If you’re new to letting out a cottage or any other type of self-catering property, there are a number of legal obligations and other requirements which you must undertake to ensure your holiday property complies with the law, and ensures guests safety and comfort at all times.
We’ve put together a handy guide on the various aspects you need to consider.*
Holiday Cottages – Legal Requirements
- Planning Permission
If you are offering the property as a holiday let for the first time, planning permission for change of use may be required. This is usually a formality but it’s worth checking with your local planning authority first. If your property is within a larger apartment block or building then you should ensure there are no covenants on the building which would restrict a holiday let.
- Council Tax & Business Rates
If your holiday let is available for more than 140 days in the year then it must be registered for Business Rates rather than Council Tax.
- Fire Risk Assessment & Fire Detection Equipment
It is now a legal requirement for the owner of a holiday cottage to arrange for a Fire Risk Assessment on the property which identifies sources of ignition, flammable materials, location of the fire extinguisher etc. This can be carried out by the owner and you can find advice and templates online: https://www.gov.uk/workplace-fire-safety-your-responsibilities/ A copy should be left in the property and a separate copy kept off site. The property must also be adequately prepared in the event of a fire. A fire blanket must be mounted on the kitchen wall near the cooker in the kitchen and a CO2 fire extinguisher must also be wall mounted in the kitchen and a foam or water extinguisher mounted on the wall near the entrance or hallway. Both must be checked annually. Holiday cottage owners must also ensure that a smoke alarm is equipped on each storey of the premises on which there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation. A living room will include a lounge dining room and kitchen as well as a bathroom or toilet. It also includes a hall or landing. This means that a smoke alarm must be provided in working order on each storey. A torch should also be provided in each room.
- Electrical & Gas Safety
An annual Gas Safety Certificate is required from a fully qualified gas engineer who has a valid Gas Safe Certificate. It is recommended that you also have PAT (Portable Appliance Test) testing for small electrical devices on a regular basis. From 1st Oct 2015 it is also now legally required to have working Carbon Monoxide Detectors installed in all residential rented property. Additionally, holiday cottage Owners must ensure that there is a carbon monoxide alarm fitted in any room that is used partly or wholly as living accommodation which also contains any appliance which burns, or is capable of burning, solid fuel. This would include log and coal burning stoves and open fires, even if they are not normally in use, but does not include gas and oil boilers. If an open fireplace is purely decorative and not useable then it is not covered by the regulations.
- Holiday Home Insurance
It is recommended you take out holiday home insurance from a specialist provider and that your policy is designed specifically for the purpose of providing holiday lets. Check the small print carefully and make sure you are insured for all aspects of holiday letting, including public liability insurance and damage caused by guests.
- First Aid
A First Aid kit is recommended and should be checked regularly to ensure it is fully stocked.
- Access Statement
All accommodation providers are obliged to provide Guests on demand with an Access Statement. This Statement is intended to provide a clear, accurate and above all honest description of the accommodation, current facilities and the services on offer which can be provided to Guests on request before their arrival. This allows potential visitors to make an informed decision as to whether the property and services meet their needs.
All shower heads must be chlorinated quarterly to prevent legionella disease. Stop cocks must be clearly identified.
- Fabrics and Soft furnishings
All fabrics and soft furnishings must be fire-retardant and approved to current British standards.
- Evacuation Procedure
A notice advising guests of the emergency evacuation procedures should also be clearly displayed as well as information on how to raise the alarm to the rest of the occupants should a fire be discovered [e.g. how to set off the fire alarm]
- Access Statement
An Access Statement should be created for your property which provides accurate and detailed information on the facilities and services within and around it, specifically in relation to accessibility. This is of particular importance to people with access needs (older people, disabled people etc.). The Access Statement should be left in the property but should also be available to send to a guest in advance of their arrival.Many people need this information to help them decide if your property is suitable for them or not.
You can find more advice for Cottage Owners here.
*Legislation changes all the time, and so its important that you keep abreast of any changes and act accordingly. Please note this does not constitute legal advice and you should seek professional guidance from your local authority and other regulatory bodies to ensure you are adhering to all current legislation.