If you are planning to run a holiday let, it is crucial that you understand your legal obligations. Covering everything from fire safety to property insurance, there’s a number of legislations that you must adhere to, in order to ensure the safety of you, your guests, and potential employees. In this article, we discuss holiday let regulations in the UK.
Holiday letting permission
First and foremost, make sure that you’re allowed to use the property as a holiday let. You should ask your solicitor to check your title deed or leasehold agreement, to make sure that there are no restrictions or occupancy covenants.
For example, many manor houses that have been converted into luxury flats contain restrictions that do not allow holiday letting, as the residents of such prestige flats don’t like the idea of strangers accessing their building and their facilities.
Safety of the property
You will be responsible for health and safety of your guests and other occupants. As a result, you must review and take steps to ensure that your holiday home meets current regulations. For example, you must carry out a general safety review of the house and its grounds, identifying dangerous drops or potential trip hazards.
Inspect your property regularly to ensure there aren’t any developing hazards – a wobbly banister for example, or a carpet that’s coming loose and is therefore a trip hazard. You should also make sure that there’s a first aid kit that guests can use if needed.
Whilst is perfectly fine to undertake a safety assessment yourself, for large or more complex properties, it’s recommended that you hire the services of a health and safety consultant to do the review.
You should conduct or arrange for a fire risk assessment and equip your holiday home with items such as a fire blanket, extinguisher, battery powered torches, and smoke/heat alarms. It’s also important to note that the equipment should be checked regularly.
Give your guests information about the location of the fire extinguisher, exits, and potential hazards – for example, if there’s a wood burner that gets very hot, don’t leave things on top of it! You should also identify the escape route from the property in the event of a fire. What’s more, while it is often overlooked, you should make sure that your external doors can be quickly opened from within, for example in a real fire emergency, without the need of a key.
Electrical and gas safety
If your property has gas, you must have the boiler and all gas appliances checked and signed off by a GasSafe engineer – this must be done annually. A copy of the certificate should be left at the property for the guests to inspect.
You should also carry out safety checks to ensure that electrical systems and appliances are well maintained and working correctly. Old wiring in a period property should be examined and signed off by a qualified electrician.
There’s the option to do PAT (Portable Appliance Test) testing on all small electrical devices in your property (for example, hair dryers, Bluetooth speakers, and so on) to add an extra layer of safety – doing this testing is cheap and visually effective, but it is not a strict legal requirement.
Guests should also have access to operating instructions for all electrical equipment as part of the in-house instructions folder.
You must have working carbon monoxide detectors positioned close to gas appliances and any form of combustion, including log burners and open fires. You might need to have detectors in more than one room, depending on the property. You should also check your carbon monoxide detectors regularly, to ensure that they are working efficiently.
Any upholstered furniture in your holiday home should comply with the safety regulations (for example, a sofa must be made with the correct fire-retardant material). It’s a legal requirement in the UK, so make sure you check!
You must insure your property with an appropriate level of public liability insurance, normally at least £2m, to cover you in the event of a major incident.
Make sure that you have building and contents insurance, as well as taking out specific holiday home insurance (this includes public liability cover).
Generating a public access statement for your holiday home (including details of the height and number of steps, door access widths, and so on) is not a legal requirement for normal holiday homes, but providing such information is very helpful for guests with mobility issues.
When it comes to marketing your holiday home, it is essential to provide an accurate and detailed description of the property. It is against the law to produce misleading marketing material or incorrect descriptions.