Fire safety law for holiday properties
Fire safety law applies if anyone pays to stay in your property, other than to live there as a permanent home.
Any flat, house, cottage, out-house, caravan (or other space) you rent out to others on a short-term arrangement or for a holiday is covered under the Fire Safety Order.
The Fire Safety Order makes you responsible for taking steps to protect all relevant people using your premises from the risk of fire.
- You must carry out a fire risk assessment and act on the results. This will identify the fire safety measures that you need to have in place to keep people safe from fire.
- Review your risk assessment regularly and whenever there has been a significant change that could impact it, such as if you add another guest bedroom, or change the layout of the property. We recommend you review your risk assessment at least annually.
- Make sure equipment is regularly serviced and periodic testing or inspections take place. This includes: fire alarm systems, gas appliances, electrical appliances, and any emergency lighting systems which can be used should the mains lights fail (as identified in the fire risk assessment).
- We recommend you keep a record of all testing and maintenance.
It is a legal requirement to comply with fire safety law. If you do not meet your requirements then this may lead to enforcement action, prosecution, fines or imprisonment. Find out about our fire safety inspections on holiday properties.
Fire safety risk assessments for holiday lets
We strongly recommend the fire risk assessment is carried out by someone with an appropriate level of knowledge and understanding of fire safety.
In small premises (typically ground and first floor) with a simple layout - you may feel able to carry out the risk assessment yourself.
Follow our five steps to fire safety risk assessment which will help guide you through the process and what you need to do.
Things to consider in your risk assessment
Vulnerable guests may include children, elderly or disabled people who may stay in your property.
- Does your booking procedure take into account any specific needs your guests may have? How would you know if someone has a hearing impairment and how would they be alerted in the event of a fire?
- It is important that your emergency plan (what your guests do in the event of a fire) is suitable for all persons staying at your premises. You must not rely on the Fire and Rescue Service to evacuate people from your premises.
Important: the Service does not accept escape windows as a suitable means of escape for guests. However, if your property has been fitted with escape windows to meet building regulations, they should be maintained as such.
Choosing a smoke alarm or fire detection system
All self-catering holiday lets are likely to need an interlinked automatic detection and fire warning system. Your risk assessment needs to consider the hazards and likelihood of fire and whether additional detection may be required.
A properly conducted fire risk assessment may show a variation to the standards described below. This could be due to different factors, such as the construction of the premises, the level of fire risk within other rooms, a change to the recommendation in the British Standard or a change to fire safety guidance.
Very small premises
(ground and first floor with only two or three guest bedrooms and short travel distances to a place outside)
- Interconnected detectors with a 10-year battery may be good enough which you may be able to fit yourself.
- Smoke detection should be provided in the staircase, corridors and bedrooms with a heat detector in the kitchen (technically, this is known as a BS5839 Part 6 Grade F LD2 system).
Small premises similar in size to a family home
(ground, first and second floor with a simple route, no more than 12m travel distance, to a place outside)
- Interlinked mains wired with an integral battery backup system of detectors.
- Smoke detectors should be provided in the staircase, corridors and bedrooms with a heat detector in the kitchen (technically known as a BS5839 Part 6 Grade D LD2 system).
- A more comprehensive fire alarm system consisting of manual call points and a control panel should be installed (complying with BS5839 Part 1 Category L2).
After you've installed a fire detection system
- Test your alarm system regularly. The alarm must be loud enough to wake anyone sleeping on the premises.
- Provide your guests with information on the alarm system, what to do in the event of a false alarm and what to do in the event of a fire.
If a fire knocks out the normal inside lighting, you should think about whether any ‘borrowed lighting’, for example from nearby street lamps is enough to allow people within the premises to find their way out.
If not, it may be acceptable in small premises to rely on rechargeable torches that come on automatically if the main supply fails. If required, you should have one in each room with a sign that says what they have been provided for.
Larger premises will need more sophisticated automatic emergency lighting systems.
One multi-purpose extinguisher on each floor near the stairs and a fire blanket in the kitchen should be enough in most small premises.
You will need to make sure that instructions on how to use them are clear and that there is a warning to people not to tackle anything other than a very small fire. Evacuating the premises is the safest thing to do.
Fire safety guidance
- Small premises - the government guidance in the 'Do you have paying guests?' booklet should be enough.
- Larger premises - the fire safety provisions will need to be more comprehensive. The guidance contained in the ‘Fire Safety Risk Assessment - sleeping accommodation’ guide may be more appropriate.