With the upsurge of sites like Airbnb and Booking.com in recent years, more and more private individuals are looking to let out their homes on an ad hoc basis to holiday makers. It’s a great way to make some extra cash and supplement income.
What many don’t often understand, however, is that there are certain fire safety requirements that need to be complied with. These regulations apply even if you are only offering short term lets once in a while.
Fire Safety for Holiday Lets
According to a recent parliamentary investigation, while hotels and formal holiday lets are governed by strict fire safety regulations many private individuals that use sites like AirBNB to rent out their home while they are away or have a spare room, are generally not compliant. The vast majority are not even known to local fire departments or councils because they aren’t registered as businesses.
If you want to keep guests safe when they stay at your property, here’s a quick guide in what you legal responsibilities are.
Are You Complying With the Law?
First, you have a legal responsibility to comply with fire safety law if you are hiring out your property for short-term lets. The key piece of legislation here is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order which puts the responsibility on you to ensure your guests remain safe while staying at your property.
The Fire Safety Order means is designed to ensure you put in measures that keep people staying at your home, caravan, flat or other property safe from harm. Irrespective of the moral argument, this is a legal duty which could lead to prosecution (and possibly imprisonment) if you are found to be negligent and not have the right equipment and processes in place.
Essentially, your Airbnb let is treated as a business when it comes to fire regulations. The law applies whether you are only letting out your property every so often or on a regular basis.
What You Need to Do
The first thing you should get done is conduct a Fire Risk Assessment. This evaluates your property and highlights any areas where your guests may be at risk if a fire breaks out and informs you want measures you need to put in place. This will cover areas of fire safety such as:
- Escape routes: If a fire breaks out, how will your guests exit the property safely?
- What fire alarms and warning systems do you have in place?
- What firefighting equipment do you have and where is it situated?
- How do you manage the storage or removal of materials that could be a fire hazard?
- Do you have a fire evacuation plan and where is information about this is placed?
- How will you handle the safety of vulnerable people? For example, if you have elderly or disabled people staying at your property, what measures are there in place to give them extra time to evacuate.
Once the assessment is produced, you need to act on any recommendations and have them implemented for your property. This might mean, for example, putting in more fire safety measures or posting information on what to do in the event of a fire. For many, it will certainly require installing fire fighting equipment.
For most people, short-term letting is seen as a way of getting a little extra cash. What many don’t take into account is their responsibility under the law.
Because you are allowing paying guests to stay at their property, you need to comply with the current fire safety regulations. If you haven’t yet had an assessment, now is the time to do so.
FTS Safety Solutions can help in all aspects of the above article, from Fire Risk Assessments, to supplying and commissioning fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, signage and any other requirement highlighted by the assessment. Call us on 0330 6600264 or email us [email protected]
Until next time… stay safe