It’s vital owners know where they stand and be reassured that their valuable holiday home is fire-safe.
We got expert advice from Fire Safety Consultant Rob Cockburn, Operations Manager for AGO Fire & Rescue Compliance Services.
Why are the rules changing, and why does it affect holiday homes?
Since the Grenfell Tower tragedy, fire safety across all industries was put under the microscope, and it became clear that things needed to change. This led to the Building Safety Act 2022, which came into force on October 1, 2023.
Holiday lets are included because paying members of the public stay there.
The key change is that all businesses will now need a written fire risk assessment.
The amendments are in The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) Part 2 Section 9.6 and 9.11.
Why DOES THIS APPLY TO A HOLIDAY HOME RENTAL?
The Fire Safety Order applies to your property if anyone pays to stay in your premises or in a room within your premises other than to live there permanently.
The FSO applies to all homes that are not let as a principal residence, even if you rent out a room in your premises only once.
The main responsibilities are outlined in the government’s ‘Guide to making your small paying-guest-accommodation safe from fire’. The main responsibilities advised are:
 To carry out a suitable and sufficient Fire Risk Assessment, reviewed annually.
 To ensure adequate safety measures are provided and maintained.
 If your holiday let is in a shared building (such as an apartment block), you must work with the building’s other ‘Responsible Persons’ who have duties under fire safety legislation to co-ordinate the fire safety measures for which each of you is responsible.
THE LEGISLATION SAYS I AM THE ‘RESPONSIBLE PERSON’. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
CAN I DO THE FIRE RISK ASSESSMENT (FRA) MYSELF?
The government’s guide (see the link above) states that if you feel confident in conducting an FRA, then you can. Be aware, though, that when it comes to fire safety, corners cannot be cut. If you’re not confident or struggle to stay objective, then it’s best to get a fire risk assessor to do it for you. There are varying consequences for not having the correct policies and procedures in place or missing a major issue in a fire risk assessment.
The guidance states that if you do need assistance, you must appoint a ‘competent’ fire risk assessor. The government is yet to define what it views as ‘competent’; however, the industry is expecting that all fire risk assessors will need a minimum Level 3 qualification in fire risk assessments and a minimum number of hours in what’s called Continuous Person Development (CPD).
The new guidance is only for paying-guest-accommodation in homes of two storeys or fewer. This includes, for instance, apartments within multi-storey buildings (subject to the ‘Responsible Persons’ co-operation mentioned above).
If your holiday let property has more than two storeys, then the government guidance on ‘Sleeping Accommodation’ comes into action. It’s much more comprehensive, and your FRA must be carried out by a competent fire risk assessor, not yourself.
DOES THE SIZE OF MY PROPERTY MATTER?
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I GET A FIRE RISK ASSESSMENT?
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) states that fire risk assessments should be reviewed by the responsible person ‘regularly’, but there’s no set timeframe within the law itself.
However, the Fire & Rescue Service enforces the FSO and the Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service recommends a Fire Risk Assessment be conducted annually. The government’s guide also says, ‘An annual review is usually appropriate.’
Importantly, it adds that ‘you must also conduct a review following any significant change to the premises or an incident such as a fire.’ A lot can change in a year.
The government’s guide says all properties should have a fire blanket with instructions on how to use it. A fire extinguisher is not mandatory. Furthermore, guests may not be able to use fire extinguishers safely, and might also encourage a guest to attempt to tackle a fire, placing them at unnecessary risk and remaining inside an unsafe building beyond the available safe evacuation time.
The government’s guidance (Section 6) says that ‘In the event of a fire, evacuating the premises is the safest thing to do and guests should not be expected to use firefighting equipment.”
WHAT FIREFIGHTING EQUIPMENT SHOULD I HAVE IN PLACE?
WHAT HAPPENS IF I DO NOT HAVE THE CORRECT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES IN PLACE?
The final big change in the Building Safety Act 2022 is that it’s now easier for enforcement authorities to take action against non-compliance. That said, the local Fire & Rescue Service want to work with you to get everything right. If the correct policies and procedures are not undertaken, the Service can:
 Issue an Enforcement Notice, working with you to make changes within an achievable time frame set by the Fire & Rescue Service sets.
 Shut the premises down.
 In extreme circumstances – or if a fire has occurred – they may pursue prosecution of the ‘Responsible Person’, which may result in an unlimited fine or a prison sentence.
The Fire & Rescue Service can turn up at any property at any time to check if business premises are fire-safe – and that includes holiday lets.
Fresh Escapes works with a number of fire risk consultancies to ensure our owners get the reassurance they need to make their homes safe and compliant.
Our owners trust us to manage and maintain their homes for all-round peace of mind.
This article is intended only as a summary guide to fire safety regulations for holiday homes at the time of publication.
Consult a competent Fire Risk Assessor or contact your local Fire & Rescue Service for fully qualified advice.
Fresh Escapes is not responsible for the content of third-party websites.