A Guide to Holiday Let Health and Safety Requirements
As a holiday let owner you have a duty of care to provide safe accommodation for your guests and minimise the risks from potential hazards. You also have a legal obligation to follow the relevant health and safety regulations when letting your holiday home.
Here we run through the main requirements so you can check you are compliant with health and safety requirements and that your guests are protected.
Fire safety for holiday lets
Fire risk assessment
Identifying and preventing fire risks at your holiday cottage is essential to ensure guests have a safe stay. You must comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (England and Wales) or the Fire Safety Regulations 2006 (Scotland).
- It is a legal requirement to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment to determine what fire hazards you have and how to remove or reduce them. Here is our advice on creating a fire risk assessment with a link to the ‘Do You Have Paying Guests?’ guide. This gives accommodation providers essential advice on complying with fire safety laws and reducing fire risks in their properties.
- There is also this guide for holiday cottage owners in Scotland.
- If you let via an agency, they should also advise you on fire safety.
- In the event of a fire, make sure that your guests are aware of your property’s evacuation plan. You should also provide at least one fire extinguisher and fire blanket at your property.
You should have a smoke alarm on every floor in your holiday home that is used as a living space. Ideally, those that are mains-wired and have a separate battery backup in case there is a power cut. There are also smart devices such as Nest Protect that allow you to monitor your home remotely. Your smartphone will alert you when smoke (or CO) is detected, or the batteries are low.
It’s mandatory for every home in Scotland to have interlinked smoke alarms throughout the home, one smoke alarm installed in the room most frequently used, a smoke alarm on every floor in spaces such as landings and hallways and a heat alarm in the kitchen. The alarms must be mounted on the ceiling, either mains-connected with a backup battery or fitted with a long-life battery.
Part of your changeover checklist should be testing your smoke alarm on the first day of each let to ensure they are in working order.
Fire safety of furniture and furnishings
If you provide self-catering accommodation you need to comply with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988, which cover domestic furniture and furnishings.
All furniture (new and second-hand) that is covered by the regulations must comply with certain safety tests. Most furniture will have a manufacturer’s label on it saying if it meets the requirements.
Having an open fire/log burner in your holiday cottage can increase bookings, but they also come with risks.
Regular cleaning of your chimney or flue can reduce the build-up of soot, clear obstructions such as bird nests and help prevent fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
If you have an open fire or log burner, HETAS recommends having the chimney swept at least twice a year when burning wood and annually if your fire uses smokeless fuels.
Many of your guests may not have ‘real’ fires at home and will therefore have limited knowledge of how to use them safely. Inform your guests how to safely use your fire, including lighting, extinguishing and protecting children. A fireguard should be provided and always used as stray sparks can start a fire or damage carpets or flooring.
Here is some good advice from the Devon and Somerset Fire & Rescue Service on chimney sweeping and operating an open fire/wood burner safely. Print and leave a copy in your guestbook.
Carbon Monoxide is known as the ‘silent killer’. A carbon monoxide detector should be fitted in all rooms that have a carbon-fuelled appliance such as fires, boilers, ovens and heaters.
It’s a good idea to test all alarms on each changeover and provide your paying guests with instructions on how to operate appliances safely.
Here’s a useful resources for carbon monoxide safety.
Gas safety for holiday lets
Having gas appliances in your property comes with associated risks; these include fire, explosion, gas leaks and carbon monoxide poisoning.
As a holiday home owner, you are legally obliged to ensure all appliances, pipework and flues are safely maintained. You are also required to carry out an annual gas safety check by a registered gas safe registered engineer. A record of this safety check must be kept for 2 years.
Also, make sure your guests know where and how to turn the gas off in the event of an emergency.
Guidance on gas safety for holiday let landlords can be viewed here:
Electrical safety for holiday let landlords
Electrical equipment and wires deteriorate over time, and it is important to ensure your guests are safe during their stay.
Holiday let landlords have a duty of care to regularly carry out safety checks to ensure that the electrical appliances and fittings within the property are safe and in good working order.
It’s recommended that you commission a Periodic Inspection Report on the electrical installations at least once every 5 years.
On an annual basis, a suitably qualified NICEIC registered electrician must test equipment and appliances – known as PAT testing. If your property has a swimming pool or hot tub, then these will also need to have an annual check. 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 visual inspections before each let. Look out for damaged cables, loose sockets, frayed wiring, burn marks, hot sockets or plugs, flickering lights or tripping. Any hazards must be removed or repaired immediately. Have a checklist of items to inspect and keep a written record of each visual inspection.
