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Holiday Cottage Fire Risk Assessment Guide

Reading Time: 5 minutes

As a holiday cottage owner, it’s your responsibility to recognise, remove or reduce fire risks at your accommodation and to ensure your property is safe for guests and visitors.

If you’re new to holiday letting and haven’t already completed a fire risk assessment it can be difficult to know where to start. We have created this guide to help you identify fire risks and the protection measures you should put in place to reduce fire risks and keep your guests and staff safe.

The law and guidance may change and the information below is only a guide. It’s essential that you comply with the relevant legislation that applies to your individual property.

Is a holiday cottage fire risk assessment a legal requirement?

As a holiday let owner or responsible person, you have a duty to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety Order) 2005. The law requires you to undertake a written fire risk assessment to identify potential fire risks, act on the findings and ensure that fire precautions comply with legislation.

In England and Wales from 1 October 2023 the rules are changing, are statutory and must be followed, so it’s essential that you conform. See the links below for further information.

Failure to act may lead to prosecution

Breaches of fire safety law may lead to enforcement action, prosecution, fines and/or imprisonment. The Home Office has issued a guide of the sanctions that are available to Enforcing Authorities if you fail to comply with fire legislation.

Airbnb landlord fined £33,000 for serious fire safety failures
An Airbnb landlord has been ordered to pay almost £33,000 in fines and costs after he put dozens of guests at risk from fire in a luxury holiday let.

Holiday let owner fined for breaching fire laws
Following a complaint from a guest staying at the property, the holiday let owner was fined nearly £4,000 for four offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

How to write a fire risk assessment for your holiday cottage

You can conduct your own fire risk assessment, or you can outsource it to a fire risk assessor. It should be available for inspection by your local fire service and be reviewed regularly.

What is a fire risk assessment?

A fire risk assessment is a comprehensive review of:

  • Fire hazards within your holiday home
  • The people at risk
  • Fire safety measures to reduce the risk of a fire
  • How guests can escape unharmed in the event of a fire

Identify fire hazards in your holiday let

Identify situations in your holiday home in which a fire could start. The most common causes of fires include kitchens (cooking), electrical appliances (overloaded or faulty appliances) and open fires/log burners (misuse).

Who’s at risk?

Consider the specific risks different guests face. For example, young children could be tempted to touch a log burner/open fire. Consider guests with disabilities such as restricted mobility, visual or hearing impairment.

How will you keep guests safe?

Actions you can implement to help prevent a fire and keep guests safe if there is a fire:

  • Remove hazards and take actions to reduce the risk
  • Interlinked mains smoke alarms
  • Heat detectors in kitchens
  • Carbon monoxide detectors
  • Night lights provided on staircases or rechargeable torches left in rooms
  • Fire blanket and appropriate fire extinguishers on each floor
  • Final exit doors should not require a key to open from inside
  • Escape route fire doors should provide at least 30 minutes fire resistance
  • Internal self-closing fire doors
  • Remove window lock keys
  • Remove candles
  • Maintain chimneys and wood burners
  • Furniture and furnishings that meet British standards

Inform guests about fire risks

Your completed fire risk assessment should be placed in a prominent place in the property for guests to read, ideally in the guestbook. It is there to help prevent fires during their stay and ensure that they are clear about what to do if they discover a fire or hear the alarm.

Provide detailed instructions about:

  • The emergency fire escape plan which gives instructions about what to do and where to go in the event of a fire
  • Where the fire blankets and fire extinguishers are
  • Where the exit points are
  • The address for the fire and rescue service
  • The fire risks in the property and user instructions (e.g. appliances, smoking policy, log burner/barbecue safety, no candles)
  • Carbon monoxide advice

Maintaining your fire risk assessment

You should keep evidence of all testing, maintenance and any actions you have put in place to minimise the risk. These should be communicated to anyone who is involved in running your holiday let e.g. your housekeeper or property manager.

Review your risk assessment at least annually or if there has been a significant change, such as changing the layout of the property or if a potential risk (e.g. a firepit) has been added.

Ensure that all fire safety provisions are adequately maintained

Make sure all fire safety provisions are adequate and regularly maintained. This includes fire alarms, gas appliances, electrical appliances and any emergency lighting systems.

