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registration scheme for short term lets
registration scheme for short term lets

Feeling safe is a basic human need and something we should all be able to experience in our daily lives; we should feel safe when we’re at home, when we’re in the office or when we’re on holiday wanting to relax.

As a holiday homeowner, you’ll no doubt put much of your effort into the latter; ensuring that as soon as your guests arrive at your property, they are kept safe through any number of procedures and processes including fire risk assessments, gas safety certification, public and employers’ liability insurance and electrical checks

AirBnB terms and conditions

If we contrast that with the latest AirBnB terms and conditions they indicate:

“Airbnb has no control over and does not guarantee the existence, quality, safety suitability or legality of any listing”

Where safety for guests was once a given, the rapid growth of peer-to-peer accommodation providers such as AirBnB has far exceeded our own legislative response to its emergence, leaving an ever-growing unregulated market of peer-to-peer accommodation providers welcoming paying guests into their homes with sometimes minimal or no safety processes in place.

The size of that market is ever-growing; every region in the UK now has at least 2,000 listings on the platform and in London, the number is around 64,000. This places the UK as the fifth largest geography for Airbnb globally, when calculated by number of listings.

So how do we even the playing field in order to safeguard our guests and the reputation of the UK as a place to which people can travel and rightly feel safe, no matter where they book?

All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Industry

Last year, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Industry issued a report on the ‘sharing economy’.  It recommended the introduction of a low-cost registration scheme for short term lets and holiday home accommodation providers, which would look to level the playing field of regulation and enforcement of those welcoming paying guests.  The scheme would in turn would create a national database and allow regulators to do their job in ensuring the safety of visitors, no matter on what platform they’d booked.

In April of this year, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan co-signed a letter to the secretary of state for housing, communities and local government that outlined “the law is near-impossible for councils to enforce” and that “the time has come for a light-touch registration system”.  The letter was also signed by AirBnB.

Hadi Moussa, General Manager for Air BnB in the UK and Northern Europe indicated “A clear and simple registration system will help authorities get the information they need to regulate our industry effectively.”

The general consensus for this potential mandatory registration scheme for short term lets to date has been that it must be either low cost or free to register in order to achieve the necessary drive for sign ups.  If it does come to fruition, then any move to ensure that guests are kept safe and the gap in regulation between holiday homeowners and those listing properties through the ‘sharing economy’ is lessened can only be a good thing. You can read more about recent calls for increased regulation for AirBnB here:

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.

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 Outside Lighting

It’s time to consider how well you illuminate the way to your holiday letting property with outside lighting. With British Summer Time at an end for another year the mornings and nights will soon be much darker. So if you’re welcoming guests during the winter months, ask yourself how well-lit is the exterior of your holiday home and the paths that lead to it?   Holiday Let Outside Lighting

Reducing the risks of slips, trips and falls with outside lighting

It’s important that all paths, steps and approaches to the entrance to your holiday home are illuminated sufficiently. Carefully positioning outside lighting will reduce the risks of slips, trips and falls.

During the winter months’ guests may not only have to deal with arriving or departing whilst it’s dark, they may also have to endure the cold, ice or rain that often accompanies the great British winter.

Slippery surfaces can become real hazards once the sun has gone down, and if you combine this with the fact that your guests won’t be familiar with the layout of your cottage and the approaches that lead to it, it further emphasises the importance of lighting these clearly for them to follow.

Should a guest trip and fall when approaching your holiday home at night, any injury claim will be impossible to defend if your paths and steps are not well lit.

Making things easy – lighting your key safe

The majority of holiday homes will have a key safe. They provide your guests convenient access no matter what time they’re arriving. You should ideally have a light in this area so guests are able to easily see the key code. There’s nothing worse than trying to find some sort of light, whether via a smart phone or a torch they keep in the car. Especially when all they want to do is get in, start their holiday and relax after a long drive.

Making sure they’re at the right place

Lighting the name or number of your property will give your guests confidence they’ve arrived at the right place. With our ever extending reliance on sat-navs, this can be an important feature if they’re arriving at night when they can’t fully see the exterior of the cottage. An added bonus if your cottage is in the countryside when a postcode may cover several different roads.

