Buying a holiday home to let is not just as easy as purchasing a property and the bookings come...
It may come as a surprise, but the safety requirements for holiday let owners are the same as those for long-term let landlords. But while you must meet your legal requirements, there are also areas you can easily cover to ensure your guests have a safe visit to your property.
Many properties in the UK have a gas supply, whether it is for the central heating or cooking appliances. Of course, having such appliances in your property comes with associated risks; these include fire, explosion, gas leaks and carbon monoxide poisoning.
When it comes to gas safety in your holiday let, here are the key areas you need to be aware of.
Whether you own a holiday let or are a long-term let landlord, the rules are the same. You, as the landlord, are responsible for the safety of your guests and are required, by law, to hold a valid Gas Safety Certificate.
As well as having gas appliances regularly maintained and serviced by a Gas Safe registered engineer, you are legally required to obtain a Gas Safety Certificate, also referred to as a CP12.
A Gas Safety Certificate provides details of your latest inspection by a Gas Safe registered engineer. It will cover all items checked during the inspection. These are required when there are gas appliances in your property (or grounds) and the inspection will assess the safety of appliances, flues and pipework.
Gas safety Certificates can only be issued by a Gas Safe registered engineer after an inspection. You do not need to be present during the inspection, but your details will need to appear on the certificate.
The price of this inspection will depend on how many gas appliances you have in your property. For example, an inspection and certificate from British Gas start at £75.
You will need to renew your Gas Safety Certificate every 12 months and this will require another inspection by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
You are required to keep your certificates for a minimum of two years; however, it is good practice to keep a record of all your certificates.
A copy of your certificate must be displayed in a prominent place where your guests will see it. It must also indicate how they can obtain a copy. A reputable holiday letting agency can store an electrical copy for you, which can be produced to your guests upon request.
To find a qualified gas engineer, check the Gas Safe Register.
Faulty electrics can result in serious injury, death or fire. Electrical equipment and wires deteriorate with use and time, and it is important to ensure your guests are safe during their stay. When it comes to electrical safety in a holiday let, here’s what you need to know.
Unlike gas, there is no legal requirement for you, the landlord, to obtain and renew an Electrical Safety Certificate. However, landlords are required, by law, to ensure that all electrical appliances, circuits and fixed installations within the property are safe and are not hazardous to their guests.
Electrical safety checks can be carried out by yourself, but it is strongly recommended that you get a full inspection by a qualified electrician to ensure the electrical items in your holiday let are safe.
As previously outlined, there is no legal requirement for you to obtain a certificate. However, having your property inspected by a qualified electrical engineer will ensure your electrics are safe. The resulting certificate provides you with proof that the inspection has been carried out and that you have met your duty of care as a holiday let owner.
Inspections will check the condition of your electrical installations against the BS 7671, the UK standard for the safety of electrical installations. The checks carried out by the engineer will establish whether the appliances and installation are safe for your guests.
All electrical equipment will deteriorate with use and time. It is recommended that the maximum period between inspections is 5 years, but dependent on the volume of guests you cater for, you may wish to have your property inspected more frequently.
Unofficial inspections should be carried out wherever possible, either by yourself or whoever manages the changeover at your property. Having a checklist of items to inspect will be a huge advantage to the efficiency of this inspection. Any hazards must be acted upon immediately. This may be as simple as removing or replacing a defective appliance from the property that you believe to be hazardous, to getting an electrician to replace or repair a fitting.
Electrical safety devices, such as an RCD, add an extra level of protection for your guests. An RCD monitors the flow of electricity within a circuit and identifies any loss of current, such as it being diverted through your body, and, upon detection, it shuts down the supply immediately to reduce injury.
RCD devices can be included in the consumer unit (also known as a fusebox), sockets or even a plug adaptor.
Since July 2008, it has become a legal requirement for all circuits in new builds or rewired homes to include an RCD. If your home was built or rewired before this time, then you may want to consider having an electrician inspect your circuits and rewire your home if necessary. At a minimum, you ought to have RCDs added in areas that are damp, such as kitchens, bathrooms, hot tubs or pools.
RCDs need to be tested frequently by pushing the “test” button. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions on how often this should be done, but, to avoid doubt, this could be added to your changeover checklist.
For more information on electrical safety, take a look at the Health and Safety Executive Guidance.