You should also ensure that guests are given operating instructions for all equipment in the holiday home (the welcome folder is a good place).
Since July 2008 it’s been a legal requirement for circuits in new or rewired homes to include a residual current device (RCD) that automatically switches the electricity off if there is a fault. If your holiday home was re-wired or built before this time, then it’s a good idea to have RCD protection fitted onto the circuits in your property.
Here are some useful guides to electrical safety:
- Electrical safety advice for holiday let owners
Swimming pool and hot tub safety
It’s a fact that a swimming pool or hot tub increases bookings but can be hazardous if safety measures aren’t undertaken or if they aren’t adequately maintained.
If your property has a hot tub or swimming pool, you will also need to include them in your risk assessment.
What you can do to reduce swimming pool and hot tub risks:
- Install a fence with a self-locking gate around the pool. The majority of drownings that occur in private pools could be avoided if pools were fenced off.
- Display signage around the pool stating that guests should not dive or run, indicate the depth of the water and that children must be accompanied by an adult.
- Set clear safety guidelines when using the hot tub or pool in your guestbook.
- Provide safety equipment such as a life hook, ring and a ladder/steps to enter the pool.
- A risk assessment should be carried out for guests and anyone working near the pool, such as cleaners.
- Many accidents happen from slips and trips around the pool, a non-slip surface can help prevent this.
- Frequently check the area to ensure there are no cracked tiles or slippery surfaces.
- Keep a record of any pool maintenance.
-The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has a useful guide that is available to download from their website. Managing health and safety in swimming pools.
-You can also read more about swimming pool safety in this blog post.
-The Health and Safety Executive hot tub operation and management guide offers further information on how to control risks and maintain a hot tub. This post explains further with a link to the guidance.
Store cleaning products safely
If you store cleaning products or swimming pool/hot tub chemicals in your holiday home, it’s good practice to complete a COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) assessment. Stored them in a safe place, out of reach of children in a locked cupboard
Oil safety for holiday cottages
Many holiday cottages in secluded locations use heating oil instead of gas. It is recommended that you have your appliances and equipment inspected by an OFTEC Registered Technician in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, which is usually once a year. They can advise on oil safety, such as the storage of oil at your property. You should also inspect the storage tank and supply pipes frequently for any leaks.
Take precautions to prevent slips, trips and falls
Injuries from slips, trips and falls are also common in holiday homes. Anything from slippery floors to rugs and carpets can cause an accident in your holiday rental.
You can minimize the risk of injuries by regularly inspecting floors, rugs, mats and carpets for trip hazards. Slips can occur in the bathroom when the floor is wet, so provide bath mats with non-slip backing. Ensure all staircases are stable with solid handrails and sufficient lighting.
Childproof your holiday home
For young children, everyday items can present a risk. Checking your property for potential hazards and babyproofing takes minimal effort and can prevent accidents.
- Install baby gates at the top and bottom of each staircase and bed guards.
- Put baby-proof catches on your cupboards.
- Put any potentially dangerous items out of reach from small hands.
- If you provide a highchair, make sure it is sturdy and has safety straps.
- Make sure cords for electrical items are out of reach.
- Buy a bin with a secure lid.
- Secure your TV so children can’t pull it on top of themselves.
- If any of your furniture could topple if pulled or climbed on – secure it to a wall.
- If you have a fireplace, move the fire tools out of reach and use a fireguard.
- If table corners are sharp, consider putting corner guards on.
- Put latches and childproof locks on windows to stop children from easily opening them.
- How easy it would be for a child to climb onto a windowsill using furniture?
- Install window blinds that don’t use chains or cords.
- If you have a pond or water feature, fence it off.
- To avoid fingers getting trapped in a door, invest in doorstops or hinge guards.
- Cover sockets with plastic guards.
Managing outdoor risks
- Paths, the driveway, patios, steps and decking should be free of hazards to avoid slips and trips.
- Install automatic outdoor lighting to help highlight entrances, exits, steps and paths.
- If your holiday home has a balcony, make sure that doors can be locked and doors have handles outside as well as inside.
- Balconies should be of sound construction and have the appropriate railings/balustrades in place.
Other holiday let health and safety considerations
- Regularly check indoor and outdoor furniture to see if they are structurally sound.
