Holiday let rules and regulations made easy

Holiday let rules and regulations made easy

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While buying a holiday let can be an exciting investment, sometimes, with all the jargon that comes with rules and regulations surrounding holiday letting, it’s hard to see the wood for the trees. The legal requirements for letting a holiday property are there to protect you, your guests, and your employees against avoidable harm, and to ensure you are all covered should any accidents happen.

Holiday let regulations in the UK include health and safety regulations, fire, gas and electricity safety, and an understanding, assessment, and limitation of risks specific to your holiday property, guests and staff. If you are running a holiday let, these rules can't be overlooked but are fairly straightforward to adhere to.

Below is a simple guide to holiday let health and safety regulations. You should always consult a legal expert if you are in any doubt about the legal requirements for letting a holiday property in the UK.*

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An external view of one of our cottages looking cosy at night

Ensure you have adequate property insurance

Although following health and safety rules and regulations for holiday lets will help to mitigate risks, there is no guarantee that an accident won’t take place. This is why you must have adequate insurance for your holiday let. Here are some of the covers you should consider.

It is important to ensure that you have adequate building and contents insurance for your holiday let to provide financial protection should anything go wrong, such as a flood, fire, or break-in.

Plus, you will need specific holiday home insurance which must include public liability cover and be in place before your first booking. This covers legal claims should someone injure themselves in your holiday home.

You may also wish to consider loss of earnings insurance to protect your income if any of the above should happen.

Where you employ people, including those cleaning and maintaining your holiday home, employers’ liability cover is a legal requirement. 

Find out more in our article about holiday let insurance.

A collection of electrical equipment

Comply with electrical safety regulations

As a holiday let owner, you have a duty of care to ensure that all the electrical systems and fittings within your property are safe and in good working order. Electrical equipment and wires deteriorate with use and time and can result in serious injury, death or fire if they are faulty.

Electricity at Work Regulations 1989

The electrical installation within your property should be tested at least every five years and any work on the electrical installation should be carried out by a competent electrical contractor.

The legislation laid out in the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 is extensive, but particularly states that all electrical systems in the property must be maintained to avoid danger to all who use the premises. The regulations only apply if you have one or more employees working in your property, although this will include cleaners and people undertaking maintenance.

You also have general duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act, which include ensuring guests are protected from electrical hazards.

Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994

All electrical equipment supplied ‘in the course of a business’ is required to be safe. This applies equally to new and second-hand equipment. For electrical equipment to be regarded as ‘safe’, there should be no risk (or only a minimal risk) that the equipment will in any way cause death or injury to any person or domestic animal, or cause damage to the property.  

Electrical appliances should be checked regularly to ensure they remain in a safe working condition. Plugs should not be damaged or overloaded, have properly rated fuses, and cables should not be frayed. The use of extension cables, trailing leads and adaptors should be avoided wherever practicable.

Take a proactive approach and have a qualified electrician ensure the electrical items are safe by Portable Appliance Testing (otherwise known as PAT testing – note, this is a legal requirement for all holiday lets in Scotland). Most insurance companies will insist on this. We also recommend carrying out visual inspections before each let, checking for damaged cables, loose sockets, frayed wiring, burn marks, hot sockets or plugs, flickering lights, or tripping.

A Fire Risk Assessment folder with a red pen

Uphold your fire safety obligations

All properties must comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (as amended) (England & Wales) and under part 3 of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005, supported by the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006 that came into effect in October 2006.

From 1 October 2023, part of your legal obligations is that you must have an annual written Fire Risk Assessment (FRA), which you are required to provide to a guest if they request a copy of it. The FRA includes a series of inspections and ensures you have the correct equipment installed, for example, interlinked smoke detectors and heat alarms, and exit doors must not need a key to unlock them from the inside.

You are also required to carry out regular checks which include weekly tests of detection and alarm systems, six monthly services of detection and alarm systems by a competent person, and annual checks on emergency light systems. All checks and testing should be recorded.

Find out more about the recent legal requirements which came into effect on 1 October 2023 in our article about the latest fire safety guidance updates for holiday homes.   

Further guidance is expected to be issued by the Home Office in 2024 for those properties classed as ‘open-plan’ (i.e. those with an open-plan ground floor with no internal separation between the living area space and the escape route for guests from the first floor) or ‘larger properties’ (i.e. those that have more than four bedrooms, and/or sleep more than ten people and/or have more than two floors).

In Wales, all new properties must have a fire sprinkler system. All converted properties under the guidance of the planning/building control regime will also require a sprinkler system.  

Beautiful bedroom from Pump House - Ilkley

Furniture laws for holiday lets

As part of your holiday let fire safety obligations, the law requires that furnished accommodation must comply with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended).