The risk of fire is present in all holiday lets. Here are various things you can do to reduce this risk and to ensure the safety of your guests.
Legislation requires you to carry out a fire risk assessment. This assessment will determine if there are any fire hazards and who is at risk. You, the landlord, can carry out this assessment, however, if you are unfamiliar with such assessments, getting a qualified fire consultant to do this for you will ensure the safety of your guests.
During your fire safety risk assessment, there are certain things you need to evaluate and identify. You can conduct a fire risk assessment yourself, but if you’re unsure, you should seek advice or hire a professional to conduct this assessment for you. In summary, the assessment will focus on the following areas:
Area 1 – Identify and remove/reduce fire hazards
A fire needs the following three things to start:
A fire risk assessment will identify the sources of the above three things. By identifying these, steps can be taken to reduce their risk, such as installing a hearth around a fireplace and ensuring furniture is fire retardant.
Area 2 – Identify people who are at risk
It is important to identify who will be at risk. Of course, these people will be your guests, but it is necessary to be more specific during this stage. For example, do you cater for people with disabilities or children? Once the people who are at risk have been identified, it is important to assess how easily they will evacuate the property in the event of an emergency.
You are required to keep this assessment up to date, but the laws do not specify how regularly this has to be done. As a general guidance, it is recommended that your holiday let is reassessed every 12 months or whenever the property changes, such as an addition of new furniture.
It is a legal requirement for you to install a smoke alarm on every floor of your holiday let that is used for living space. However, the more smoke alarms you have, the safer your property will be.
For maximum protection, an alarm should be installed in every room, except bathrooms. Attention should be placed on rooms that are most likely to cause a fire, for example, a kitchen or room with an open fire.
The most reliable type of smoke alarms are those that are wired into your property’s electrical supply and have a separate battery backup in case of a power cut. The “test” buttons should be used frequently to ensure they are in working order – this could be part of your changeover plan.
For more information on the different types of smoke detectors, check the Fire Service’s advice.
Having a log burner or open fire in your holiday let is an extremely desirable feature. Such a feature comes with associated risks. If you have an open fire or log burner in your holiday let, then here are a few areas you ought to consider:
As many holiday cottages are in a secluded location, they have an oil supply instead of gas. Similar to gas, faults in oil appliances can lead to Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Along with the various regulations, you will need to ensure you are in compliance with, you’ll need to consider the following things to warrant the safety of your guests.
There is no legal requirement for holiday let owners to obtain an Oil Safety Certificate. However, it is recommended that you have your appliances and equipment inspected by an OFTEC Registered Technician who can supply a OFTEC CD/12 Landlord Oil Installation Check form.
By law (BS 5410), you are required to have your oil-fired appliances and equipment serviced periodically, in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions – this is usually every 12 months.
It is recommended that you inspect the storage tanks and supply pipes frequently for any leaks.
To find an OFTEC Registered Technician, visit the OFTEC site.
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that has no smell or taste. Inhaling this gas can be fatal. Carbon monoxide is produced when fuels, such as gas or oil, aren’t burnt fully. Burning charcoal, running cars and cigarettes also produce carbon monoxide gas.
As well as having appliances, such as your boiler, frequently inspected and serviced, carbon monoxide detectors must be installed to identify the presence of this harmful gas.
You are legally required to fit a carbon monoxide alarm in every room containing a fossil fuel-burning appliance, such as a boiler, oven or log burner.
For more information on carbon monoxide detectors, view the Q&A booklet for landlords.
Ensuring your guests are safe during their stay and that you meet your responsibilities as a landlord is of paramount importance. Here are the key facts in the five areas covered in this article:
Gas: You are required by law to hold a valid Gas Safety Certificate.
Electricity: Electrical safety devices ought to be installed in areas that are damp, such as the kitchen.
Fire: Poorly maintained tumble dryers are one of the largest causes of domestic house fires.
Oil: You are required by law to have oil-fired appliances and equipment serviced periodically.
Carbon Monoxide: You must install a carbon monoxide alarm in every room containing a fossil fuel-burning appliance.
*At the time of publishing (25 May 2017), Sykes Cottages has taken all reasonable care to ensure that the information contained in this article is accurate. However, no warranty or representation is given that the information is complete or free from errors or inaccuracies.
*Based on a 7 bedroom property in the Lake District with bookings between October 2017 to September 2018.
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