damage to their or guests' properties by keeping the electrical system in top condition at all times.
To achieve this electrical safety, holiday let owners must ensure regular checks of the entire system and appliances.
Electrical Safety Certificate in the UK
Unlike fire and gas safety, the law did not mandate the house owner to obtain a certificate for electrical safety unless you live in Scotland. Holiday let rules & regulations Scotland require PAT testing alongside a landlord electrical safety certificate called EICR inspections.
However, since 2020, general UK regulations, also have required all electrical installations to be checked and tested. These will be carried out by a certified electrician at least once every five years.
The UK has a standard for electrical installation safety known as the BS 7671, which the electrician will check your installations against. If they are certified safe for guests, you get an all-clear and a report whose copy you should provide for guests.
You should also inspect the electrical installations whenever you're able to do so. Electrical appliances can malfunction without warning, and detecting them early can save you a lot of stress.
Create a checklist of things to check, take a look before and after every let, provide usage instructions for guests and change faulty items immediately. Check the electrical safety standards guide by the government for more information.
Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) is an annual assessment of electrical appliances for potential risks, damages, defects, etc. The examination is done by a certified electrician, and it involves testing all appliances like the TV, toaster, refrigerator, lamps, etc.
Holiday Lets Oil Safety Regulations
If a holiday home is located in areas without access to mains gas, the main alternative is to use oil for boilers and other appliances. However, there are also risks of hazards that arise from faulty oil appliances and gas poisoning risks from oil storage.
The law states that all oil-powered appliances must be maintained by following instructions from the manufacturer. Storage must also be done following guidelines outlined by the government. Learn more about the government’s regulations on oil storage.
Oil Safety Certificate
As a holiday let owner, you are not under any legal obligation to possess an oil safety certificate, but it is necessary and recommended for the safety of guests. An OFTEC-certified technician will assess all oil-powered appliances annually and issue an Oil Installation Check form (OFTEC CD/12). The certificate affirms that the owner has carried out safety checks concerning oil.
Swimming Pool and Hot Tub Regulations for Holiday Lets
Adding a luxury item to your holiday home will make guests fall in love with your property. Some of the most popular luxury additions homeowners use include swimming pools and hot tubs.
Research by Sykes Staycation reveals that 62% more guests want a property with a hot tub and that these properties earn 54% more than others.
However, it also means additional risks, requiring the owner to follow swimming pool and hot tub regulations for holiday lets. Therefore, it is essential to always maintain and keep them safe by carrying out risk assessments and placing precautions to prevent hazards.
Follow these steps to keep your swimming pool safe:
- Maintain the pool regularly and keep the records safe.
- Set rules and regulations for using the pool and outline them clearly in your welcome pack.
- Install non-slip surfaces around the pool to avoid slipping.
- Provide equipment like a ladder, ring, and life hook for safety.
- Place signs around the pool indicating instructions like water depth, adult supervision, diving prohibition, etc.
- Fence the pool area.
- Carry out risk assessments to discover any hazard risk you're missing.
- Consult local pool regulations and make sure you're on the right side of it.
Covid Deep Cleaning
Since the coronavirus pandemic, it has become important to apply more stringent cleaning procedures in holiday let properties as part of the health and safety checks.
Holiday let owners must ensure in-depth cleaning procedures and measures to disinfect and minimise the risk of spreading the coronavirus pathogen. Cleaning should be done before and after visits. You can get more information from the government website if you are running your business in the UK.
The Covid cleaning procedure may vary from country to country. If you are not familiar with your local regulations, don’t hesitate to reach out to Houst team for guidance.
Keeping Your Property and Guests Safe
As much as you want to keep your guests safe within your holiday home, you also want to ensure the protection of your property for future guests and continued revenue.
You can further protect your investment by obtaining holiday let insurance. This is a specialist form of insurance that covers properties rented to guests. It will cover the building and its contents in the event of damage, as well as expenses for injuries sustained on your property.
Another thing to note is planning permission is required for holiday lets. Most holiday lets will not need one if you’re not changing the use or making any physical change to the property. However, you may need one in case you’re converting the whole or part of the building.
The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) is the body in charge of legislation, and it's essential to update yourself with the resources on their website. They will highlight your responsibilities and update you as newer developments arise. Our blog here at Houst is another beneficial channel for getting updated on the latest for running a property business safely.
How you deal with legal requirements for letting a holiday property can make or mar your investment or rental business. And considering you won't be around to ensure safety, leaving anything to chance will always be a mistake.
The steps and health safety checks outlined above will help you achieve these while putting your mind at peace over guests and properties. However, to get to the point where you need to consider health and safety, you first need a property and probably a mortgage - check out this mortgage guide to learn more about the 210 days rule and mortgage criteria.
Here at Houst, we help property owners manage all the important aspects of their investments to generate more income. From hosting properties and pricing to safety management, helping you apply for a licence and cleaning properties professionally, we are dedicated to eliminating all the hassles related to property hosting. You can reach out to us today to get started.