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Buying a holiday let is an exciting investment but, as a property owner, as well as thinking about décor and what to include in your welcome packs, it’s essential that you are up to speed with the latest holiday let legal requirements.
To help you get to grips with holiday let rules and regulations in England, here we detail everything you need to know. You can also read about the rules and regulations for holiday lets in Scotland.
Ensuring that your holiday let is a safe environment will allow both you and your guests to relax in the knowledge that potential risks have been eliminated. As a business owner, having proper health and safety measures in place could also reduce your liability should an accident happen.
Some general holiday let health and safety actions to consider as an owner include:
To help you with a risk assessment and plan of action for your property, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has resources for businesses.
If you provide holiday accommodation in England or Wales for paying guests, it’s a legal requirement to carry out a fire risk assessment. Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, you are responsible for taking measures to protect those staying in your property from the risk of fire.
You may be able to carry out a fire risk assessment yourself, or could enlist the help of a professional. A fire risk assessment is a comprehensive look at your property, thinking about the types of people likely to stay in it and considering vulnerable guests, such as young children, elderly guests and those with disabilities. It will identify the fire risks and what measures you need to put in place to reduce or remove this risk. You should keep a written record of this and regularly review it.
Visit Britain offers useful fire risk assessment resources, including a fire risk assessment template and other useful documents to help ensure your property follows holiday let fire safety rules.
Another way to increase the fire safety in your holiday let is to provide equipment such as fire extinguishers and fire blankets. Government guidance recommends having one extinguisher near the stairs on each floor, and a fire blanket in the kitchen of small properties. Make sure this equipment is checked regularly and there are also clear instructions on how to use these items for your guests, as well as a warning that these should only be used to tackle very small fires. You may also want to provide a simple evacuation plan for guests.
If you provide self-catered accommodation containing upholstered furniture, you must abide by the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988. These put in place fire resistance standards for upholstered furniture – both new and second hand. This means that upholstered furniture must comply with certain safety tests. Visit Britain’s fire safety and furnishings advice tells you more.
The type of automatic detection and fire warning system that you will need to install depends on the size of your property. If your property is two or three storeys, you’re likely to need an automatic fire detection system that runs from the mains electricity with a battery back-up, known as a Grade D LD2 system. You will need to put detectors in corridors, staircases and bedrooms.
In smaller properties with two or three bedrooms and no more than two storeys, a connected system of detectors with a 10-year battery, or radio interlinked detectors (Grade F LD2 system), may be enough.
If you are unsure about which system your property needs, your risk assessment should held identify this.
With either system, you’ll also need a heat detector in the kitchen that is linked to the rest of the system. Either system must also be tested regularly to ensure that it works and is loud enough to wake sleeping guests.
Faulty electrics can lead to fires, injuries and even more serious consequences, so it’s your duty of care to make sure that your property is a safe environment for guests.
You should perform regular visual checks of electrical items to make sure that they aren’t deteriorating due to wear and tear, and Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) at a minimum of every five years. At Sykes, we recommend that PAT testing is carried out by a qualified electrician.
You could also leave instructions/handbooks for your electrical items to ensure guests use them correctly, reducing the risk of having faulty appliances.
Gas leaks can be extremely dangerous and can lead to fires or explosions, while carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal. Therefore the rules and regulations in place for holiday let owners to maintain the safety of gas appliances and protect guests are crucial to adhere to.
Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 you’ll have to make sure all gas appliances, fittings, chimneys and flues are maintained and are in a safe condition. You’ll also have to arrange an annual gas safety check on each appliance by a Gas Safe registered engineer. You will be given a Gas Safety certificate (also known as a CP12 certificate) and you must keep a written record of the inspection for a minimum of two years.
It is also best practice to install a carbon monoxide detector in every room where gas or oil is burnt and in rooms where there is a woodburner or open fire. You should also put detectors in the kitchen unless all appliances are electric, as well as any room where there is a central heating boiler.
Having a swimming pool or a hot tub can attract more guests to book your holiday let, but both can be dangerous if proper safety measures aren’t undertaken or you don’t adequately maintain them.
As with other potential hazards in your holiday let, you should undertake a thorough risk assessment of your swimming pool to ensure that your negligence isn’t the cause of an accident. Consider measures such as putting safety signs up, think about any slip or trip hazards and provide holiday let house rules around pool safety for guests. You may also want to install a fence around the pool. Follow the HSE swimming pool health and safety guidelines for extra security.
If your property has a hot tub, you will also need to undertake a risk assessment, and make sure you understand how to operate and maintain your hot tub safely for guests. HSE’s hot tub operation and management guide offers further information around how to control risks from legionella and other infectious agents, plus other potential hazards.
If you have a TV in your accommodation and guests can watch or stream live TV on it, you’ll need a TV licence. For holiday lets, you’ll need a special type called a Hotel and Mobile Units Television Licence (hotel licence). Currently, a single TV licence costing £157.50 will cover up to 15 accommodation units on a single site – so if you have holiday cottages in different locations, you’ll need a separate licence for each location. The TV Lincensing website tells you more.
You will also need a license if you provide a DVD film library for your guests, as providing films to paying guests without a licence is an infringement of copyright law (the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988). Two main organisations issue licences to businesses; Filmbank Media and MPLC. Prices will depend on the size of your accommodation and the length of the licence. If you don’t provide DVDs and guests bring their own, you won’t need a licence.
Depending on the size and type of your holiday let, you may also need a copyright licence to play music on a device, as the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 states “any use of copyrighted music in public is possible only with the permission of the person who holds the copyright to the music being played”. So, you may need something called TheMusicLicence in order to avoid this.
However, you probably won’t need a licence for music if you only own one holiday let with three bedrooms or less. Talking about who needs a music copyright licences, Visit Britain explains that you will be exempt if:
While it’s not a legal requirement to take out holiday home insurance, not doing so could be a costly mistake if something were to go wrong, such as a fire, flood or break-in. As well as offering buildings and contents cover, specialist holiday let insurance can provide financial protection against other items including:
Public liability insurance can be used to cover legal claims should someone injure themselves or property in your holiday home. To make sure our owners are protected, we ask all Sykes Holiday Cottage owners to take this out as part of our agreement.
We have a partnership with Bollington Insurance, who can offer a tailored insurance package with a minimum of £2 million public liability cover. Always read the terms and conditions of any policy you are considering carefully before you take it out to ensure you are happy with the levels of cover.
It’s also important to take the right type of mortgage out for your holiday let. If you plan to let a property out for short-term holidays, you’ll need a holiday let mortgage. Residential mortgages and buy-to-let mortgages are not designed for holiday lets. CMME Mortgages tell you all you need to know about holiday let mortgages in a guest post they wrote for us.
If you provide accommodation, the Equality Act 2010 applies to you. You must ensure that you treat disabled guests as you would other guests and make reasonable adjustments to your property.
You should think about your property and any needs a disabled guest may have and, to help disabled guests or other customers with accessibility needs decide whether your property is suitable for them, you could provide an Accessibility Guide which clearly communicates your facilities and services.
Visit Britain’s Accessibility Guide provides more information.
While you will pay council tax for your home, if your holiday property in England is available to let for short periods totalling 140 days or more in a year (20 weeks), it will be classed as a self-catering property and you’ll have to pay business rates rather than council tax.
Our guide to council tax and business rates for holiday lets tells you all you need to know.
*Based on a 7 bedroom property in the Lake District with bookings between October 2017 to September 2018.
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