Changeover checks

During changeover, safety tests and inspections should take place to ensure that a fire hazard hasn’t developed during the let.

  • Test smoke alarms are working
  • Check fire extinguisher pressure dials are correct
  • Inspect wires on all appliances for damage and remove the appliance if damaged
  • Remove candles, matches, lighters etc. from the property (unless they are required for the log burner) and safely store them away from children
  • Test carbon monoxide monitors
  • Check fire doors
  • Check for exit route obstructions
  • Keep a log of all checks and maintenance

Fire risk assessment template and guides for holiday home owners

Every cottage will have its unique risks, but these examples and guides should help with your fire risk assessment.

Fire risk assessment templates:

VisitBritain – Fire Risk Assessment Tool
Government’s guide on complying with fire safety law: ‘Do you have paying guests?’ (see example risk assessment form page 10).
PASC FRA template

Useful guides and resources:

Useful guidance for accommodation providers outlining their obligations with regards to fire safety. The law and guidance may change in the future, therefore it is essential that you read the latest guidance that applies to your specific property.

A guide to making your small paying-guest-accommodation safe from fire – for small holiday lets, no more than two storeys, and less than ten beds, with a simple layout in England.
A guide to making your guest accommodation safe from fire – published by the Welsh government for small accommodation.
For larger or more complex accommodation in England or Wales  – This document is from 2006, an update is expected.
Fire safety – existing premises with sleeping accommodation: practical guidance – for property located in Scotland.
Professional Association of Self-Caterers UK (PASC UK) – The PASC website is an excellent resource on complying with Fire Safety.

Fire and rescue service advice

Many local fire and rescue services offer advice and support for holiday cottages.

Here is a list of regional UK Fire and Rescue Services to contact. 

How to find a fire risk assessor

If you do not feel confident undertaking the fire risk assessment yourself, or your property is complex from a fire safety perspective, you can hire a fire risk assessor to complete an FRA for you.

Here are links to find accredited assessors:


Get insured

From experience, we know fire can have a devastating impact. A policy from Schofields is there to help you when you need it. Providing cover for damage, loss of rental income and alternative accommodation. Get a quote or contact us to discuss or comprehensive cover.

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  • Rhona Grant |

    Why does the Fire Safety template on your website have the heading Visit England. As some Scottish Laws differ from England where does this legally relate to Holiday Lets in Scotland. I insure my Holiday Let in Scotland through Schofields and I would expect Visit Scotland to be included unless of course this Download does not apply to Scottish Lets?
    Rhona Grant

    • Philip |

      Hi Rhona, see the useful links and advice section for Scotland.

  • Elizabeth |

    How does the keyless approach to external doors (and the locking mechanisms for windows) square with the security requirements of the insurance policy? I understood that a Yale lock by itself is not adequate security and a 5 lever mortice lock is required – but surely they come with keys? Grateful for advice on what insurance policies require for security that can also meet the fire safety requirements.

    • Philip |

      As every insurer is likely to have different requirements, it’s worth checking with your individual insurer.

  • Rick Hewitt |

    We own a 250 year old granite built small roomed 2 bedroom very small cottage in Cornwall with old pine internal doors that we let out as a holiday let.
    Mostly we comply and certainly will before any new guests stay but I’m trying to understand what we have to do with the internal doors and what type of door is fire resistant. All internal doors on old and new properties contain wood and I suspect would not survive 30 mins should a fire start.
    Does this mean that we all have to have metal doors fitted throughout. This will completely take away the aesthetics of the old cottage and give it a utilitarian feel.
    Could you advise further?
    Many thanks

    • Philip |

      I’d suggest you visit the excellent PASC resources as mentioned in this article.

  • Sarah Elliott |

    Thank you for the templates. I’ve done a fair amount of research for my Airbnb and should complete all necessary surveys and checks before I open for this coming season. The Visit England template was very easy to complete. I also added the extinguisher instructions and advice on using a fire blanket. Thanks again.

  • Shaun |

    How do you possibly balance the real world opposing safety requirements of low wide opening windows on first floor apartments? If they don’t have opening restrictors the risk of small children falling out is far more likely than the need to have non keyed window escapes due to fire.

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