Rules, regulations, and recommendations for
Short Term Holiday Lets

Information and guidance to assist homeowners who provide short term self-catering holiday accommodation to reduce the risk of fire and to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Here is our guide to holiday let rules and regulations, with details on the legal requirements for letting a holiday property.

What legislation applies to me as a holiday let owner?

Every self-catering holiday home, flat, apartment, or cottage will have its unique risks and are subject to specific holiday let rules and regulations that must be adhered to. These rules and regulations are established and in place not only to protect your guests, but you, your holiday let business, and property.

Here is our guide to holiday let rules and regulations, with details on the legal requirements for letting a holiday property.

What is Fire Safety Law?

Fire Safety Law (known as the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005) was introduced in 2006 and makes holiday homeowners responsible for taking measures to protect guests from the risks of fire.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 applies to England and Wales, but there is equivalent legislation in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The law requires you to undertake a fire risk assessment, identify any potential fire risks and act on the findings to ensure the fire precautions are sufficient to protect guests.

Does it apply to you?

Yes: Fire Safety Law will apply to all tourism accommodation providers including holiday homeowners; if anyone pays to stay in your property, other than to live as a permanent home, you will need to comply.

Who enforces the legislation?

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 is enforced by the local fire and rescue service. Fire Safety Officers will make periodic visits to the premises and will ask to see the fire risk assessment to ensure that it is ‘suitable and sufficient’.

Are you complying with the law?

First, you have a legal responsibility to comply with fire safety law if you are hiring out your property for short-term lets. The key piece of legislation here is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order  2005 which puts the responsibility on you to ensure your guests remain safe while staying at your property.

The Fire Safety Order is designed to ensure you put in measures that keep people staying at your home, caravan, flat or other property safe from harm. Irrespective of the moral argument, this is a legal duty that could lead to prosecution (and possibly imprisonment) if you are found to be negligent and not have the right equipment and processes in place whether you are only letting out your property every so often or regularly.

How do I comply?

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires every business to nominate a person to take responsibility for carrying out a fire risk assessment of the premises and ensure that fire protection and prevention measures are observed and maintained.

Note: It is a requirement of VisitEngland’s National Quality Assessment Scheme for businesses to provide proof to their assessor that an annual fire risk assessment has been carried out. In addition, for any business, your public liability insurance provider will also require proof that you have undertaken an assessment.

If you’re new to holiday letting or have not already completed a fire risk assessment it can be difficult to know where to start. For this reason, we have created this quick guide in what your legal responsibilities are and tips on simple ways to ensure your guests are safe whilst staying at your property.

What Do You Need To Do?

There are three core areas to Fire Safety Law compliance:

  1. Conduct a fire risk assessment. This evaluates your property and highlights any areas where your guests may be at risk if a fire breaks out and informs you of any measures you need to put in place. This will cover areas of fire safety such as:
  • Escape routes: If a fire breaks out, how will your guests exit the property safely?
  • What fire alarms and warning systems do you have in place?
  • What firefighting equipment do you have and where is it situated?
  • How do you manage the storage or removal of materials that could be a fire hazard?
  • Do you have a fire evacuation plan and where is information about this located?
  • How will you handle the safety of vulnerable people? For example, if you have elderly or disabled people staying at your property, what measures are there in place to give them extra time to evacuate. 
  1. Once the assessment is produced, you need to act on any recommendations and improve your fire safety measures as a result of issues highlighted within the assessment.
  2. Keep the risks and measures under constant review.

What is a fire risk assessment?

A fire risk assessment is a structured consideration of the fire hazards and management of fire in the premises. It can be undertaken in five steps:

  • Identify the fire hazards.
  • Identify the people at risk.
  • Evaluate, remove, reduce and protect from risk.
  • Record, plan, inform, instruct and train.
  • Review the assessment and update if necessary.

Which fire alarm system?

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires that premises are provided with suitable and sufficient means of detecting fire and giving warning in the event of a fire. For small buildings this may be inter-linked mains-powered smoke and heat alarms that both sound in the event of a fire.

The types of system required will, however, depend on the level of the risk. Guidelines for small premises are that they can install simple systems – LD2 or LD3 – that comprise mains-operated smoke and heat alarms with battery back-up. LD2 properties must have alarms in corridors and all rooms leading off the main escape route, while LD3 properties require them only in the corridor, landing and hallway of the main escape route. Current legislation defines a ‘small’ property as being up to two storeys high (from the ground) with no floor more than 200 square metres in total.

Smoke detectors

It is a legal requirement to install a smoke alarm in all premises used as self-catering holiday lets. The most reliable are those that are mains-wired automatic detection and have a separate battery backup in case there is a power cut. These must be tested regularly and must be loud enough to wake anyone sleeping on the property.

Where should smoke alarms be installed?

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.

The most reliable type of smoke alarms is 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.

Do You Require a Carbon Monoxide Detector?

Where a property has a gas appliance, the HSE strongly recommends the use of carbon monoxide (CO) alarms as a useful precaution and to give guests advanced warning of carbon monoxide in the property. Make sure to check the devices regularly and provide your guest with instructions on how to operate all gas appliances safely.