- Although candles create a cosy ambience, they cause thousands of house fires each year. Use electronic candles instead. They give the same cosy effect as a regular candle, without the danger.
- Provide warnings if there are potential risks such as low ceilings or a sudden drop in levels.
- Glass doors and tables should be fitted with safety glass to the current British/European Safety Standards.
- Remove the lint from tumble dryers as this is a potential fire hazard.
- Your guestbook should include emergency phone numbers to call in case of an accident.
Weigh up the pros and cons before you:
Provide a trampoline
Whilst bouncing up and down will provide plenty of fun for your guests, trampoline injuries explain 50 per cent of admissions to emergency departments in children under 14 in the UK.
Although the risks can be reduced with safety precautions such as nets and padding, we recommend you don’t supply a trampoline. The potential personal injury claim simply isn’t worth it.
Let guests use your canoe/kayak
Although you may get much enjoyment from using your kayak or canoe at your waterside holiday home, letting guests use them opens a can of worms. How do you know if your guests are competent and that equipment will always be safe? Direct guests to a local water sports hire company instead.
The same applies to mountain bikes
If you’re providing bikes for your guests, then you’ll need to ensure they’re inspected and maintained after each use and are in full working order. Unless you live on-site and are a competent bicycle mechanic, this will be difficult.
Again, point guests towards local cycle hire companies and provide a secure space for those guests who wish to bring their own bikes. Bike-friendly doesn’t mean you have to supply bikes, just the facilities to store, clean and useful information on local trails.
Before you do any of the above or add any amenities that could present a risk (e.g. a swimming pool or hot tub), you must check with your holiday let insurance provider if your public liability insurance covers you.
Speak to your insurer
Although following health and safety rules and regulations will help mitigate risks in your holiday home, there is still no guarantee that an accident won’t take place. And regardless of how many signs you put up or what your booking conditions state, you could still be held liable for any injuries if they occur due to your negligence.
For complete peace of mind that you and your property are protected should anything happen, you’ll need holiday letting insurance.
If you have any employees e.g. a cleaner or maintenance staff, you are responsible for ensuring (so far as is reasonably possible) their health, safety and welfare. It’s also a legal requirement to have employers’ liability insurance.
Have an action plan
Do your guests know what to do if something goes wrong?
Provide guests with emergency numbers so they can contact you in case of an emergency (like a burst pipe or power cut). This not only helps in moments of panic, but it also assures guests that you take their safety seriously and helps minimise damage.
Your handbook should also have clear instructions on where they can turn the gas, electricity and water off should they ever need to. Also, provide guests with any relevant information, warnings, and instructions for operating appliances and leave a first aid kit in a prominent place.
It’s inevitable that at some point the unforeseen will happen when holiday letting. For those holiday let landlords who cut corners when it comes to property maintenance, guest safety and holiday letting insurance – the consequences can prove extremely costly.
It is vital that you, your housekeeper and letting agent follow the relevant legislation, take precautions and remain vigilant to potential safety risks in your holiday cottage. You have a duty of care to your guests.
If an incident occurs, if for example a guest falls down stairs, it’s likely that proof of negligence would be necessary to make a successful claim. It would have to be proved that the holiday property owner was aware of a potential danger and had done nothing to remedy it. Therefore, if there is a potential hazard, rectify it immediately.
This article aims to provide some guidance and links to useful resources that relate to holiday let health and safety legislation. However, treat this article as a starting point to conduct your own research rather than professional advice. If you are in any doubt, you should consult an expert.
- Official health and safety information and guidance can be found on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website.
- To keep updated and for further advice read the Pink Book guide to legislation relevant to accommodation providers from VisitEngland.
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We recently stayed in an Eco lodge. The temperature was between 30 and 35 degrees for a majority of the time. The windows that opened were full length and could not, therefore, be left open through the night. Consequently, there was no flow of air and it was unbearable – some people from other lodges went home. We bought a fan as the site supervisor said they could not purchase any. Should there be fans, windows that can be opened at night or air conditioning in such buildings given the way in which they are designed to retain the heat?
Thank you for your comment. You didn’t mention where the lodge was – UK or abroad? I should imagine that after the complaints the lodge owner will now have a supply of fans/mobile A/C units available should this happen again in the future.
Hi can you Help?
Booked holiday let only to find on arrival toilet block
and toilet extractor pipe not fitted or working. Reported
faults, examination revealed 18ins roots in waste pipe,
obviously blocking was not a recent thing. Hosts husband
advised we found other accommodation (which was a necessity
as I have Cancer)and a full refund would be given. Now 2 days
later when some repairs had been done a refund has been refused.
