This category is all about Health and Safety Guidance for owners of holiday homes, cottages and complexes in the UK. It contains posts, articles and tips on many areas of managing a safe and legal Holiday Letting business. It includes articles, tips and guidance on fire safety, risk assessments, electrical circuit safety and PAT testing, Carbon monoxide safety and so much more. Check out these posts, Does your holiday home need a fire alarm system? Holiday Home Industry Code Of Practice, Fire Safety Law for Holiday Letting.

Covid-19 Holiday Let Cleaning Guidance

Covid-19 Holiday Let Cleaning GuidanceFollowing the unprecedented measures imposed to control the Covid-19 pandemic, you will no doubt be looking forward to reopening your doors to guests once restrictions are lifted. As holiday letting insurance specialists, we understand owners will have concerns about the extra steps needed for changeovers.

The hospitality and tourism industry have pulled together to produce protocols across all sectors, including specific Covid-19 Holiday Let Cleaning Guidance for self-catering properties.

Certification and Assessment Schemes

There are also assessment schemes that you can sign up to, including those offered by QIT, The AA and VisitEngland in partnership with the national tourist organisations:

Quality in Tourism (QIT) state that their Safe, Clean & Legal™ scheme assesses everything that a hospitality or accommodation operator needs to do to be compliant with regulation, committed to quality standards and of course safe and clean. Importantly the scheme has been updated to reflect additional standards and requirements for those providing accommodation in the post-COVID era.

There is a modest fee for the QIT scheme, this will get you access to their guidance and specimen documentation together with an inspection by an assessor.

To be eligible for the AA scheme, establishments signing up must meet the AA’s key criteria:

  • Supply evidence of a risk assessment document.
  • Provide clear evidence that relevant safety procedures and measures are in place.
  • Showing that staff training has occurred.

In addition, this free scheme requires completion of an online self-assessment and a sign up to the Covid Confident Charter, a code of conduct that will include a commitment to update procedures and measures as guidelines change, and to submitting to future audits as required.

The “We’re Good To Go” industry standard mark is a self-assessment scheme that has been designed by VisitEngland in partnership with the national tourist organisations Tourism Northern Ireland, VisitScotland and Visit Wales to provide a ‘ring of confidence’ for all sectors of the tourism industry, as well as reassurance to visitors that businesses have clear processes in place and are following industry and Government COVID-19 guidance on cleanliness and social distancing.

High Standards in Holiday Letting  

We recognise responsible holiday let owners have high standards regarding the cleanliness and presentation of their letting properties. Similar applies to complying with legislation and regulations relevant to holiday letting. For example, reviewing fire risk assessments, ensuring electrics are safe, gas appliances and boilers are serviced and certified as gas safe, all form part of a rolling plan.

Duty of Care towards visitors and guests

You will also understand your duty of care towards all visitors to your property and ensure that it is as safe as you can reasonably make it. This includes taking reasonable steps to protect and maintain the property, prevent damage or injury and comply with laws, by-laws or regulations. Clearly in a post-Covid world the duty of care extends to taking reasonable precautions to minimise the risk of the virus being spread from one group of guests to another. Hence the importance of adopting relevant protocols such as those detailed in the Covid-19 Holiday Let Cleaning Guidance.

What do the self-catering Covid-19 cleaning guidelines cover?   

Bodies representing all aspects of the hospitality and tourism sectors, including those who represent self-catering, have devised specific sector guidance to support reopening following the lockdown.

This includes guidance on:

  • Risk assessments
  • Risks of Legionella
  • PPE and Cleaning Equipment
  • Cleaning Protocols
  • Cleaning Checklists

Who compiled the cleaning guidance?

The Government Department responsible for Tourism, DCMS produced headline guidelines. The overall guide was prepared by UKHospitality and the self-catering sector information was provided to them through a collaboration between:

  • PASC UK (Professional Association of Self-Catering UK)
  • ASSC (Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers)
  • WASCO (Welsh Association of Self-Catering Operators)
  • Tourism Alliance
  • Wales Tourism Alliance
  • Scottish Tourism Alliance
  • Premier Cottages

We understand these guidelines will also be used by Visit England and The AA

Where can I download the guidance?