Options for reducing electricity bills on lighting

Whilst LED lights have become increasingly common within the interior and exterior of holiday homes to reduce potential energy bills (research has indicated they can save you up to £200 per year in an average household by being 10 times more efficient than their candescent counterparts), there are a number of solutions that could cut the costs of external lighting on your holiday home.

If you’re looking at the pathways to your property have you consider solar powered lights. These can be quick and easy to install, cost effective to buy and should still emit light in the darkest days of winter. However be sure to purchase good quality solar lights that will stand up to the job.

Looking to light that key safe? Consider motion censored lighting. Whilst there is a cost, it should soon pay for itself. Lighting triggered by motion can also scare off potential intruders looking to gain entry to your holiday home.

Maintaining your outside lighting

Ensure that all of your bulbs and outside lighting are regularly checked. This may be by you, your housekeeper, caretaker or whomever is responsible for the continued upkeep of your property. Whilst it’s only a small job, a faulty bulb can end up on a busy to-do list. Therefore ensure that as soon as there is an issue it is quickly resolved. This will make life easier for your guests and make their stay safer. It may even save you a costly holiday home insurance liability claim.

Boshers offer specialist holiday home and property insurance to holiday cottage owners across the country. For more information on our policies have a look around Boshers website. For a quote or to ask any question please give our team a call on 01237 429444.

Holiday Letting Guest Safety

Holiday Letting Guest SafetyAs a holiday homeowner there will be plenty for you to think about; how are bookings looking? Which letting agent do you use? Is the cottage in need of repairs and when does the next tax return need to be submitted by?

With such a long list, one thing you’ll need to keep at the very top is holiday letting guest safety. Your commitment to providing your guests with a stay that is not only enjoyable, but also safe is paramount.

Staying up to date with latest legislation changes set by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is essential for anyone in the industry in order to protect themselves and their guests.

We’ve highlighted some of the key areas of holiday letting guest safety you need to be considering that will help you understand your obligations.

Gas safety – what do you need to do?

There have been more than 200 reported gas safety incidents in the UK over the past year, with 40 people tragically losing their lives as the result of the poisonous, odourless and silent killer that is carbon monoxide.

The consequences of getting gas safety wrong can be loss of life so it’s essential you’re doing the following:

  • You are now legally required to have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms fitted within your holiday home. These should be installed in rooms in which there are gas boilers, fires or any fuel burning appliance or open fire.
  • Your gas boiler and any other gas appliances must, by law, be serviced and have a gas safety check carried out by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer every year.

If you are a letting agent you should obtain Gas Safe Check certificate from the holiday homeowner annually to ensure this has been carried out and that the property is safe for guests. For further information on gas safety read our blog post – Holiday Home Gas Safety

Up to date Gas Safety Check Certificate(s) or a copy should be kept in the holiday home’s Welcome Folder Information Pack to give guests peace of mind.

Preventing fire – what do you need to do?

Fire Safety Law (known as Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005) was introduced in 2006 and makes holiday homeowners responsible for taking measures to protect guests from the risks of fire.

  • As a holiday homeowner you are required to conduct a fire risk assessment, improve fires safety measures as a result of any issues highlighted in the assessment, and keep the risks and measures under review. For more information on how to conduct a fire risk assessment please read our blog – Fire Safety Law for Holiday Letting
  • Despite 88% of fires being accidental, it is vital that you remain vigilant in reducing any potential risks in your holiday home and this should extend to your furniture. Regulations, whilst largely focussed on manufacturers, now extends to the ‘supplier of furniture acting in the course of business’, which of course applies to the owner of the holiday home.  For full information on the requirements you need to meet please read our blog post –  Fire Safety of Furniture and Furnishings in your Holiday Home

Electrical equipment

Over the years our homes and cottages have become awash with electrical appliances and devices. They bring with them convenience, but also an on-going maintenance task. So what do you need to do in terms of checking and replacing your appliances?

