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How to manage risks in your holiday home and keep your guests safe

16 Apr

If you decide to let out your holiday home to family, friends or the public, it’s rewarding to think that your guests have chosen your space for their travel adventures. However, letting out your property can give rise to multiple risks.

While a suitable insurance policy will help protect your assets and interests, you must follow other laws and legislation at all times, to ensure you remain compliant, stay on the right side of the law and protect your guests.

It goes without saying that your visitors expect to be safe during their stay. Read our guidance for avoiding, or at least mitigating risks in your holiday home below.

Tips for protecting your property and guests

Managing fire risks

  • Carry out a fire risk assessment, ideally on an annual basis, to determine what fire hazards you have and how to remove or reduce them.
  • Smoke alarms should be tested before each letting period to ensure they are working and your property’s entry and exit points should be easy to open, without obstructions.
  • Reduce the risk of a fire by keeping any flammable materials away from heat sources, providing a suitable fireguard if your property has a log burner or open fire and regularly cleaning your chimney if you have one.
  • In case a fire does happen, make sure that your guests are aware of your property’s evacuation plan and have emergency contact numbers. You should also consider providing equipment for putting out small fires.

The legal bit: Your holiday home must comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (England and Wales) or the Fire Safety Regulations 2006 (Scotland).

Managing gas risks

  • It’s vital that a gas safe registered engineer carries out an annual gas safety check.
  • Display your current gas safety record in your property if it’s let out for no more than 28 days at a time, otherwise you will need to provide your guests with a certificate at the beginning of their stay.
  • Keep any past documentation of your gas installations and safety inspections that date back to a minimum of two years.
  • Make sure there are detailed instructions available for gas valves, as well as emergency contact information in case there is a gas leak or explosion.

Managing electrical risks

  • Carry out an electric installation assessment every five years, as well as portable appliance testing (PAT) on any electrical appliances.
  • As well as assessments, it’s important to routinely check your electric fixtures and appliances to ensure they are working.
  • You should have a smoke alarm on each storey of your holiday home and a carbon monoxide alarm in any rooms that have a solid fuel appliance. Check these appliances on the first day of each letting period to ensure they are in working order.
  • You must provide an energy performance certificate (EPC), which summarises your property’s energy efficiency, if it is let out for more than four months within a year.

Managing water risks

  • Before each letting period begins, carry out checks to make sure the water supply is working as it should.
  • Check that basins, shower trays and toilets are free of cracks that could cause a water leak and that showerheads, sinks and bathtubs are free of rust and mould.
  • For your guests’ safety, consider having non-slip floor mats in your bathroom.
  • By law, you are also required to check your holiday home for exposure to legionella.

Managing furniture risks

  • Leave and maintain the labels on your furniture, especially ones with warnings, such as flammable material cautions.
  • If any of your furniture is not fireproof, consider spraying it with fire-prevention sprays.
  • Regularly check your furniture to keep it clean and to see if any repairs are needed, such as broken parts.
  • Avoid buying furniture with sharp corners or glass as they could cause injury and go for wood or solid material furniture with smooth edges instead.
  • Furnish your holiday home with blinds that don’t have hanging or looped cords as they are a strangulation hazard.

The legal bit: Upholstered furniture, beds, mattresses, headboards, pillows and cushions should comply with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988.

Managing outdoor risks

  • Paths, patios and walkways should be maintained, including clearing ice, snow and litter, to avoid slips and trips.
  • Consider installing automatic outdoor lighting to help highlight entrances and exits.
  • If your holiday home has a balcony, make sure that its doors can be locked and have handles outside as well as inside.
  • As well as indoor furniture, any garden furniture should also be regularly checked to make sure it’s in working order.
  • Balcony railings should be above waist-level, reinforced and stable. You should check their stability regularly.
  • Make sure that the glass in your windows and balcony doorframes is secure.
  • When your property is not in use, you should ensure all windows are locked.
  • If your holiday home has a swimming pool, you need to carry out risk assessments for anyone that might go near the pool, such as your guests or maintenance workers. *
  • The area surrounding your pool should have a non-slip surface, signs stating the water depth and that guests should not run or dive, as well as a fence around it with a self-locking gate.
  • You should have pool safety equipment, such as life-saving devices and a ladder to enter the pool, within easy access.
  • For any maintenance work carried out on your pool, keep the documentation. If you have any pool cleaners yourself, make sure they are locked away.

*Please note, this advice also applies to indoor swimming pools.

What should you do next?

Although taking the above actions will help mitigate risks in your holiday home, there is still no guarantee that an accident won’t take place. For complete peace of mind that you and your property will be taken care of should anything happen, there are a number of insurance policies you should consider, from Buildings & Contents Insurance, public liability insurance, Rent Guarantee to Landlord Home Emergency to name a few.

We can help you with short term private lets, Air B&B risks, private home insurance (with a letting room), to full Bed & Breakfast or small hotel risks.

Speak to our small business team today on 0800 115566 or at sme@thomas-carroll.co.uk for further guidance on how to protect your holiday home.