The cleaning guidance is reassuringly robust and free to access via The Professional Association of Self-caterers (PASC), follow the link below:

Adopting, documenting and following these or similar cleaning protocols will help fulfil your duty of care towards your holiday let guests and visitors. Each holiday letting property is unique, your risk assessment will be too.

For for further guidance on controlling the virus visit: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Not a Boshers client yet? We offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. If you need an insurance quote for your holiday let call us on 01237 429444. If we are closed use the quote form and we’ll be in touch during the next business day.

 

coronavirus hand hygiene

coronavirus hand hygiene In late January reports began to emerge of the presence of a potentially deadly virus in the city of Wuhan, China.  Since then the continued spread of Coronavirus (now clinically known as COVID 19) has shown no signs of abating, with more than 167,511 people across the world testing positive for the virus and the death toll rising to 6,606 (1000 16th March 2020).

To date (0900 on 16th March 2020) there have been just 1543 confirmed cases in the UK, so while it’s important not to panic, it’s vital to be vigilant to stop any potential spread of the virus in its tracks.

What is Coronavirus?

The World Health Organisation define Coronaviruses (CoV) as a family of viruses that can cause illness, ranging from the common cold to more severe conditions, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).  The COVID 19 strain detected in Wuhan is a newly found strain of this family of viruses, with the most commonly reported symptoms including a fever, cough and a shortness of breath.

Based on similar viruses, it’s predicted that these symptoms will appear within two to 14 days of exposure, which is why you may have seen on television and newspaper reports that individuals thought to have come into contact with the virus have been quarantined in the Wirral and Milton Keynes for a period of two weeks, in order to attempt to potentially prevent it spreading further.

What do you do if you’ve got guests visiting from Asia?

The UK Chief Medical Officers are advising anyone who has travelled to the UK from mainland China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau in the last 14 days and is experiencing cough, fever or shortness of breath to stay indoors and call NHS 111, even if symptoms are mild.

If you have guests that are visiting from these areas, it’s important that they’re aware of this procedure and that they know the NHS 111 number to call during their stay.

Other measures you can take

No matter if a virus is airborne or spread by human touch, there are a number of simple and easy steps you in make in your holiday home:

  • Introduce a hand sanitiser

You’ll notice that as soon as there’s any form of viral outbreak, whether it’s in an office, hospital or anywhere people congregate, the first measure put in place is the introduction of hand sanitiser — there’s a very good reason for this! Viruses can live on surfaces for long periods of time (some for as long as a week!), meaning that if someone infected touches an item such as a coffee cup or glass, the next person to touch it can catch the virus, even if it’s sometime later.

  • Make sure you have sanitiser in the hallway / entrance to your property

The entrance to your holiday home is most commonly the place that people will be touching things (think door handles) with unwashed hands. Stopping bugs and germs at the front door is the best way to make sure they don’t travel throughout your cottage.  

  • Damp clean all radiators and air vents

The warm and humid air found inside radiator vents can provide viruses with the perfect place to survive and thrive. When you clean these, make sure you use a damp cloth or cleaning item rather than a duster, which can very quickly send the virus airborne within your holiday home.

  • Make sure your changeover is thorough

The majority of holiday homes have a thorough changeover regime, however this time of year when less guests are booked into your holiday home provides an opportunity to have a review and update that checklist. Any surface that goes uncleaned is an opportunity for colds and other viruses to lurk!

For more information and daily updates on Coronavirus please visit:

Guidance for environmental cleaning in non-healthcare facilities exposed to Coronavirus visit:

What about loss of income and liability insurance – am I covered?

We have compiled a list of FAQ’s regarding Boshers holiday home insurance cover and coronavirus which you can read here:

If you would like to discuss specialist holiday home insurance for your property, please give our experienced team a call on 01237 429444.

washing machine recall

washing machine recallWhilst many of us spent mid-December enjoying and revelling in the run up to Christmas, for Whirlpool and their customers, things were seemingly going from bad to worse.

