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Holiday let rules and regulations

All self-catering holiday homes are subject to specific holiday let rules and regulations. As an owner, it’s imperative to know and understand the legal requirements for letting your holiday property.

As a Furnished Holiday Let owner, there are rules and regulations affecting holiday rental properties 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. While at first, they may seem challenging and complicated, once you understand and put them into effect, making a success of your holiday let can be straightforward and rewarding.

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

Your guide to holiday let rules and regulations

Looking for something specific? Use our quick links below or read on for our comprehensive guide on holiday let rules and regulations.

Different legal requirements of a long-term rental and a holiday let

The best place to start is understanding the difference between a long-term rental and a short-term holiday let. While the legislation between the two is similar, there are a few key differences.

A long-term let is classed as a property rented out for a minimum of six to twelve months at a time. A property let for this period is controlled by various specific regulations and is considered relatively low risk in comparison to short-term holiday lets.

A short-term holiday let is a property that is let out to holidaymakers for brief time periods. The property is furnished and is rented out from a few nights up to a number of weeks. Holiday let owners are expected to provide fully furnished, well-equipped, overnight accommodation and adequate services in a property.

It is this distinction which dictates the difference in legal requirements between the two types of letting.

Understanding the legal requirements for letting a holiday property

Holiday let rules and regulations

Running a holiday let business is no simple endeavour but it is crucial to know your legal obligations. These rules and regulations can’t be overlooked and while they may seem daunting, they are relatively easy to adhere to.

Below, we’ve highlighted certain areas of holiday let rules and regulations and provided guidance and links to useful resources for owners who are researching legislation for UK holiday homes. This it is not an exhaustive list and it’s important to understand that legal requirements are frequently updated. It’s important to keep abreast of any changes and consult the relevant experts if in doubt about a particular area.

Furnished Holiday Let rules

The key rules and regulations that apply in order to qualify for Furnished Holiday Let tax are:

  • Your holiday let must be actively promoted and let commercially, with the intent of making a profit.
  • Your property must be available for commercial holiday letting to guests and holiday makers for at least 210 days (30 weeks) per year.
  • If your Furnished Holiday Let is rented out by the same person for more than 31 days, there shouldn’t be more than 155 days (+22 weeks) of this type of ‘long term’ occupation per year.
  • Your property must be rented out as holiday accommodation to the general public for a minimum of 105 days (15 weeks) out of the 210 days you have made it available. The time you or your family use the property doesn’t get counted towards this total.
  • Your property needs to be adequately furnished and equipped to qualify as a Furnished Holiday Let.

For more information on this topic, read our comprehensive guide to Furnished Holiday Let tax.

Planning permission for holiday lets

planning permission for holiday homes

Letting your existing holiday property does not require planning permission since there is no change of use. But it’s worthwhile checking that there are no clauses regarding commercial letting in your lease or conveyancing agreement.

If you are thinking of letting your holiday home for the first time or converting part of the property to cater for short-term letting, you will need to contact the planning department of your local authority for advice on planning permission.

Read more about holiday let planning permission for in-depth guidance on the subject.

Holiday let insurance

Holiday let insurance is a specialist form of cover that is required for holiday let properties. It is often a requirement of mortgage lenders that you have specific covers in place to finance your property. Read on to find out more.

Holiday let building and contents cover

Having insurance is meant to protect you and your holiday let, so it is vital to know what it should cover and that you have the right policy in place. It’s important to note that your holiday cottage must have adequate building and contents insurance. This is to cover against damage, accidents, and loss of earnings.

Public liability insurance for holiday lets

Public liability insurance for a holiday letting business is essential. Without it, you could potentially be exposing yourself legally and financially if your guests are injured.

Having public liability cover for £2 million is essential. It enables you to safeguard yourself from legal hassles and compensation claims in the event someone slips, trips, or has an accident.

Employers’ liability insurance

If you employ any individual in your holiday home, it is a legal requirement to have employers’ liability insurance. It covers you if an employee has an accident and claims for injuries. The minimum legal requirement for employers’ liability insurance is £5 million, but a lot of insurers provide cover of £10 million as standard.

It’s recommended that you take out a policy that is designed specifically for your property. A holiday let insurance safeguards you from many areas that a normal home insurance policy wouldn’t.

Holiday let mortgages

Owning a holiday cottage where the intention is to use it for yourself, family and friends. But also let it out to guests/tourists for a profit during the remaining weeks of the year means that you will require a holiday let mortgage.

It is worth mentioning most residential mortgage lenders don’t permit short-term lettings. If you have a mortgage on the property, you will require permission from your mortgage lender to commercially let your holiday home to guests. The reason for this is, permission may not always be granted or may come at a higher rate of interest.

Read our blog on holiday let mortgages for further detailed information.

Council tax and business rates for holiday lets

Rates and taxes on a holiday let differ from a residential property. If your holiday home is available to rent for 20 weeks (140 days) or more in a year, then you should be registered for business rates property tax rather than council tax.

