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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.

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

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

1. Holiday let health and safety
2. Fire safety
3. Gas safety
4. Electrical safety
5. Hot tub and swimming pool regulations
6. Licensing
7. Holiday let insurance and mortgage
8. Planning permission
9. Council tax and business rates
10.Financial responsibilities

What legislation applies to me as a holiday let owner?

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 some guidance and links to useful resources for owners who are researching legislation for UK holiday homes. This it is not an exhaustive list and rules and regulations are frequently updated.

1. Holiday let general health and safety

As a conscientious owner, you will want to make certain that your guests enjoy a safe environment. Effective management of general 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.

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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 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.

2. Fire safety

Fire safety matters and 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 not only protect the lives of your family and any guests, but also your property and your holiday let business.

Practical management of fire safety with good processes and control measures is essential to ensure fire prevention, and 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.

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Fire risk assessment

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 and cause 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 and to leave clear instructions for your guest 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

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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.

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.

3. Gas safety

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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 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

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.

4. Electrical safety

As a holiday let owner, you have a duty of care 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.

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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 by taking a proactive approach and having 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.

5. Hot tub and swimming pool regulations for holiday lets

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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 for including 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 safe guard 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.

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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.

6. TV licensing

Most of us are already familiar with the need for a license in order to watch live TV or stream programmes in our homes, but you may not be aware that as an owner of a holiday let, you need to apply for a Hotel and Mobile Units Television Licence (hotel licence). It’s also important to remember that a license is needed regardless of how the programmes are being viewed. These include devices such as computers, mobile phones or tablets.

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7. Holiday let insurance and mortgage consent

Holiday let insurance is a specialist form of cover that all holiday let properties require. A holiday cottage must have adequate insurance to cover the building and contents against damage, accidents and loss of earnings. Having public liability with a £2,000,000 level of cover is essential. It’s recommended that you take out a policy that is designed specifically for your property from a holiday let insurance specialist, as this form of cover safeguards you from many of the areas that a normal home insurance policy generally won’t.

It is also worth mentioning that if you have a mortgage on the property you will require permission from your mortgage lender to commercially let your holiday home to guests. Reason for this is that 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.

8. Planning permission

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.

You should however contact the planning department of your local authority for advice on planning permission if you are considering a new business, or converting or extending your premises.

9. Council tax and business rates

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, which 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.

10. 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 ensure that you are not only paying the correct tax, but also making the most of the allowances that the government gives.

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

Making sure you understand the relevant holiday let rules and regulations surrounding holiday homes may not seem exciting, but it is important. 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.

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 to guest accommodation providers that gives an overview of your legal obligations.

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At Coast & Country Cottages, we offer our South Devon holiday home owners bespoke levels of property management service, to help offer you advice and support on the hands-on side of running a holiday home. 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:

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* 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.