Having already been heavily criticised for their response to a fire risk in their tumble dryers (of which they sold more than five million over an 11 year period), they announced that they were going to be recalling 500,000 of their washing machines (branded as Hotpoint or Indesit) following the discovery of a fault with the door locking system that can cause overheating and risk of fire.  The announcement left many customers facing a potentially lengthy period without a washing machine in their holiday homes.

What is the fault and is it dangerous?

Whirlpool have explained that “When the heating element in the washing machine is activated, in very rare cases a component in the door lock system can overheat, which, depending on product features, can pose a risk of fire.”

The issue is said to be found in 20% of Hotpoint and Indesit washing machines sold since 2014, which in the UK accounts for approximately 519,000 units.

In terms of danger, this fault has led to seventy-nine fires to date, although none had been significant enough to cause more than minor damage or cause any serious injuries.

What do you do if you’ve got a Hotpoint or Indesit washing machine?

If you own a washing machine that you have purchased from one of the two brands mentioned (Hotpoint and Indesit) since 2014, it’s worth checking online to see if your machine is a part of their product recall.  You can do this on the link below:

You will only need the model and serial number of your appliance – found inside the door or on the back – to see if it is one of those affected. There is also a free helpline, open every day, available on 0800 316 1442

If you find your appliance is affected, to eliminate any risk, it should be unplugged and not used until it is repaired in your home by a trained engineer.

When will you get your machine back?

If your washing machine is being recalled, you will be able to choose between two options:

  • A comparable replacement washing machine provided free-of-charge
  • A free-of-charge in-home repair of your appliance

The company have yet to be drawn on how quickly washing machines will be repaired or replaced if found to have a fault, meaning that customers could be potentially waiting for months.  They have suggested in the interim period that the machine could be continued to be used at far less risk if only used at a cold temperature of a 20c cycle, which means that the heating element wouldn’t be activated.

If the washing machine in your holiday home is affected by the recall note this in your fire risk assessment and record what action you are taking to rectify the problem. By doing so you will be demonstrating good practice and duty of care towards your guests.

For more information on specialist holiday home insurance for your cottage please give our experienced team a call on 01237 429 444 and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.

quality assessments
quality assessments

‘Quality’; it’s something we all strive to achieve and love to enjoy.  In no other area is this truer than in the tourism sector; an abundance of choice combined with online reviews from sites such as TripAdvisor mean that the discerning guest has never been as well informed or full of expectation. 

So how do we communicate ‘quality’ in the face of such fierce competition? Where do people now place their trust in light of so many quality and awards logos?

We take a look at some of the quality assessment schemes for holiday lets and available to holiday homeowners aiming to highlight the efforts they put in to ensuring no stone or bed sheet is left unturned.

Quality in Tourism

Quality in Tourism are a well know independent business offering a wide range of assessment schemes, one of which gauges whether holiday accommodation is ‘Safe, Clean and Legal’. 

Whilst guests may expect the properties they stay in to be safe, the emergence of second room renters or the ‘sharing economy’ has meant that this isn’t always the case; it may surprise you to know that Airbnb’s own terms and conditions state that “Airbnb has no control over and does not guarantee the existence, quality, safety suitability or legality of any listing”. 

When you take into account there’s an estimated 100,000 Airbnb listings across the UK it’s never been more important to highlight that you are safe and meeting all legal legislation for your guests.

For more information please visit:

THE AA | Visit England | Visit Wales | Visit Scotland | Discover NI

All of the national tourism bodies across the UK now access holiday accommodation to the same criteria, providing potential guests with a perfect and easy to understand and compare the quality of properties they’re considering.  Each property is awarded with a rating from one to five stars, with the number of stars reflecting the facilities and overall quality of experience provided to guests.