The Government launched a Consultation which closed on 24 October 2023. They are currently considering updating this legislation and changes are likely to come into effect on 1 October 2024. The proposals include items specifically included in the new regulations and an excluded list. Some of those inclusions and exclusions are based on the size of the item concerned, e.g. pet beds or scatter cushions.

The regulations are in place to make sure that any upholstered furniture, supplied for domestic use, has a certain level of fire resistance. They apply to every upholstered item within the property, including beds, headboards, mattresses, sofa beds, cushions and pillows. It does not apply to antique furniture or furniture made before 1950.

Wood burner in Milkmaids Cottage

Chimney fires in holiday lets

If your holiday property has a wood burner or an open fire, it is recommended that you have the chimney swept at least twice a year when burning wood and annually if your fire uses smokeless fuels. This reduces the build-up of soot, allows you to clear obstructions such as bird nests, and helps prevent fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Updated fire safety guidance from the Home Office includes a requirement for chimneys to be swept at least once a year.

Bear in mind that many of your guests may not be familiar with real fires and how to use them safely, so it’s worth providing a guide in your holiday let to help with lighting and extinguishing them correctly.

A kitchen worktop with a gas hob

Adhere to gas safety legislation

If your holiday let contains any gas appliances, such as ovens, cookers and boilers, it’s your legal obligation to ensure they are safe and conform to the relevant safety standards. Having such appliances in your property comes with associated risks: fires, explosions, gas leaks and carbon monoxide poisoning. All heating and hot water systems (not just gas systems) should be maintained in good condition and be the subject of annual maintenance carried out by a qualified contractor.

The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 require annual testing of gas appliances by a Gas Safe registered installer. It is also your responsibility to ensure that appliances, their fittings, flues and chimneys are maintained. Records should be kept for two years, and a valid Gas Safety Certificate should be displayed in the holiday accommodation at all times.

An AGA in a kitchen

Service oil-fired appliances and equipment

Properties in more secluded locations will often have an oil supply instead of gas. By law, holiday let owners are required to have any oil-fired appliances and equipment serviced periodically, in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions – this is usually at least once every 12 months. This should also be carried out to comply with the updated fire safety guidance. 

An OFTEC Registered Technician will advise on oil safety, such as the storage of oil at your property, and provide you with an OFTEC CD/12 Oil Installation Check form. For the safety of your guests, you should also inspect the storage tank and supply pipes frequently for any leaks.

An installed carbon monoxide alarm

Install carbon monoxide alarms

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas that is also known as the ‘silent killer’. Common household appliances that burn gas, wood, oil or coal can produce this poisonous gas if they are not installed properly, are faulty, or are poorly maintained.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal, so since 1 October 2015, it has been the law for private residential landlords to install a carbon monoxide alarm in all rooms containing a gas or solid fuel burning appliance (such as an open fire, wood burner, etc).

Fitting audible carbon monoxide alarms will alert guests if the gas is present to dangerous levels. It’s a good idea to test all alarms on each changeover and provide your guests with instructions on how to operate the property’s appliances safely.

Indoor swimming pool at Herdsmans View

Swimming pool, hot tub and gym safety considerations

Holiday homes with added luxuries like swimming pools, hot tubs and gyms are great for increasing bookings, but they can be hazardous if safety measures aren’t adequately considered.

While there are no specific regulations governing swimming pool, hot tub or gym safety in holiday lets, you need to make sure that you comply with general health and safety legislation as laid out in the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

A thorough risk assessment should be carried out to make sure that these added extras are well-maintained and safe to use. Consider putting safety signs and fencing up, think about any slip or trip hazards, and provide rules around safety for guests.

Some useful health and safety guides:

Filling a glass of water from a tap

Safety legislation surrounding a private water supply

The Private Water Supplies Regulations (England) 2016, together with the Water Industry Act 1991, apply to all private water supplies intended for human consumption, whether this is for drinking, washing or food production. The legislation aims to ensure that all private water sources are safe and free from contaminants.

If you have a private water supply that is used by guests in your holiday let, you have a duty in law to ensure the water, along with the filter system, is safe and tested in accordance with regulations. Your local council will be able to advise you on the regulations relating to private water supplies.

Couple watching a programme on the TV

TV, DVD and music licences

If you have a TV in your accommodation and guests can watch or stream live TV on it, you will need a TV Licence. For holiday lets, you will need a special type called a Hotel and Mobile Units Television Licence (hotel licence). The TV Licensing website has more information on this.  

You will also need a licence if you provide a DVD film library for your guests, as providing films to paying guests without a licence is an infringement of copyright law (the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988). Prices will depend on the size of your accommodation and the length of the licence. If you do not provide DVDs, and guests bring their own, you will not need a licence.  