Is there anything about putting something ‘ not fit for purpose’ on
the market which is unhealthy and unsanitary against the law.
Hi, this post on how to complain should help https://www.schofields.ltd.uk/blog/3459/holiday-cottage-complaint/
The holiday apartment we are staying in is on 3 floors there isn’t a fire blanket,or extinguishers only 1 smoke alarm
No electrical goods have been pat tested,There is no torch so if electric runs out you wouldn’t see to get down he numerous stairs.the electric key is up really high but there is nothing safe to stand on,im sure this can’t be correct
Have you reported all of this to the owner/booking agent?
Hope you can help. My son is staying in a holiday let cottage. It is on the owners land along with other cottages which are renovated farm buildings. When my son was walking to his car he skipoed over on ice and has a badly sprained ankle.
Are we in a position to ask for compensation As the parking areas were not gritted.
This has affected my son from enjoying his holiday and he will be unable to return home when he is supposed to as he can’t drive.
Hi, report the incident to the owners who should then inform their insurers who will deal with any personal injury claim.
My partner and my self have just returned from a 4 night stay at a hotel on lochard, in as they quote a luxury self catering apartment , the weather was quite inclement but nothing new to that part of the British Isles,on arrival it became apparent that the accommodation was very cold indeed and the woo fully inadequate and antiquated electric heaters where unable to provide anything like a comfortable temperature of around 12 to 16 degrees C infact the main bathroom was so cold we couldn’t shower and using the loo in the middle of the night was a painful process. When questioned the staff where very apologetic and explained this was a very common complaint and would I please complain strongly as they felt that the upper management refused to address the issue . May I ask is there a minimum temperature that should be achieve able by law .
You would have to ask a lawyer. This is what the HSE has to say with regards to the workplace, but say it’s not absolute legal requirement: http://www.hse.gov.uk/temperature/law.htm
The Approved Code of Practice suggests the minimum temperature in a workplace should normally be at least 16 degrees Celsius. Have you looked at our post on how to complain about accommodation? https://www.schofields.ltd.uk/blog/3459/holiday-cottage-complaint/
We stayed in a Cornish cliff chalet. The owner supplied a barrow to transport luggage and shopping. Unfortunately the barrow had no brakes or braking mechanism the only way to stop the barrow was to lower the one handle and a long spike then dug into the ground. As the chalet was down a very long steep path gradient brakes was vital unfortunately not on this barrow.
I had a accident on first visit down the hill with barrow, which sent me falling and caused me to end our paid holiday after one night.
The holiday letting agent says the owner is responsible. The owner just gives me he’s insurance company details who say if I file a claim at county court they will counter sue for thousands what should I do???
The owner should forward details to their insurance company who should deal with any subsequent claim.
Are there specifican rules regarding child safety for holiday let landlords. Specific to stair banisters, blinds,
Do internal door locks such as those on bathroom doors have to be child proof so they can be opened from the outside if a child locks themselves in?
That would be a sensible idea.
With regard to fire safety, should there be candles available for guests to use in self catering accommodation?
Led ones are just as effective and safer.
This post might be useful: https://www.schofields.ltd.uk/blog/2541/fire-risk-assessments-for-holiday-lets/
I own a holiday let. Is there any statutary guidance on whether a first aid kit should be supplied, and what would be defined as such, i.e. what the contents should be? For example would pain killers be included? Anti histamine cream? Scissors?
I have been wary of supplying a first aid kit as many items could be harmful if misused.
A first aid kit such as these from St John Ambulance would be useful https://www.sja.org.uk/first-aid-supplies/first-aid-kits/first-aid-kits-for-home-and-leisure/
Many thanks for the recommendation (St John’s Ambulance kit).
Any thoughts on the liability issue? For example:
– The St John’s kit contains no anti-histamine cream. If a guest has a bite which they react badly to
– The housekeeping team between guests fails to notice the bandage has been used, and a bandage is needed by a subsequent guest to dress a wound
In these instances I am concerned there is a potential liability on the grounds that I have supplied an inadequate first aid kit.
The alternative as I see it is to be explicit to guests that no first aid kit is supplied and that they are responsible for any provision they feel is necessary, much as they would be expected to bring their own supplies of e.g. painkiller
Thanks again for your advice