Just like Quality in Tourism, Visit England offer a scheme that provides guests with confirmation that your property is safe, clean and legally compliant – you can find more information on this entry level scheme here:

You can also undertake their full self-catering assessment scheme which looks not only at your compliance and safety, but also your facilities, guest experience and a whole host of other factors. You can find more information on the self-catering scheme and information on how to apply here:

If your holiday cottage is in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, then you are able to apply and work through the similar assessment criteria via these links:

A trusted letting agent

Aside from the traditional quality assurance schemes, working with a trusted and experienced holiday letting agent in your area is another great way to communicate your quality self-catering accommodation.  More and more letting agents are beginning to conduct their own quality schemes and many are signing up to The Holiday Home Industry Code Of Practice, meaning they’ll only list your property once you meet all of their exacting standards. You’ll of course also benefit from their extra local knowledge and additional marketing reach too….

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. Need an insurance quote for your holiday let? Give us a call on 01237 429444 and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.

prevent bed bugs
prevent bed bugs

In the UK it’s fair to say that the majority of us don’t really get along with bugs or insects, so it’s also reasonable to add that we’d definitely not feel too comfortable with the idea of thousands of them being in our bed!

Unfortunately, that prospect is becoming more and more likely with a rise in bed bugs now starting to take hold in most parts of the country.  Whilst their name and popular opinion may suggest you’ll only find these critters in your bed, they’re actually happy to live in any area of the home that you spend plenty of time in. 

The reason?

They like humans as our skin is more exposed than our pets, meaning an easy and quick meal!

If you’re therefore thinking about the environment a bed bug could and would thrive in you’d be looking for somewhere that has a lot of people spending a lot of time.  Aside from our own homes, holiday cottages provide the perfect breeding ground for the bed bug, so here’s how you can prevent bed bugs in your holiday let and stop these creatures calling your holiday home their own.

De-clutter to reduce nesting spots

Bed bugs thrive in small places, nooks and crannies, so ensur that there’s as little clutter as possible for them to live and breed.  If they do begin breeding the average female is able to lay as many as 500 eggs in a lifetime.

Hoover the mattress on a regular basis

We wash and change the linen, but one thing we might not do quite as often is hoover the mattress.  Be sure to get into any lips or seams that the mattress has – as we’ve mentioned above, these smaller areas can be the ideal breeding ground for a bed bug.

Use protective covers on your mattresses and divan base

You can stop bed bugs infecting your bed by encasing your mattress and divan bed base in a plastic protective cover.  While you may already have a protective cover on your holiday home mattresses, adding one to your divan bed base will eliminate any additional hiding places.

Reduce the average age of your mattresses

The longer the mattress is there, the longer it has to become a playground for bed bugs. Replacing mattresses can be an expensive business, but once bed bugs have gotten into your bed, it’s extremely difficult to tell how many are in there, figure out exactly where they are, and get them out.

Vacuum carpets and rugs

If we’re working on the basis that a bed bug loves a small space to hide in then rugs and carpets are a dream for any wanting to take up residence in your holiday home.  Make sure you’re hoovering these on at least a weekly or more regular basis.

Using essential oils to prevent bed bugs

We might not like bugs, but it turns out that bugs don’t like essential oils! There are a number of scents that can repel bed bugs which include cinnamon, lemongrass, clove, peppermint, lavender, thyme, tea tree, and eucalyptus.  Add 6-10 drops of pure essential oil to a small spray bottle filled with ¼ cup of water and spray it around your holiday home.  Adding a few drops to a washing cycle has also been proven to help.

Conclusion

Don’t wait until you have a problem; the most effective treatment of bed bugs is to prevent them from arriving and breeding in your holiday home, so always make sure you’re taking the right action to stop that from ever happening.

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. Need an insurance quote for your holiday let? Give us a call on 01237 429444 and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.

bed bugs

No matter if you’re at home or on holiday, your bedroom should be a safe haven. Somewhere you can relax and recuperate after a long day at the beach, with the kids or simply going about your daily tasks.  Imagine how comfortable you’d feel if you knew that as soon as you slipped between your sheets, ready to enjoy some well-deserved shut-eye, you’d be surrounded by thousands of bugs eager to bite!

Let us introduce you to the ever-growing problem of bed bugs!

What exactly are bed bugs?

We’ve all heard of them, but contrary to their name and popular opinion, you won’t just find these little critters in your bed! They are often found in areas that people spend prolonged periods of time.  The sofa, aeroplanes and hotels or holiday homes are all potential destinations for a bed bug. 

