Fire safety law for holiday properties
Fire safety law applies if anyone pays to stay in your property or in a room within your property, other than to live there permanently.
Single premises of ground floor, or ground and first floor, providing sleeping accommodation for a maximum of 10 persons is considered to be small paying guest accommodation such as; houses, cottages, and chalets, individual flats, holiday caravans, camping and glamping pods, bothies, lodges, shepherds’ huts, tents, tree houses and yurts.
Any of the above 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 suitable and sufficient 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
In small paying guest accommodation, you may feel able to complete your own fire risk assessment. Follow our five steps to fire safety risk assessment which will help guide you through the process and what you need to do.
If you do not feel confident in carrying out your own fire risk assessment, you can ask a competent person to carry this out for you.
We recommend the fire risk assessment is carried out by someone with an appropriate level of knowledge and understanding of fire safety. We cannot carry out a fire risk assessment for you but see our guide on how to find a risk assessor.
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?
- Your emergency plan (what your guests do in the event of a fire) must be 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: Escape windows on the ground floor are acceptable if they are easily accessed and provide a clear opening of sufficient size. Guests with mobility impairments should not be accommodated in rooms reliant on window escape. The use of escape windows for rooms above the ground floor is not considered a safe means of escape for paying guests, as they are likely to be unfamiliar with the property's layout and is therefore not acceptable.
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.
Under normal circumstances, in small paying guest accommodation there will be a need for domestic interlinked smoke and heat alarms.
Smoke alarms should be installed in:
- Dining rooms
- Roof voids containing combustible materials and sources of ignition
Heat alarms should be installed in:
- Other rooms in which false alarms might occur from smoke alarms (such as laundry or utility rooms)
Preferably smoke and heat alarms should be mains powered with a battery-powered standby supply (technically known as Grade D1).
After you've installed a fire detection system
- Domestic smoke and heat alarms should be tested monthly. The alarm must be loud enough to wake anyone sleeping on the premises.
- Check the manufacturer's recommendations regarding maintenance.
- You should keep a record of testing and maintenance.
- 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 breaks out, guests should be told to leave the building by the nearest available exit and to contact the fire and rescue service. Escape plans must consider the range of potential guests, taking account age, mobility and language.
A simple plan of the premises and instructions on what to do in the event of a fire may be useful for guests. It would also be useful to provide guests with the full address of the premises to give to emergency services should they need to call.
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, you can replace or enhance existing light fittings with emergency escape lights. These are recommended, particularly in hallways and staircases that may be difficult for guests to navigate in darkness. It may be acceptable in very 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.
In self-catering accommodation, guests are not expected to use fire-fighting equipment. You may wish to provide a small fire extinguisher and/or fire blanket in the kitchen area.
If you do decide to provide fire-fighting equipment, you also need to provide instructions on how to use them and warn 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 'A guide to making your small paying guest accommodation safe from fire' 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.