Holiday cottage letting: safety and legal compliance

Whether you are letting a cottage or other type of self-catering property, you the owner are the responsible party and are obliged to ensure your property is compliant. Our job is to help you do it, and to help make sure the right information is made available for guests. It’s essential to take a ‘safety first’ approach. Here’s our handy guide, including check-lists of your specific obligations.


You are obliged to carry out, or commission, a Fire Risk Assessment. It must be written down, and a copy must me made available at the property as well as one kept off site. It is not as onerous as it sounds and once you have done it the first time around, it’s a case of reviewing (and updating if necessary) every year.

You must:
– carry out a Fire Risk Assessment and act accordingly

We have a separate web page all about this important subject!

Fabrics and Soft furnishings

All fabrics and soft furnishings must be fire-retardant and approved to current British standards. This should not be problem for new furniture, but may be an issue with vintage. It is not self-evident what furnishing are covered by the regulations, but this web page explains and is the best advice we have:

You must:
– review your furnishings as part of your fire risk assessment and act accordingly

Gas, electrical and carbon monoxide safety

It is legally required for holiday cottage owners to ensure that:

Gas: If your property uses gas (including bottles gas), an annual Gas Safety Certificate is obtained from a fully qualified gas engineer who has a valid Gas Safe Certificate, and that a copy is sent to us annually.

Carbon monoxide: If your property has an appliance which burns, or is capable of burning, solid fuel or gas, a carbon monoxide alarm must be fitted on each floor that has a room that is used partly or wholly as living accommodation (that includes kitchens, WCs and bathrooms). This would include log and coal burning stoves and open fires, even if they are not normally in use. If an open fireplace is purely decorative and not useable then it is not covered by the regulations.

Electrical: It is recommended that you also have PAT (Portable Appliance Test) testing for small electrical devices on a regular basis. A minimum requirement is that you make an annual visual check of all appliances looking for frayed cables, loose plugs or sockets, burn marks or any suspicious signs, however small.

You must:
– get an annual Gas Safety Certificate and give us a copy
– make sure carbon monoxide alarms are fitted where appropriate
– check electrical appliances annually, or better still get them PAT tested

Slips, trips and falls

You have a responsibility to ensure the safety of guests, and employees (eg housekeepers). Make sure you regularly inspect, and request your housekeeper to do the same:

  • check for trip hazards, floors, rugs, mats and carpets
  • check handrails are securely fitted
  • check lighting is adequate
  • check water spillages are minimised on bathroom floors
  • check decking, external paths, the driveway, patios especially in the rainy season

Balconies, railings and drops

If you have a balcony, check the height and robustness of the railings. The legal minimum heights are:

For interior balustrades, railings and stair rails the height required is 900mm from where you can stand on, to the top of the handrail.

For exterior balconies, roofs or terraced areas the required height is 1100mm from where you can stand, to the top of the handrail.

For railings it must not be possible to pass a 100mm sphere between the railings.

Child and baby safe

Ensure your holiday let is as accident-free for children as possible:

  • Fit stair-gates when requested
  • Provide non-slip bath mats
  • Install covers over sockets and childproof locks on cupboards
  • Fence off any areas of water, however shallow, such as the pond.
  • Avoid window blinds with hanging looped cords, or ensure these can be tied away. These are a strangulation hazard for small children.

Access Statement

An Access Statement should be created for your property. This is of particular help to people with access needs (older people, disabled people etc.). Send us a copy for the Guest Directory, and so that we can send to a guests in advance of their arrival, on request. Many people need this information to help them decide if your property is suitable for them or not.

The most important thing is to include information about steps, door widths, floor spaces and surfaces. We are working on a template for access statements.

You should:
– create an Access Statement for your property

Trampolines, boats, surf boards and bikes

Insurers may advise you not to supple these — in which case who are we to argue. If you do choose to do so make sure that the guest information makes it very clear that they are used at the risk of the guests.

Planning Permission

If you are offering the property as a holiday let for the first time, planning permission for change of use may be required. This is usually a formality but it’s worth checking with your local planning authority first. If your property is within a larger apartment block or building then you should ensure there are no covenants on the building which would restrict a holiday let.


Please note the guidance on this page is not legal advice and you should seek professional guidance from your local authority and other regulatory bodies to ensure you are adhering to all current legislation. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information here, we cannot be responsible for any errors. Legislation changes all the time, and so it’s important that you keep abreast of any changes and act accordingly.