New fire Safety Regulations for Holiday Homes in England and Wales

The government has issued new regulations which will apply from 1st October 2023.

Changes Are Coming for Fire Safety Regulations

Are you prepared for the upcoming changes in fire safety regulations for holiday lets? If you own a holiday home, it is important to be aware of the new guidelines that will be going into effect on the 1st of October 2023. The guidelines will vary, based on the size and characteristics of the property, so it may be helpful to enlist the assistance of a fire safety professional, who can offer guidance and help you determine if your property is in compliance with the new regulations. Here, Together Travel offers an overview of key changes and updates in fire regulations for holiday lets so that you will be ready for the transition.

Responsibilities of Holiday Home Owners

Those who own holiday homes are legally required to have a Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) carried out and recorded for their properties. A copy of the FRA must be displayed in your property, and we recommend putting it into your Cottage Information Folder. Because the fire regulations for holiday lets in 2023 are complicated and hard to follow, we strongly advise contacting a professional Fire Risk Assessment company to ensure that your property is compliant. It is unlikely, especially in the case of larger, more complicated properties, that a property owner would have the expertise to thoroughly evaluate the fire risk of a holiday home, but a professional will be able to fully comprehend the changes and competently follow the government guidelines to reduce the risk for you and your guests. When looking for a fire risk assessor, make sure to find one that is accredited. The Fire Sector Federation, The Institution of Fire Engineers, and The Institute of Fire Prevention Officers are all good resources. Bringing your property into compliance with the new fire regulations for holiday homes is likely to require an investment on your part, but you may be able to offset some of the costs against your tax bill. Talk to a tax advisor or an accountant to determine if this is possible.

emergency exit

Fire Safety Measures

Your first step is to assess how your property is classified in regard to the new guidelines. Fire regulations for self-catering accommodation will be different from the regulations for open plan and large properties, and fire regulations for holiday lets in Wales will differ from those in England. The rules around what is required are based on size and characteristics of the property. Note: the regulations for large, complex properties is still undergoing changes, so those with properties that have more than four bedrooms, sleep more than 10 people, are over two floors, or have an open plan kitchen should refer to existing guidance. However, for those whose properties fall under the new regulations, here are a few key points from the new guidelines:

  • Emergency lighting is required along escape routes and in bedrooms. In smaller properties this may be able to be provided by rechargeable torches that come on when the main supply fails. However, larger properties may require full escape lighting, though borrowed lighting from streetlights can be taken into account. If torches are used, there should be one in each room with a sign detailing their intended use.
  • Escape routes must be equipped with fire doors. These doors must have a 30 minute fire protection capability or an adaptation providing the same level of protection.
  • Linked, hard-wired smoke detectors are now required in bedrooms, living rooms, and protected escape routes. This means they must be in hallways, corridors, staircases, living rooms, and dining rooms that lead to the main fire exit. If your property is large or has a complicated layout, a more sophisticated system may be required.
  • Hot water and heating systems must undergo annual inspections. This includes systems powered by renewable energy sources like air/ground source heat pumps.
  • Exit doors must have locks that do not require keys. In most cases, thumb turn locks should be fitted on the doors.
  • For electrical safety, the EICR (fixed wiring check) must be conducted every five years. Interestingly, this now applies to many small Unique hideaways and glamping properties.
  • Chimney flues must be swept annually.
  • Fire safety equipment must be provided. This includes at least one fire extinguisher on each floor of the building and a fire blanket in the kitchen. Annual inspections of this equipment are to be conducted by a competent contractor. However, weekly checks on all fire safety equipment and exit routes must be carried out, as well as checks at each change of occupancy. The results of these checks must be recorded.
  • Candles should be prohibited. Make sure to have a clear policy on this posted for your guests.

smoke detectors

Implications for Holiday Home Owners

The most important reason to comply with the updated safety regulations is to protect your guests and provide safe and comfortable holiday accommodations. Non-compliance, however, will also bring legal consequences, including hefty fines. Your local Fire and Rescue Services are legally responsible for making sure properties are in compliance, and may inspect the property to ensure that the owners are complying with the new laws in order to keep their guests safe. The goal is for homeowners and fire safety officials to work together for fire safety, so they may also be able to answer your questions about the new regulations in the interest of helping you find the guidance you need to achieve compliance.

Resources and Support

If you need further information, there are government publications detailing these new fire regulations for holiday lets in England and Wales. There is also a compilation of the new guidance, with best practices that should be adopted to comply with the new fire safety laws, which can be found here. Additional guidance to help owners navigate the process of making their properties safe and legal has been published by the Professional Association of Self-Caterers UK, in the form of webinars and papers that can be found here and are an exceptional resource. For those with properties in Scotland, fire safety guidance can be found here.

Support for Your Holiday Home in England or Wales

It can be daunting to stay abreast of the rules and regulations for holiday homes, but partnering with an experienced company can make it easier. If you are shopping for property in the UK, Together Travel has an extensive portfolio of holiday homes available to purchase, and you will see that as the exclusive agent and operator for Natural Land holiday homes, we have access to exceptional holiday homes in areas of great natural beauty, built sustainably and to modern standards, yet designed to complement the surrounding landscape. If you have decided to invest in property in the UK as a holiday home to let, Together Travel can help you get started, as well as handling all the details to make it simple. Find out about all we have to offer by contacting our expert concierge team at +44(0)1625 416430 or emailing us for more information.