For holiday lets in England, The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 states that you are legally required to fit a carbon monoxide detector in rooms containing a solid fuel-burning appliance such as a log burner or an open fire. As gas appliances can also emit carbon dioxide it is strongly advisable to also install carbon monoxide detectors in any rooms that have gas or oil appliances such as an oven or boiler.  

In February 2019 Scotland passed new laws that require homes to be fitted with carbon monoxide detectors in all rooms that have carbon-fuelled appliances such as fires, boilers, ovens, and heaters. These laws came into effect in February 2021.

In Northern Ireland the Building Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 requires carbon monoxide alarms to be mandatory when extending, renovating, or building new homes with a fuel-burning appliance after 31 October 2012. In Wales, the Building Regulations 2010 requires properties to have a carbon monoxide alarm fitted when installing a new or replacing an old solid fuel heater.       

What causes carbon monoxide poisoning?

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. This may happen because a household appliance has been poorly maintained or installed incorrectly. Burning charcoal, running cars, and cigarettes also produce carbon monoxide gas.

How to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning

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. Publish relevant certificates as part of the property information.

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.

Gas and electric safety certificates

It is essential that your property’s gas. electricity and oil services have safety certificates and you do all you can to protect your tenants from the risk of fire.

In England, from 1 June 2020, all landlords need to have the electrics checked by a qualified electrician to ensure that they are safe. This is required for a new tenancy from June and from 1 April 2021 for existing tenancies. Checks need to be carried out every five years and the electrical safety condition report (EICR) must be provided to both new and retained tenants.

Gas

If your holiday let contains any gas appliances (either mains gas or LPG gas), it’s your legal obligation to ensure that all appliances are correctly installed, are well-maintained by certified Gas Safe engineers, checked on an annual basis and that the correct alarms are fitted in the event anything does go wrong. It is also your responsibility not only to ensure that the appliances, but their fittings, flues, and chimney are maintained. As a holiday let owner, you need to be aware of the latest gas safety regulations and the required checks that need to be carried out within your property.

According to the HSE, you must ensure gas appliances are checked annually and that a CP12 certificate (landlord’s gas safety certificate) is provided for the property, covering all relevant appliances.

CP12 checks should only be conducted by a registered Gas Safe engineer who must provide a copy to you, along with one copy retained for your heating company and one displayed in the property for your guests to see.

The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 outlines the legal duties of self-catering accommodation providers in relation to gas appliances.

Gas safety regulations for landlords

Many properties in the UK have a gas supply, whether it is for 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.

Who needs a gas safety certificate?

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.

What is a Gas Safety Certificate and when is it required?

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.

How to obtain a Gas Safety Certificate?

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.

Note: It is a statutory obligation of VisitEngland’s National Quality Assessment Scheme for businesses to provide proof to their assessor that an annual Gas Safety check has been carried out and all gas appliances have been checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

How often do you need to renew your Gas Safety Certificate?

You will need to renew your Gas Safety Certificate every 12 months and this will require another inspection by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

What do you do with your Gas Safety Certificate?

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 electronic copy for you, which can be produced for your guests upon request.

Electrics

  • You are legally required as part of your fire risk assessment to make sure that electrical equipment and appliances are kept in a good, safe condition for your guests to use.
  • If your guests report a fault with any appliance, it must be checked as quickly as possible and not used until checks are completed.
  • All of your electrical appliances should be PAT (Portable Appliance Testing) tested and regularly checked over by a qualified professional.
  • Keep an eye on your plugs as overloading extension plugs can start a fire. It’s best to stick to one plug in each socket.

Electrical safety for landlords

The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 states that you have a duty of care to ensure all electrical appliances, wiring, circuits, and fixed installations within your property are safe.

Unlike gas appliances, there does not appear to be any specific requirement for an annual inspection on electrical equipment. However, in order to demonstrate that you are complying with the electrical safety requirements, it is strongly recommended that an NICEIC registered electrician undertakes a full electrical inspection and you obtain an Electrical Safety Certificate. As electrical equipment will deteriorate over time it is recommended that you undertake an inspection at least every five years. Your electrician should be able to recommend appropriate intervals for safety checks.

As your duty of care applies to both installed and portable electrical appliances you should also undertake regular Portable Appliance Testing (PAT). There appear to be no laws stating how often PAT testing should be carried out but it is best practice to have your appliances checked once a year. Ensure there is a clear record of when the testing was carried out and add PAT testing stickers to the relevant items. 

It is also important to carry out regular visual electrical inspections yourself. Look out for damaged cables, loose sockets, frayed wiring, burn marks, hot sockets or plugs, flickering lights, or tripping. Keep a written record of each visual inspection. 

What are the regulations for electricity safety?

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.

What is an Electrical Safety Certificate?

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: 2018+ A1: 2020, the UK standard for the safety of electrical installations.

How often do you need to renew your Electrical Safety Certificate?

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.

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.

What are electrical safety devices and how do they work?

