ith new fire safety rules set to take effect in less than a month, Airbnb hosts and other short-term rental property owners need to get prepared. These regulations, designed to enhance guest safety, require all hosts to create a written fire safety risk assessment before welcoming paying guests into their properties. This includes not only experienced hosts but also those who might be renting out their spare rooms casually.
The Basics of the New Rules
Starting from October 1, 2023, anyone renting out a property, even for just a single night, must have a comprehensive fire safety risk assessment in place. This assessment is crucial for ensuring the safety of your guests and compliance with the law.
Previously, smaller holiday let businesses were exempt from the requirement to physically document their fire assessment, but now, all hosts must have a written assessment. Failure to comply with these rules can result in property closures, substantial fines, or even imprisonment.
The Government's Guidance
The Home Office has published a comprehensive fire risk assessment guide for owners of small paying-guest accommodations. This guide offers valuable insights into the rules introduced under the Government's fire safety program and includes a template for creating a fire risk assessment tailored to flats and two-story buildings.
Key components of the guidance include:
Ensuring clear escape routes in case of a fire.
Installation of interlinked smoke detectors in various areas of the property.
Use of tamper-proof batteries for detectors.
Regular testing of alarms.
Installation of fire doors.
Providing fire blankets and extinguishers near the kitchen.
Compliance with Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988.
Who Can Conduct the Assessment?
While it is essential to create a fire safety risk assessment, it is equally crucial to have a "competent person" carry out this assessment. A competent person should have a good understanding of relevant legislation, training in fire safety principles, and an awareness of human behaviour during fires.
For more complex properties, it is advisable to seek professional assistance from qualified engineers with expertise in fire safety. When choosing an assessor, verify their professional body registration and third-party accreditation.
If you are an owner of a short-term rental property, make sure to start looking into the regulations to ensure that you are compliant and not at risk of a fine.