Holiday Let Fire Risk Assessments: Everything You Need to Know

If you rent out self-catering accommodation to paying guests on a short term basis or for a holiday, then the Fire Safety Order applies and, as the owner of the property, you will be legally responsible for protecting everyone who stays there from the risk of fire. Part of this responsibility includes carrying out a holiday let fire risk assessment.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (‘Fire Safety Order’) makes it a legal requirement to protect guests from the risks of fire, and to carry out a fire risk assessment if you provide tourist accommodation of any size for paying guests in England. Whether it’s a self-catering flat, apartment, house, cottage, lodge or caravan, then the Fire Safety Order will apply.

Photo of the holiday cottage by Liv Cashman on Unsplash

What are the fire safety laws for holiday lets?

Under the Fire Safety Order, holiday let owners must undertake a fire risk assessment for self-catering accommodation to identify any potential fire risks, and then act on the findings to ensure there are sufficient measures in place to protect guests. This may mean putting new measures in place, or improving existing ones.

The risks, and the associated fire safety measures, must be kept under review. Fire safety legislation for holiday lets also requires owners to ensure equipment, such as fire alarm systems, gas appliances, electrical appliances and emergency lighting, is subject to regular servicing and periodic testing or inspections, with a record being kept of the testing and maintenance.

These duties are a legal requirement, with failure to comply potentially resulting in enforcement action, prosecution, fines and sometimes imprisonment. Holiday let owners also have a moral duty of care to ensure the safety of guests and visitors.

What’s involved in a fire risk assessment for holiday lets?

A holiday let fire risk assessment involves identifying situations in the holiday home that could lead to a fire breaking out. The most common causes of fires include cooking, overloaded or unsafe electrical appliances, smoking, unattended candles, and the misuse of log burners or open fires.

When conducting a risk assessment for holiday let accommodation, it is also important to consider the presence of any combustible materials that could fuel a fire, such as curtains, wall coverings, furnishings, furniture and flammable liquids and gases. Any storage areas for fuel or gas cylinders will need special attention.

It is also necessary to identify people at risk. A holiday cottage fire risk assessment should consider guest types, such as young families and those who are older or disabled. You should also think about how you will gather information about your guests in advance so that you can prepare, for example asking questions during the booking process to alert you to any issues, such as sight or hearing impairment.

Once any particular risks have been identified, you will need to assess how easy it would be for guests to be able to evacuate your property in the event of a fire.

It is important that your emergency plan is suitable for every guest type, and you should not rely on the Fire and Rescue Service to evacuate people from your property in the event of a fire.

Once a fire risk assessment for self-catering accommodation is complete, you will need to evaluate the hazards identified, and ascertain what can be done to reduce or eliminate them.

Actions you may take in order to do this may include:

  • Installing the appropriate type of smoke alarm depending on the premises type and size
  • Installing carbon monoxide detectors in any room where a fixed combustion appliance is present (except gas cookers)
  • Providing emergency lighting to highlight emergency routes and exits where 'borrowed' lighting, e.g. from outside street lights, would not be sufficient in the event of a power outage
  • Providing a fire blanket and an appropriate fire extinguisher
  • Changing front door locks for the internal keyless type
  • Installing internal self-closing fire doors
  • Removing window lock keys
  • Banning smoking
  • Removing candles and putting a no-candle policy in place
  • Taking particular care with seasonal decorations such as Christmas trees

What to do with your holiday let fire risk assessment once complete?

Your completed fire risk assessment should be placed in a prominent position within your holiday let so that guests can read it. Its aim is to help prevent fires during their stay, and help them understand what to do in an emergency. 

You should therefore provide information on where to find the emergency fire evacuation plan; the location of the fire blanket and fire extinguisher, and the location of the exit points. You should also highlight the fire risks within the property, and provide policies on the use of appliances and candles, etc. as well as your smoking policy.

It is important to keep a record of any actions you have taken to minimise the risks identified in your holiday let fire risk assessment, and ensure they are communicated to your cleaners and / or property managers if applicable.

Risks and measures should also be kept under ongoing review. For example, smoke alarms should be regularly tested, and you should monitor whether any rules you have put in place are being followed.

Any fire risk assessment should include regular reviews to identify any potential issues that have come up since the last assessment, or to cover any new installations or furniture, or changes to the property.

Fire safety legislation for holiday lets requires the risk assessment to be kept up to date, but does not set down any prescribed timings for reviews. Many owners choose to review annually, although if changes have been made to the property, then a review may be required sooner.

Need a fire risk assessment for holiday lets in Cumbria, Penrith, Kendal or Carlisle?

At BPW Fire Safety, our experienced and qualified fire safety specialists are ready to help keep your Cumbria holiday let safe and compliant with our fire risk assessment services.

If you are uncertain of your fire safety responsibilities as a holiday let owner, or feel daunted by the prospect of carrying out a holiday cottage fire risk assessment and putting the necessary measures in place to mitigate the risks identified, then you can take peace of mind by handing over to our competent assessors.

For a tailored quote at competitive rates for holiday let fire risk assessments Cumbria, Penrith, Kendal and Carlisle wide, contact BPW Fire Safety today.


Ash Grove, Alexandra Road
Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 9AN

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