Depending on the size and type of your holiday let, you may also need a copyright licence to play music on a device. The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 states “any use of copyrighted music in public is possible only with the permission of the person who holds the copyright to the music being played”. You may therefore need something called “TheMusicLicence” (which covers both copyright licences which are known as the PPL Licence and the PRS for Music Licence) in order to avoid this.

Ground-floor bathroom in one of our cottages

Comply with the Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 came into force on 1 October 2010. It applies to all goods and services provided to the public across England, Scotland and Wales.

There is not any specific legal requirement to have an Accessibility Guide (previously referred to as an Access Statement), but there is a legal requirement for owners to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for disabled visitors to stay in their property. Note that disability can take many forms and reasonable adjustments are not confined to making physical changes to a property.  

Service providers, including holiday let owners, are required to think ahead and take steps to address barriers that impede people with health conditions or impairments. There are three potential requirements:

  • Make ‘reasonable’ changes to the way things are done (such as changing practices, policies or procedures where disabled people would be at a ‘substantial disadvantage’. For example, allowing assistance dogs free of charge where dogs would not usually be permitted by an owner).
  • Make ‘reasonable’ changes to the property (such as changes to the structure to improve access. For example, altering or removing a physical feature to improve access).
  • Providing an auxiliary aid and services such as an induction loop for guests with hearing aids.

What is ‘reasonable’ will depend on a number of circumstances, including the cost of an adjustment, the potential benefit it may bring to other guests, the resources the owner has, and how practical the changes are.   

Hands with gloves on cleaning a door handle

COVID-19 government guidance for hotels and guest accommodation

The UK Government website has a useful section on guidance for people who run guest accommodation in England, with separate information for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The COVID-19 guidance for holiday homeowners mainly focuses on thorough and regular cleaning, with an emphasis on touch points such as handles, keys and surfaces throughout the property.

Risk assessments should include 'a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks of COVID-19 in the workplace' and control measures should be identified to manage that risk. There is a detailed explanation of how to carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment for your holiday home on the Government website.

Builder using his equipment in an empty building

Holiday let building regulations/planning permission

If you are planning to build, extend, renovate or change a residential property into a holiday let, your first port of call should be consulting your local planning department. They will be able to tell you if you require planning permission. This online tool can help you find your local planning department.

In Wales, on 20 October 2022, a new Planning Use Class C6 came into effect. This is for dwellinghouses used for commercial short-term letting of no longer than 31 days for each period of occupation. A Consultation has also taken place in England and there are proposals for a new Use Class C5 for short-term lets.  

Person typing on a laptop

Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) – Data Protection

The holding and use of personal information of individuals is regulated by the Data Protection Act 2018, which sits alongside the General Data Protection Regulation 2018 (GDPR). The legislation applies if you process data for any business purpose, regardless of the size of the business, and includes the personal data of employees and customers.  

If you process personal data using computers or any systems that can process information automatically, including CCTV systems, you need to register with the ICO, unless an exemption applies. The amount of the fee payable to register with the ICO depends on the size of your business and turnover, and this is required to be renewed every year. The ICO provides extensive information on data protection, including a free toolkit for businesses to check their GDPR compliance.

Person filling in an application form with a black pen

Statutory Licensing Scheme – Scotland only

A statutory Licensing Scheme came into force on 1 October 2022. All owners who were operating as short-term lets before that date were required to submit their application for a Licence by 30 September 2023.  

If you have not operated as a short-term let previously, you need to apply for a Licence for “secondary letting” and bookings for your property cannot be taken until the Licence has been granted. Each local authority has its own application process and sets its own application fee, so these vary across Scotland. Once your Licence has been granted, you are required to show the Licence number, EPC rating and Maximum Occupancy on all property listings.

Statutory Registration Scheme – England and Wales only

Consultations have taken place as the Government is committed to introducing a registration scheme for short-term lets. It is very likely that a separate mandatory National Scheme for each of England and Wales will come into force in the future, which could be as early as 2024.  

Member of our team meeting some owners

Need more info regarding holiday letting in the UK?

For more detailed information on any of the points raised in our guide to holiday letting regulations in the UK, please consult Visit Britain’s The Pink Book Online. Or if you're looking for more advice on holiday let safety requirements, there is a lot of general information for business owners on the Government's Health and Safety Executive website.

Here at, we come across all sorts of questions regarding holiday letting on a daily basis. If there's anything we can help you with (free and no obligation guidance), please don't hesitate to get in touch. We can discuss money matters, and can answer any other questions you may have.

Download a free letting guide and discover more about how we can help deliver letting success for you.

*Disclaimer: The information contained on this page is provided for informational purposes and should not be construed as legal advice by on any subject. It was last updated in December 2023.

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