Whilst they’re innocuous in size, the squeamish part of the bed bug comes from its diet.  They’re able to feed on the blood of any warm-blooded animal but have a particular liking for humans as we’re not quite a furry as the cats and dogs you’ll find in 44% of British homes.

When it’s time for dinner they inject the skin with their saliva in order to keep the blood from clotting, before adding anaesthetic to prevent the host from feeling the bite and moving.  All very well planned out!

The growth in bed bugs and the problems it poses

Unfortunately, there has been a massive growth in global bed bug levels since 2006, due in part to the fact that a female bug is able to lay as many as 500 eggs in a lifetime, but also because of increases in air travel and tourism which have made it easier for them to reach far flung places with relative ease.

British Airways reported problems in 2017 when passengers on a long-haul flight became infested by the bugs, with cabin crew refusing to work on the aeroplane causing a number of cancellations at the time.

Another reason we’ve experienced such a peak in numbers is also due to the use of insecticides. Continued usage within our homes has meant that they’ve been increasingly resistant to chemical treatments and we have instead created a type of ‘super bed bug’, unaffected by many more things than the original.

The sectors most effected by bed bugs

It’s not surprising that holiday homes, hotels and other tourism accommodation providers are often bearing the brunt of an increase in the population of bed bugs.  A high turnover of people throughout the year combined with many hours spent in a property can lead to something of a perfect storm for an infestation.  The key to success in term of dealing with bed bugs is early identification or even better, preventative measures. 

You can find out more about what you can do to avoid bed bugs becoming a part of your holiday home here:

The holiday home insurance implications

Some individuals have made personal injury insurance claims as the result of bed bug bites, with package holiday providers Tui and Thomas Cook both seeing a rise in claims. Although bites are usually painless, they will often cause skin irritation and inflammation, as well as severe itching, and produce an allergic reaction in some unlucky victims or children. Compensation has also been sought for associated losses, such as the enjoyment of the holiday itself which can increase the level of any claim. The best policy here is to prevent the issue before it arises by undertaking as many preventative procedures within your maintenance and cleaning policies, particularly in a time when negative online reviews can spread as quickly as those bed bugs.

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. Need an insurance quote for your holiday let? Give us a call on 01237 429444 and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.

In order to ensure self-catering properties are effectively meeting quality standards, the Holiday Home Association (HHA), which is the UK’s longest serving trade association for the self-catering holiday home industry, has launched an industry code of practice aimed at raising quality standards and provide potential guests with a level of assurance when booking privately owned self-catering accommodation.

The Holiday Home Industry Code of Practice (HHICOP) is a comprehensive set of guidelines that sets out standards in health and safety, marketing, accessibility, liability insurance, data protection and complaints procedures.

HHA chief executive Martin Sach said: “The self-catering industry in the UK has changed considerably over the last few years, with a much greater increase in the availability of properties, with more and more owners and managers joining the market.

“There are also many more distribution channels through which a guest can book a property and these developments, can at times, be confusing for guests who are increasingly looking for more assurance that what they book will indeed be a professionally run and fairly represented example of what they are looking for,” he added.

The HHICOP, which can be easily downloaded from the HHA website, has no cost associated with it and is available for both members and non-members of the HHA.

For more information on the Holiday Home Industry Code of Practice, visit The HHA website here. It covers topics of interest to holiday letting owners which include:

  • Health and Safety
  • Fire Safety
  • Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
  • Electrical Safety
  • Gas Safety
  • Legionella
  • Safety of Furniture and Furnishings
  • Employers’ and Public Liability Insurance

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. Need an insurance quote for your holiday let? Give us a call on 01237 429444.

Holiday Let fire Safety | Risks of halogen bulbs

Holiday Let fire Safety | Risks of halogen bulbsThe death of any child is always extremely tragic, and the case of a six-year-old who lost his life in a house fire last year has again highlighted the fatal consequences fire can have once it takes hold of a property. Riley Jake Jackson from Derbyshire died from “fire-related burns and carbon monoxide toxicity” after a bedside lamp had fallen over and the heat from the bulb caused the lampshade to ignite.

