England’s New Fire Safety Regulations: What Holiday Home Owners Need to Know

On the 1st of October 2023, the government is set to introduce new fire safety regulations for holiday homes in England. The primary goal behind these changes is to enhance safety measures in holiday rentals, ensuring the utmost protection for guests during their stays. This transition in the industry necessitates a thorough understanding of the modifications and your responsibilities as a self-catering property owner.

Owner Responsibilities and Actions

With these impending changes, it is advisable to have a professional Fire Risk Assessment conducted rather than attempting it yourself. The new regulations are intricate and can be challenging to grasp, making professional guidance essential for compliance and guest safety. Ensure regular revisits to your Fire Risk Assessment, particularly when alterations are made to your property.

Several organisations within the fire safety industry maintain registries of companies capable of assisting with Fire Risk Assessments and necessary improvements. While adhering to these regulations may incur costs, it is possible to offset some expenses against your tax liability. It is advisable to consult with an accountant or tax specialist to explore these options.

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Understanding the New Guidelines

The new guidelines distinguish between small self-catering premises, open-plan properties, and larger self-catering accommodations.  It is crucial to determine which category your property falls into, as the rules vary based on size and characteristics.

Smaller Properties (Less than 4 Bedrooms or Sleeps Less than 10 Guests):

These properties typically adhere to these guidelines: Small Accommodation Fire Safety Guidelines

Open-Plan or Larger Properties (4 Bedrooms or More, or Sleeps More than 10 Guests):

These properties should follow these guidelines: Large Accommodation Fire Safety Guidelines

Key Points from the New Guidelines

Here’s a summary of crucial aspects outlined in the new government guidelines, though it is not exhaustive:

1. Fire Risk Assessment: It will become a legal obligation for all properties to have a detailed, written fire risk assessment that addresses every facet of potential fire hazards. A physical copy of this comprehensive fire risk evaluation should be visibly displayed within your property, preferably in the welcome folder. We highly advise you to engage a fire safety specialist who can conduct a current assessment of your property that complies with legislative requirements. For properties that are larger or more intricate, it is highly improbable that the owner will possess the necessary expertise to adequately assess the level of risk.

2. Emergency Lighting: Ensure adequate lighting for safe evacuation in the event of a fire. All bedrooms and evacuation paths must be equipped with emergency escape lighting, like plug-in flashlights. Consideration can be given to ambient light from an external source, such as a street lamp. Larger properties may need comprehensive escape path lighting since flashlights might not provide adequate illumination.

3. Fire Doors: Install fire-resistant doors on escape routes that offer 30-minute fire protection capability.

4. Smoke Detectors & Fire Alarms: Linked hard-wired detectors are required in bedrooms, living rooms, and escape routes.

5. Fire Alarm Checks: Regular checks, including weekly assessments during guest turnovers, are essential.

6. Heating: Inspect heating and hot water systems annually.

7. Locks: Install thumb-turn locks on exit doors for improved safety.

8. Electrical Safety: The EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report) is required every five years.

9. Woodburners & Open Fires: Regular chimney flue sweeping is necessary.

10. Fire Safety Equipment: Provide fire extinguishers and fire blankets, with regular checks.

11. Candles: Consider prohibiting candles and establish a clear policy for guests.

What’s the Next Step to Ensure You Meet the New Regulations?

We highly recommend enlisting the services of a professional to perform your Fire Risk Assessment instead of attempting it on your own. The upcoming changes, effective from October 1st, introduce added complexity and can be challenging to navigate.

When it comes to locating a qualified professional to carry out the Fire Risk Assessment for your property, we suggest conducting a simple Google search and seeking out a ‘fire safety risk assessor.’

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About the author

Kendra, the Marketing Content Manager at Preno, brings her expertise in Marketing and Communications to help hoteliers stay ahead of the curve. With a deep passion for the industry, she is committed to providing valuable insights and strategies for success.

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