But don’t despair if you qualify as a Furnished Holiday Let, you may be able to claim Small Business Rate relief. This will reduce the amount of council tax you will have to pay.

Visit the HMRC HS252 help guide for more information or read our blog on holiday let business rates and council tax.

Financial responsibilities

As with any business, it is compulsory to keep accurate documentation and accounts which record income and expenditure for tax purposes. You must declare all earnings from your holiday let business when filing your annual return to HMRC.

Understanding the tax rules and allowances is important to ensure your finances are all correct and that you are legally compliant with the government tax system. Using the services of a professional accountant or bookkeeper to manage your finances ensures that you are paying the correct tax as well as making the most of the allowances that the government provides.

Read our Furnished Holiday Let Tax guide or visit the HMRC HS253 guide for further advice.

Holiday let health and safety

View from holiday home

As a conscientious owner, you will want to make certain that your guests enjoy a safe environment. Effective management of general holiday let health and safety is important not only for the security and well-being of you and your guests, but also to reduce your liability in the event of an accident.

For more details on the main health and safety requirements when letting out your holiday home read our ‘Owner Property Safety Guidance’.

Risk assessment for holiday lets

You want your guests to enjoy their time in your holiday let property, and for them to feel safe and comfortable. Doing a general risk assessment around the property will highlight any potential issues, both inside and outside your holiday home. Use common sense to identify potential areas of risk. These could include:

  • Providing handrails on stairs and make sure they are secure
  • All access paths to the property are clear
  • Identify any potential trip or slip hazards inside as well as outside the property
  • If your property is child friendly, it’s advisable to provide safeguards such as stair gates and child proof locks for cupboards and drawers
  • Warnings on low ceilings
  • In the event of an accident or emergency ensure that you provide a list of emergency numbers to call and procedures to follow should anything go wrong. This includes instructions on how to shut off gas, electric and water if needed.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is a UK government agency. They are responsible for the encouragement, regulation and enforcement of health, safety and welfare in order to safeguard individuals from potential risks. There is plenty of information available on their website to help you comply with practical health and safety responsibilities.

Read the HSE guidance on simple health and safety for practical resources and further information.

Fire regulations for holiday lets

fire regulations for holiday lets

Fire safety matters. Taking care to understand the risk that fire represents in your property enables you to consider and implement the right fire safety arrangements. This will protect the lives of your family, guests, your property and your holiday let business.

Practical management of fire safety with good processes and control measures is essential to ensure fire prevention. If a fire does occur it can be controlled or contained effectively allowing people to escape to safety. Most fires are preventable and as long as you can demonstrate that your fire safety management steps meet the HSE fire safety recommendations, they are likely to be acceptable.

Fire risk assessment for holiday lets

A fire risk assessment should be the foundation for all fire prevention at your holiday property. A fire risk assessment is an organised review of your holiday cottage, the activities carried out, and the prospect that a fire could start causing harm to those in and around the premises.

Conducting and implementing a thorough fire risk assessment can save lives. Not only is it a legal requirement of all holiday home owners, it ensures that you provide a duty of care to keep your guests safe.

You should also consider installing other fire safety measures such as emergency lighting, fire extinguishers and a fire blanket, all of which require regular checks and testing.

If you have an open fire or log burner, it is best practice and often a requirement of insurance to have the chimney swept once a year. Be sure to leave clear instructions for your guests on how to safely use the fire.

When holiday letting with Coast & Country Cottages, as part of our agency managed service we will organise a fire risk assessment on your behalf.

Visit the HMRC website for guidance about completing a fire risk assessment.

Download your fire safety assessment template from VisitEngland here.

Smoke detectors

All premises used as self-catering holiday lets require an interlinked automatic detection and fire warning system. These must be tested regularly and must be loud enough to wake anyone sleeping in the property.

Fire safety of furniture and fittings

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.

The law requires you to prove that any of the furniture and fittings supplied in the property comply with the standards set out in the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988.

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 cottage, the regulations apply to every upholstered item in the property, and it is required that they are suitably labelled.

Gas safety regulations

Gas safety regulations

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, 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 to ensure that appliances, their fittings, flues and chimney are maintained too.

As a holiday let owner, you need to keep up to date on the latest gas safety regulations and the required checks that need to be done on 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.

Carbon monoxide warning system

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

Holiday let electrical regulations

kitchen in holiday home - electrical safety regulations

As a holiday let owner, you are required by law to ensure that all electrical appliances, circuits and fixed installations within your property are safe. All electrical supplies and wiring should be checked for safety and any electrical appliances (washing machine, TV’s, toasters) must be safe to use.

Faulty electrics can result in serious injury, death or fire. If you fail to maintain electrical installations and appliances you could be accountable.

While there is no legal requirement to obtain and renew an electrical safety certificate, it is worthwhile showing that you are complying with electrical safety requirements.  Take a proactive approach and have a qualified electrician ensure the electrical items are safe by PAT (portable appliance testing) them.