The bulb within the lamp was halogen and the recent inquest into Riley’s death has heightened attention on the potential danger of halogen light bulbs within homes. When considering holiday let fire safety, take into account the risks posed by halogen bulbs.

The difference between halogen and LEDs

The fundamental safety difference between halogen bulbs and LEDs is the potential temperatures the halogen bulbs can reach when on for a period of time. A halogen bulb can soar to temperatures of 200°c, whilst LEDs are usually less than half of this. The former can therefore quickly become a fire risk if it comes into contact with materials such as duvets, lampshades and curtains.

Weren’t halogen bulbs banned?

Halogen bulbs were banned from sale across the European Union in September 2018 on environmental, rather than safety, grounds. However, retailers are allowed to sell remaining stocks and there are no restrictions on them being used.

The benefits of using LEDs in your holiday home

  1. Longer life – LED lights are proven to have a greater lifespan than their incandescent or halogen counterparts. It is estimated that an LED light will last for 11 years of continuous use.  That’s 20 years with your light on for eight hours a day, and a lot less spent on new bulbs every year.
  2. Save on your bills – LED lighting operates at around 80-90% efficiency, compared to the 20% efficiency of its traditional counterpart.
  3. Eco-friendly – LED lights contain no toxic materials and, for that reason, are usually recyclable. Given the longer lifespan, one LED light can save the materials and production of 25 traditional bulbs. In the average home that adds up to in the region of 250-350 bulbs!

General Lamp Safety

  • Always use a lampshade on lamps across your holiday home
  • Place lamps on a stable surface in all rooms
  • Ensure wires and cables are neatly arranged and not stretched across the floor
  • Consider where lamps are in children’s bedrooms and whether they are near to combustible materials, such as bed linen, curtains or other potentially flammable materials
  • Always keep the immediate area around a lamp clear
  • Consider switching to cooler LED bulbs

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. Need an insurance quote for your holiday let? Give us a call on 01237 429444.

 

electrical safety checks

electrical safety checksThe government has recently announced (on 29th January 2019) that they intend to introduce new mandatory five-year electrical safety checks for privately rented homes throughout the UK. This move will require new electrical safety legislation to be drawn up. It comes after years of campaigning by consumer and safety groups following a number of tragic and fatal cases.

What do the electrical safety checks changes cover?

The intended changes cover two distinct areas:

1. That electrical checks must be carried out on privately rented homes every five years

2. That the person carrying out the checks is subject to meeting the minimum qualification and competence to do so. With the responsibility of employing a competent person falling to the landlord themselves.

Both measures are geared towards reducing the risks for those living in privately rented accommodation. The Minister for Housing and Homelessness Heather Wheeler MP explained; “These new measures will reduce the risk of faulty electrical equipment, giving people peace of mind and helping to keep them safe in their homes.

“It will also provide clear guidance to landlords on who they should be hiring to carry out these important electrical safety checks.”

When are these new measures likely to come into force?

With Brexit negotiations currently dominating proceedings in Westminster, it is conceivable that there may be some delay. Therefore the timing of the introduction of this new legislation is uncertain. However the government has indicated that developments ‘will be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows.’

It is anticipated that once passed, the legislation will be introduced in a series of transitional phases over two years. For the first year, the regulations will apply to new private tenancies. In the following year, they will be extended to all existing private lets. Landlords have six months to become familiar with the new requirements before regulations eventually come into force.

Failure to comply will lead to potentially hefty fines.

What does this mean for holiday homeowners?

It is currently unclear as to whether this new legislation will apply to holiday home owners in addition to those letting their properties under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST). Regardless of any specific inclusion, it does highlight the need for cottage owners to remain vigilant when it comes to electrical safety. Holiday homeowners have a duty of care to ensure their holiday home is safe for both guests, visitors and employees. It has long been seen as good practice to have your holiday home electrical circuit tested every 5 years.

Please do check your records to ensure that your own electrical circuits and systems have all been checked and professionally tested within a reasonable period, or arrange for a competent and qualified person to do so as soon as possible.

