Holiday let rules and regulations
Following and keeping up-to-date with rules and regulations forms an important aspect of holiday letting. While the list of do’s and don’ts isn’t onerous, there are still plenty of rules you need to follow to keep your guests as safe as possible and ensure your property conforms with legislation. In this post, we provide a checklist of the main rules and regulations for holiday lets in Cornwall.
Before you start letting
Before you advertise your holiday let and receive your first guests, you need to take certain steps. These include:
Change of use permission
In some local authorities you need permission for change of use from a private home to a holiday let. This step is usually a formality and easy to do, but check with your local authority to find out.
If your holiday let is in an apartment block or building with multiple residences, check that self-catering lets are allowed. Find out about any restrictions on letting. And if there are resident rules make sure your guests know about these.
Register for business tax
Instead of council tax furnished holiday lets are classed as businesses. You therefore pay business rates instead. Holiday lets often qualify for Small Business Rate Relief with up to 100% exemptions in some cases. Register for business tax at your local council and find out the rate that applies to your property.
If your holiday let meets the HMRC Furnished Holiday Lets criteria, you qualify for mortgage interest deductions and allowances. Find out more about the costs of a holiday let in Cornwall here.
Holiday home insurance
You must take out adequate insurance for your holiday let – be aware that ordinary household cover isn’t sufficient. Take out a specific holiday let policy from a specialist company and make sure it includes public liability and covers you for damage caused by guests.
Fire risk assessment
All holiday lets must undergo a regular fire risk assessment, a copy of which should be kept in the property (keep one yourself too). You should provide information about fire evacuation procedures (i.e. how to exit the property in the event of a fire) and the location of the fire alarms or how to raise the alarm. Put this information in a place where it can be clearly seen – for example, in the hall or property entrance.
Here is more information on fire risk assessment and your responsibilities as a holiday let owner.
You should carry out regular checks on your utility supplies, particularly gas and electricity (see below). If possible, get a qualified inspector to check your holiday let on an annual basis.
Get a qualified electrician to check the entire electrical installation in the property before you start your holiday let business and then once a year. It’s also a good idea to have all electrical appliances checked on a regular basis using PAT testing.
If your holiday let uses gas appliances for heating, cooking and/or hot water, you must have an up-to-date Gas Safety Certificate issued by a qualified inspector. Make a point of having regular inspections. You will also need carbon monoxide detectors in the house. Install these near the gas appliances.
Solid fuel fires
If your property has a solid fuel (wood or coal) fire, you must install a carbon monoxide detector in the room. Make sure you have the chimney regularly swept and provide guests with clear instructions on how to light the fire, and safety precautions.
Fittings and furnishings
To minimise the risk of fire, all your furniture and soft furnishings – for example, sofas and beds, and pillows and curtains – must comply with the Furniture and Furnishings Act. Note that antique and pre-1950 furniture is exempt from this regulation.
As a holiday let owner you are obliged to have an Accessibility Statement available for guests. This provides information for guests with limited mobility so that they can make an informed decision on whether your holiday let is suitable for their needs. The statement should include an accurate description of the property, its facilities and services, and be available to send to guests on request. You should also keep a copy in the property itself.
Check the entire property (inside and out) for trip hazards. Assess outdoor paths and garage access, especially when it’s wet. Inside, check rugs and steps for trip hazards and showers and baths for slipperiness. Make sure handrails on the stairs are secure and that lighting throughout the property is adequate.
If you’re aiming to attract families to your holiday let, you need to add child safety to your checklist. If there are stairs inside or steps outside, provide a stair gate. Make sure water features (hot tubs, ponds, fountains and swimming pools) are fenced or have secure access.
A swimming pool or hot tub certainly adds appeal to a holiday let, but they also come with extra obligations. If your property has a pool, make sure the person in charge of its maintenance knows how to clean it and keep the chemicals at the right level.
Hot tubs carry a risk of legionella and other infectious agents if they aren’t maintained correctly. This government booklet provides useful information on how to control this risk through correct maintenance of your hot tub.
When you start letting
Once you’ve ticked off everything on the list above, you’re ready to start advertising for your first guests. This step has some regulations too as follows:
Holiday letting agreement
You need a holiday letting agreement (contract) for every rental. This needn’t be a complex document, but it should include your name, telephone and address, details of the property itself, guest details, booking period and price. You may also wish to include information about your payment terms and cancellation policy as well as any other relevant terms and conditions (see below). We handle all of this for you.
- Property information – address, location, description and booking periods.
- Payment information – details of deposit and refunds of deposit, total price, extra charges (if applicable) and the business name that will appear on a credit card charge if different to your own.
- Cancellation policy – full information on terms and procedure.
- Property prohibitions – information on what’s allowed in the property, for example, do you accept pets or allow smoking, and how many people can stay.
- Damage policy – information on what guests should do if they cause any damage and if they need to compensate you.
Under current data protection regulations, you must keep all guest information secure. This includes personal details (e.g. names and contact details). You must store this information in written or electronic form securely. Note that you can only use it for your holiday let purposes, for example, to communicate with the guest about their booking. You cannot pass the information on to third parties.
In 2018, the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) will replace current legislation. It includes further-reaching measures for data protection. For more information click here. https://www.visitbritain.org/pink-book/registration-and-data-protection
Overwhelmed by the length of the list? Or exhausted at the thought of all the checks and controls you need to do? Let the experts do the hard work for you. At Cornish Traditional Cottages we’ve been helping holiday let owners for 50 years so we know what we’re talking about. Get in touch.