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.

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 periodic checklist.

BS 7671: 2018+ A1: 2020 made it a legal requirement for circuits in new or rewired homes to include a residual current device (RCD). An RCD is a safety device that automatically switches the electricity off if there is a fault. If your holiday home was re-wired or built before this time there is no legal requirement to add one. However, if you strive to achieve ‘best practice’ rather than ‘getting by with the minimum required’ then it would be a good idea to have RCD protection fitted onto the circuits in your property. It is also best practice to include operating instructions for all electrical equipment in your holiday home (the welcome folder is a good place).

Oil

Some holiday homes in a secluded location might have an oil supply if they are not on mains gas. By law (BS 5410) holiday homeowners are required to have any oil-fired equipment and appliances serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, which is usually once a year.

What is an Oil Safety Certificate?

There appears to be no legal requirement to obtain an Oil Safety Certificate but as faults in oil appliances can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning it is recommended that you have your oil-fired appliances and equipment inspected by someone who can complete an OFTEC CD/12 Landlord Oil Installation Check form. It is also a good idea to inspect the storage tanks and supply pipes regularly to check for any leaks.  

How often do oil-fired appliances and equipment need to be serviced?

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.

Kitchen Safety Tips

Ensure your kitchen, including small and large appliances and equipment, is cleaned thoroughly and regularly as the build-up of fat and grease can cause a fire risk.

  • Make sure you have a fire blanket or extinguisher readily accessible in your kitchen so that guests can use it in case of emergency.
  • Make sure any appliances like grills and toasters are kept away from curtains, cloths, and kitchen rolls. You should also regularly empty and clean your appliances, as a build-up of crumbs and debris can pose a fire risk.
  • Leave appliance instructions; not only will it be appreciated by your guests and save any headaches; it will also prevent appliances from being used incorrectly.

log burners or open fires

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:

  • Having your chimney swept annually.
  • An adequate hearth.
  • A suitable fireguard (if you cater for children, then an additional child guard will be necessary).

Chimney Fires

  • Your chimney should be swept at least once a year and after any long periods of no use.
  • A fireguard will prevent sparks from landing on the carpet and furniture and prevent the risk of damage and fire.
  • Display a fire notice so that guests know what to do in case of a fire. Some guests may be unfamiliar with fire safety and a fire notice will help to clear up any uncertainty.
  • Consider removing any artificial accelerants from your holiday let to avoid any overzealous guest from creating a bigger fire than intended.

Note:  On 1st May 2021 the Air Quality (Domestic Solid Fuels Standards) (England) Regulations 2020 came into force to restrict the use of coal, wet wood, and manufactured solid fuels for burning and a cleaner alternative fuel is to be used, such as dry wood and manufactured solid fuels which produce less smoke.  Both of these cleaner options are just as easy to source and are more efficient to burn, making them more cost-effective.  Burning dry wood also produces more heat and less soot than wet wood and can reduce emissions by up to 50%.

Fire safety of furniture and fittings

While self-catering holiday lets are considered a low risk, you still need to make sure your furniture and furnishings comply with commercial fire safety standards.

You must be able to prove that any of the furniture and fittings you have supplied in a property comply with the standards set out in the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988. The regulations state that all upholstered cushions, pillows, furniture, beds, mattresses, headboards, and sofa beds meet the set fire resistance standard. This includes ensuring the upholstered furniture has a fire-resistant filling material, the cover fabric passes a match resistance test, and the cover fabric and filling material pass a cigarette resistance test.

These regulations are in place to make sure that any upholstered furniture supplied for domestic use has a certain level of fire resistance. If you are letting out your holiday property, the regulations apply to every upholstered item in the property and it is required that they are suitably labelled.

It is worth noting that the regulations apply to both new and second-hand furniture but not to antique furniture made before 1950.

Candles

According to the Home Office, two fires a day are started by candles. Whilst they add a lovely atmosphere to a room if you wish to provide your guests with candles, ensure you have:

  • Placed them in sturdy, flat-bottomed holders with sides high enough to stop the flame from licking the top and catching onto anything.
  • Put them out of reach of lower shelves and somewhere they won’t get blown or knocked over.

Smoking

The majority of holiday let properties do not allow smoking; however, if you do allow smoking in your property here’s what you can do to minimise risk.

  • Have a designated smoking area outside.
  • Provide fitted or weighted ashtrays so they won’t be moved by guests or blown over by the wind.

Please note that this article provides basic easy-to-understand guidance of fire safety provisions and the key fire safety information required to comply with legislation. Our articles are reviewed regularly. However, any changes made to standards or legislation following the review date will not have been considered. We aim to assist you to understand the fire-related terms within your Fire Risk Assessment.  It does not provide detailed technical guidance on all fire safety provisions, and you might require further advice or need to consult the full standards and legislation.

Please take a moment to have a look around our website where you will find related articles and guides to all the services we can provide your business with, from providing Fire Risk Assessments, Fire Safety Training,  Advisory Services to Articles on Fire Safety Provisions and our Top Fire Safety Tips!