Read our guide on everything you need to know about electrical safety regulations for holiday lets.

Hot tub and swimming pool regulations for holiday lets

holiday home with swimming pool

Holiday home luxuries like hot tubs and swimming pools are often a big attraction for holidaymakers and can make a property more appealing. However, if you opt to include these added extras, it is important to make sure that they are well maintained and safe to use.

  • A hot tub is a desirable addition to your holiday home but requires a lot of maintenance to ensure it doesn’t pose a health and safety risk. It is important to understand the guidance on operating and maintaining hot tubs to make them safe and enjoyable for guests. The HSE guidance on spa pools offers advice on effective ways to safely manage and control systems through various testing, inspections, operation and maintenance. For detailed information, read our hot tub guide for holiday lets.
  • If you have a swimming pool at your holiday home, you should take all reasonable precautions to prevent injury and protect guests. You need to ensure that you take the necessary precautions to safeguard individuals and prevent accidents. Failure to do so could lead to a serious injury or incident, which will then raise the question as to whether your negligence was the cause of the accident.

Sensible health and safety around swimming pools is about managing risk. Use common sense in trying to prevent accidents. Close off the pool area with fencing, put up safety signs and inform your guests of ‘pool rules’ for their own well-being.

Here is some useful guidance from the HSE on managing health and safety in swimming pools.

TV, DVD and music licences in holiday lets

cinema room - TV license for holiday lets

TV license

If you have a device available in any short-stay accommodation to overnight visitors, where they are able to watch or stream live TV, you will need a TV licence. This applies to any device including a TV, desktop computer, laptop, mobile phone, tablet, games console, digital box or DVD/VHS recorder.

You will need to be covered if:

  • Guests watch or record programmes as they’re being shown on TV, on any channel
  • Guests can watch or stream programmes live on an online TV service (such as ITV Hub, All 4, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV, Sky Go, etc.)
  • They’re able to download or watch any BBC programmes on BBC iPlayer

For holiday lets, you’ll need a special type called a Hotel and Mobile Units Television Licence (hotel licence).

Currently, a single TV licence costing £159 will cover up to 15 accommodation units on a single site. So, if you have holiday cottages in different locations, you’ll need a separate licence for each location. The TV Licensing website tells you more.

You don’t need a TV License if guests are watching:

  • On demand or catch-up programs on services other than BBC iPlayer or
  • watching S4C TV on demand
  • Streaming, renting or buying movies from providers like Sky, Virgin Media, BT TV, Netflix or Amazon

DVD license

You will also need a DVD Concierge license if you provide a DVD film library for your guests. Providing films to paying guests without a licence is an infringement of copyright law (the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988).

The main organisations which issue licences to businesses are Filmbank Media and MPLC. Prices will depend on the size of your accommodation and the length of the licence. If you don’t provide DVDs and guests bring their own, you won’t need a licence.

PPL PRS / Music license

Depending on the size and type of your holiday let, you may also need a copyright licence to play music on a device.

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 states “any use of copyrighted music in public is possible only with the permission of the person who holds the copyright to the music being played”.

This means that you may need something called TheMusicLicence in order to avoid this. You can contact the PPL PRS for advice on your music usage requirements.

The good news is you probably won’t need a licence for music if you only own one holiday let with three bedrooms or less. According to Visit Britain you will be exempt if:

You have a self-catering accommodation with three guest bedrooms or less and:

  • The premises is the only holiday accommodation business that you own or operate
  • The premises is also your domestic residence
  • Facilities are only available to resident guests

Stay up to date with holiday let legislation

Stay up to date with holiday let legislation

Making sure you understand the relevant holiday let rules and regulations may not seem exciting, but it is important. The legislation surrounding holiday lets is there to protect you, your property and your guests. It is essential that you don’t overlook your duty of care to your guests and that you comply with the law.

There are various sources of information that you can use to keep up to date on topics. Referring to the HMRC guidance for renting out a property and the HMRC guidance for private renting will detail the governmental guidance on what you need to comply with and should always be your first point of reference.

Additional advice is available from the national tourism board VisitEngland who have published The Pink Book. A guide for guest accommodation providers that gives an overview of your legal obligations.

Choosing the right holiday letting agency in South Devon

At Coast & Country Cottages, we offer our South Devon holiday home owners bespoke levels of property management service. To find out more about the levels of service we offer, order a copy of our Owners Guide or read our blog holiday home management options.

If you would like to find out more about letting your holiday home, call our experienced team on 01548 843773 (option 2) or visit our Let Your Cottage page to request a free Owners Guide today.

Request your FREE Owners Guide

If you’re looking to start a holiday letting business, the following owner guides may be useful to you:

All property owner blogs

* At the time of publishing, Coast & Country Cottages has taken all reasonable care to ensure that the information contained in this article is accurate. However, no warranty or representation is given that the information is complete or free from errors or inaccuracies. Generic information is contained within this article and each individual’s business affairs are different, so further advice should be sought from an accountant, legal professional or the UK Government.