  • You have a legal obligation to ensure that any electrical appliance in your holiday home with the potential to cause injury is kept in a safe condition for your visitors to use.
  • Conduct regular visual checks of your appliances, or if you live a good distance from your holiday home, ensure someone is given responsibility for this task.
  • Remember that not all faults will be visible. Whilst there is no legal requirement for you to undertake Portable Appliance Testing (PAT), it is good practice and will help to demonstrate a general duty of care if these checks are carried out in conjunction with regular visual checks.
  • If a visitor reports a potential fault with an electrical appliance ensure it is removed from the holiday home until such time that it can be examined by a professional, or replaced as required.

You may also find the following posts for holiday home owners of interest:

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. For more information on how a specialist insurer can help and support your holiday home business, please give us a call on 01237 429444.

Please note that this article on holiday letting guest safety is only intended as an overview of what you need to be doing in each of these areas.  For further information please contact the relevant authority and read up on all procedures and requirements.

 

Guidance for owners of holiday cottages with a pets corner

Girl and Baby GoatsBritish agriculture has seen unbelievable change since the turn of the century. During that time somewhere in the region of 60 – 80% of farms have diversified in totality or looked to new avenues in order to sustain incomes and grow revenues.

From farm shops to organic produce or a multitude of other trades, farmers have utilised their buildings and land to their advantage. Many now turn their hand to the provision of accommodation in the form of holiday cottages and combine their agricultural roots with the hospitality sector by introducing a pets corner.

This experience can be particularly attractive for visiting families looking to give their children a slice of our glorious countryside.  The ability to feed a goat, to pet a young lamb in spring or learn more about a curious looking alpaca brings visitors in their droves to diversified farms across the country every year.

Combining your holiday cottages with a pets corner brings considerations about health and safety; creating the best possible environment in which children and adults alike are able to enjoy their break whilst minimising the chances of risk.

Whether you’re a holiday cottage with a few sheep at the end of the garden or a working farm it’s important to consider the following areas:

The risk: Micro-organisms

Animals naturally carry a range of micro-organisms which can be transmitted to humans. Some that you will have heard and be more familiar with such as E. coli can have a detrimental effect on health, causing a range of ailments and symptoms.

For this reason it’s important that you have control measures in place to minimise the risk of these organisms being transmitted to guests and causing illness. These measures should be regularly reviewed for effectiveness, with changes implemented as developments are made and required.

Decide on where you will offer access

Access to animals should be restricted and clearly signposted. Establish where guests will be able to see and visit stock and how you’ll prevent them from potentially accessing restricted areas, for example through fencing or warning signs.

Selecting your Routes

Contact with an environment contaminated with animal faeces is a key cause of the transmittance of micro-organisms with humans. For this reason you should if possible avoid directing visitors across tracks regularly used by stock and farm vehicles.  If this is unavoidable ensure that routes are cleaned and cleared on a regular and agreed basis.

Choosing the right animals

Animals that will be in contact with the public should be chosen carefully; stock that is young, pregnant, under stress or unfamiliar with dealing with people will be more likely to excrete mico-orgnisms and heighten the potential risk of transfer.

Keeping hands clean

Keeping hands clean is essential in minimising risks. Washing facilities should be readily available to visitors of all ages when leaving any area in which they have been touching animals, or could have come into immediate contact with them.  Signage should be in place to direct visitors to these facilities, along with information on the importance of using them.

Soap dispensers must be checked and refilled regularly. Whilst the frequency of checks will depend on the number of visitors you have, as a minimum these should be accessed at the beginning of each day the site is open.

The use of signage

Communicating the measures you’ve put in place with your visitors is vitally important. Information should be provided to guests on potential risks to health, precautions taken to minimise those risks and their own obligations in minimising risks (e.g. washing their hands).

Signage should be used to:

  • Clearly communicate designated routes, including those areas that are not open to the public.
  • Highlight the location and importance of using hand wash after any contact with animals. This should include stating the use of cleansing or anti bacterial wipes is not a substitute for proper hand washing.
  • Inform visitors to wash their hands prior to eating or using other facilities such as play areas, swimming pools or returning to their accommodation.
  • Establish areas that no petting or contact with animals is permitted

For full information on the health and safety advice and requirements please refer to The Industry Code of Practice “Preventing or Controlling Ill Health from Animal Contact at Visitor Attractions” which has been updated and is available to download here:

If you have a pets corner as an attraction for guests staying at your holiday cottages be sure to inform and take advice from your specialist holiday cottage complex insurance advisers.