For more information on electrical safety in your holiday home please take a look at our helpful blog posts:

When holiday letting your second home to paying guests it’s essential to take advice on suitable insurance. Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to holiday letting owners across the UK. Need an insurance quote for your holiday letting apartment? Please give us a call on 01237 429444.

hot tub legionella

hot tub legionellaWith longer evenings and the busy peak season fast approaching can there be anything better than the thought of relaxing in a hot tub, taking in the fresh air and watching the sunset over a beautiful coast or countryside view?

Holiday homes with a hot tub are proven to secure more bookings. However they do bring additional risks including those associated with Legionella. As the owner it’s your responsibility to ensure that your guests enjoy a healthy and safe environment. This includes being free of diseases caused by the Legionella bacteria.

It’s the less glamorous side of having a hot tub at your holiday let; with water comes Legionella bacteria which can be extremely serious and even deadly. Whilst most of us will have heard of Legionnaires disease many don’t understand the risks. However, with a death associated with a holiday lodge resort in England and another outbreak in a UK-based holiday chalet it must be taken seriously.

What is Legionnaires disease? 

Legionella pneumophila is bacterium which is very common in natural water sources such as rivers and reservoirs. It can also be found in water coolers, ice machines, hot and cold water systems, shower heads and hot tubs. Legionellosis is the collective name for the diseases caused by the bacterium including Legionnaires disease which is a pneumonia type illness.  You can catch it by breathing in tiny droplets of water containing the bacteria that cause the infection. This makes your hot tub a potentially perfect breeding ground for the bacteria if it’s not properly managed.

How do you control the risks associated with Legionella?

So what procedures and processes should you have in place for your hot tub to ensure that the risk of infection is minimised and your guests are able to enjoy their relaxing evening soak?

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Guidance

The HSE has produced a very thorough document on the controls and procedures you should have in place as a hot tub owner. We’ve included a link to this document below. If you’re not already, it’s worth familiarising yourself with all of the processes mentioned in order to ensure your hot tub is kept in a clean and sterile condition throughout the summer and beyond.

  • HSE advice on the control of legionella in your hot tub – to download click here.

Some key points in maintaining your hot tub

  • Conducting a risk assessment

Although these can seem like even more paperwork for your holiday cottage they’re vitally important. They help you understand how to address the risks. When it comes to your hot tub risk assessments should be undertaken by a competent person. This can be you as the owner, so long as you fully understand the system, associated risks and legislation.

It’s important to highlight that even if you don’t undertake the assessment yourself, you’re still responsible for it as the holiday homeowner, so it’s essential that it’s thorough and detailed.

  • Regular monitoring

The risk assessment is only ever the first step in the process; it’s important that you put in place processes that minimise the risks faced by your guests, and that these are then regularly reviewed by a competent person in order to ensure they’re effective.

As with your risk assessment, you’re ultimately responsible for these ongoing measures, so even if you do live a good distance from your home it is worth having a regular check yourself to make sure that your instructions are being delivered and implemented to the standard they need to be.

  • Effective training

To reduce the risk of Legionnaires disease and other infections it’s important that everyone sings from the same hymn sheet. Do you outsource the cleaning and maintenance of your holiday home and hot tub? Then you’ll need to ensure that the cleaner or company you’re using are: familiar with the procedures that you have in place, the installers guidance on cleaning and maintaining your hot tub, along with any other information they need to reduce risks effectively.

Inadequate management, communication or instruction are often the source of problems when it comes to delegating tasks like this, so make sure there’s clear and written guidance on what needs to be completed, with reviews taken on a regular basis and increased in frequency if a new cleaner or individual is made responsible for these tasks.

Our holiday home insurance includes cover for Legionellosis 

We believe in giving our holiday homeowners the broadest level of cover possible. This is why we include cover against accidental bodily injury caused by Legionellosis. We recently increased the public liability extension for Legionellosis liability to provide £1m of cover. This applies to any one period of insurance and includes associated legal fees.

For more information about our specialist holiday home insurance please give our experienced team a call on 01237 429444.