For further information and a quotation for your holiday home insurance call our specialist team on 01237 429444.

This article has been created as generic guidance for holiday home, cottage and holiday cottage complex owners and does not constitute legal or insurance advice. If you have any questions relating to health and safety management and the provision of a pets corner at your holiday cottages, you should discuss them with your broker or insurer.

Slips, trips and falls

Slips, trips and falls

Slips, trips and falls

The old adage, “prevention is better than cure” is never truer than when applied to limiting the risk of slips and trips in your holiday home letting property. As holiday home insurance specialists we see public liability claims made by guests and occasionally employees all too often.

Slips and trips are one of the most common causes of of non-fatal major injuries to employees and they also account for over half of all reported accidents to members of the public.

Limiting the risk of slips and trips in your holiday home

All employers and anyone who is in control of premises visited regularly by members of the public should assess and manage the risk of slips and trips at their premises. Slips and trips can result in injuries which may lead to compensation awards that can often be substantial.

Health and Safety legislation affecting holiday home owners

All employers have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their employees and also those not in their employment at their holiday home premises under the Health and Safety at work Act 1974. Subsequent regulations describe te duty to carry out risk assessments and set out specific responsibilities with respect to ensuring a safe work place.

Those in control of premises also have duties under the Occupiers Liability Act 1984. This is defined as follows and clearly extends to control of slip and trip hazards:-

“A duty to take such care as in the circumstance of the case is reasonable to see that the visitor will be reasonably safe in using the premises for the purposes for which he is invited or permitted by the occupier to be there.”

Key questions you should ask yourself about your holiday home

  • Are the internal floor surfaces of your holiday home in good condition?
  • Do you regularly inspect your floors to ensure that they remain in good condition? Have a procedure to ensure that damage is repaired promptly.
  • Have you secured floor coverings such as rugs, mats and carpets?
  • Do you have handrails securely fitted as an aid for climbing steps and stairs?
  • Is your lighting fit for purpose?
  • Have you installed suitable show screens or curtains to minimise water spillage on shower room or bathroom floors?
  • Have you removed tripping hazards such as trailing cables?
  • Are cleaning substances chosen to reduce risk of slippery surfaces?
  • Are the external paths, driveways, patios and steps in good condition, free of defects such as unevan, loose or broken paving bricks, slabs or potholes?
  • Do you have a regular cleaning rota to ensure that your paths are cleared of leaves, lichen and moss which can become slippery when wet?

Good holiday home housekeeping, risk assessments and key action steps

Good holiday home housekeeping is the first and the most important method of preventing falls due to slips and trips. Make it easy for your housekeeper and guests to report any defects within your holiday let and have them rectified as soon as possible. Without good housekeeping practices any other preventative measures will never be fully effective.

Risk assessments for holiday home slips and trips should be carried out to identify possible hazards.

  • Look for slip and trip hazards
  • Decide who might be harmed and how
  • Consider the risks
  • Are there suitable controls in place?
  • If not, determine new/improved control and implement
  • Record your findings as this goes a long way to demonstrate your positive attitude to Health & Safety in the event of a claim against you
  • Review on a regular basis

Key action steps for holiday home owners

  • Ensure that new flooring surfaces are installed so that they are, as far as is practicable, free from tripping and slipping hazards
  • Conduct routine inspections to ensure that all surfaces are free from slip and trip hazards
  • Ensure that rotine maintenance is carried out to remedy defects
  • Implement a sound housekeeping programme

References:-

Preventing slips, trips and falls at work INDG 225 – Free

Workplace health, safety and welfare INDG 244 – Free Available from HSE Books

A quality holiday home insurance policy such as that offered by Boshers for UK holiday lets will include employers and public liability cover to indemnify you against your legal liability to pay damages and legal costs arising out of bodily injury to employees or accidental injury to guests or other visitors to your holiday let. However limiting the risk of slips and trips in your holiday home through prevention is always better than cure!

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Thank you for reading limiting the risks of slips and trips in your holiday home.

For further advice and information on specialist holiday home insurance for UK holiday let properties visit www.boshers.co.uk/holiday-home-insurance