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Covid-19 Holiday Let Cleaning Guidance

Covid-19 Holiday Let Cleaning GuidanceIn response to the Covid-19 pandemic, 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. The Covid-19 Holiday Let Cleaning Guidance protocols were recently updated (July 2021) and will be kept under review.

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.

 

reduce plastic

reduce plasticWe all know that we should be using less plastic in order to create less plastic waste; in the past 13 years the world has made more plastic than it did in the previous half-century (University of Cambridge) with 350 million tonnes created every 12 months, 8 million of which is making its way into our oceans and causing irrevocable damage to sea creatures and the habitats in which they live.

No matter if it’s taking our own bags at the supermarket, drinking from a reusable coffee cup or making our way down to a two-minute beach clean, we all need to do our bit as the cumulative impact of such small changes can be massive.

Here are five easy-to-do plastic-free changes you could make when cleaning your holiday letting property and reduce plastic waste.

Stop those plastic microfibres

Microfibres are tiny strands of plastic commonly found on clothes and bed linen that shed off synthetic fabrics like polyester, rayon and nylon. Scientists have discovered that they are one of the main causes of plastic waste pollution in the ocean.

The most common reason these fibres make their way into water streams and the ocean is of course, during the washing process.  Solutions such as the Guppyfriend can stop these fibres from leaving the washing machine, considerably reducing the amount of plastic leaving your holiday home with minimal effort.

Reduce the number of disposable wipes and cloths

In order to reduce the number of disposable items you use during the cleaning process, consider using washable cotton cloths and flannels.  You can even use old clothes such as t-shirts that would otherwise be thrown away!

This will ensure that you’re not chucking away a large amount of cleaning materials at the end of every changeover, while potentially saving a considerable amount of money.

Move to a natural loofah scrubber

Rather than spending hours and hard elbow grease scrubbing those pans with a scouring brush or wire wool, only to throw it straight into the bin once you’re done, consider using one of the growing number of biodegradable scrubbers on the market. Popping it in your compost is much more friendly for the environment!

Have you tried bicarbonate of soda?

Bicarbonate of soda is a powerful natural deodoriser and can be used to remove odours from fridges, carpets and upholstery throughout a holiday home.

For fridges, place a shallow bowl of bicarbonate of soda on the shelf and leave until the odour has been reduced or removed.  When it comes to your sofas and carpets, sprinkle on the affected area and leave for a few hours before returning with the hoover!

The great thing about bicarbonate of soda? You can buy it in a cardboard box, so no need for any plastic at all!

Vinegar for window cleaning?

Whilst we might be more familiar with vinegar on our indulgent fish and chips, it can actually perform a number of useful purposes around our home.  For example, white vinegar can be used for removing limescale from kettles – all you need to do is fill with a solution of one-part water to one-part white vinegar and leave overnight – return in the morning to find that the limescale can be remove easily. Just like bicarbonate of soda, it can also be purchased in glass bottles and is free from any plastic!

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

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.

holiday let housekeeping

holiday let housekeeping

When it comes to your holiday home you want everything to be perfect for your guests arrival. Central to achieving this are those little things, many of which will come under the cleaning, cleanliness and housekeeping banner; VisitBritain believe ‘housekeeping is probably the single most important part of the holiday home letting process’. It’s also the area that prompts more customer complaints than any other throughout UK holiday homes.

So how can you ensure that your standards are never compromised even at this time of year when the sheer volume of visitors calling your cottage their home leads to greater pressure on your changeover periods?

We’ve been taking a look at the latest VisitEngland guidance, and put together some top tips of our own to ensure everything is as it should be when it comes to your housekeeping, whether you carry it out yourself or hire a contract cleaning company.

There should be no evidence of previous guests

There’s nothing worse than arriving at a holiday home to find the remnants of the previous occupants. Make sure all bins (not forgetting those in the bathroom) are emptied, any leftover food is removed from the fridge and that there aren’t any crumbs left around the toaster or other cooking appliances. Its particularly important to pay attention to the kitchens and bathrooms, and it is vital that the beds are clean with fresh linen and free from finger prints on the headboard or any surrounding areas.

Also consider the products you’re using; you want things to be incredibly clean, but not smell like they’ve walked into a sterile environment.

These are all common sense things, but getting the basics right here really is the key to success.

Find a good and reliable housekeeping company

Cleaning can become an arduous and time consuming task for any holiday homeowner. If you’ve not realistically got the time to undertake it yourself, it may well be useful to outsource the responsibility.

Finding the right person or company to take on the housekeeping is the most important factor here; if you’ve got a holiday home letting agent then chat to them about who they’d recommend as they’re likely to have the benefit of local knowledge. Also consider having a chat with other cottage owners in the area to find who they’re using. Recommendations are worth their weight in gold when it comes to finding the right person or company, and they in return will become a real asset to your cottage.

Keeping on top of quality control

Most quality holiday homes will have a checklist to ensure that cleaning tasks are never missed, no matter how busy things get. If you’ve not got a cleaning checklist together then it’s certainly worth creating one and essential if you’re handing the cleaning duties on to a third party or new staff throughout the season.

It’s not just about the cleaning!

First impressions are everything, so make sure you pay attention to the overall maintenance of your holiday letting property. If the first thing your guests will see is the garden, make sure it is well-kept and tidy, paying particular attention to decking areas. Ensure that all of your furniture inside and out are fit for purpose and haven’t become worn or damaged over time (particularly prevalent during the busiest periods).

Perhaps give some thought to the contents of your kitchens cupboards. Do your guests have all of the right utensils and crockery? Have you left enough plates for the amount of guests you are expecting? It’s useful to write up a checklist. This will help you walk around your property and make periodicy checks. Elements such as lightbulbs, door handles, stair carpets, dripping taps and batteries for electrical remotes could otherwise be overlooked.

For further tips regarding housekeeping and changeovers please click here: Holiday Let Changeovers | A good time to make additional checks

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. For information on how we can help and support your holiday home business call us on 01237 429444.

Natural cleaners. Vinegar, baking soda, salt and lemon.The benefits of using natural cleaning products around your holiday home

As a holiday homeowner what factors do you consider when selecting a cleaning product for your cottage?

Are they products that you’ve always used and perhaps see no need in changing?

Is it the latest and brightest packaging on the supermarket shelf that catches your eye?

Maybe the option that promises to save you time and make the most stubborn of chores easier and quicker to manage?

Whilst there may be a vast range of reasons for using the products you do, one unifying factor many of these cleaning solvents will have in common is the inclusion of strong chemicals that can be potentially harmful to your visitors and young children in particular.

With the growing list of ‘green’ and ‘natural’ alternatives to traditional bleaches we explore the potential benefits of going green when it comes to cleaning your holiday home.

Chemicals in the air and on surfaces

Once your holiday home has been cleaned with chemical based products they can remain present in the air and on the surfaces of your cottage for some time.

This can lead to new guests inhaling detrimental fumes and also enduring the smells that come with them during the busy summer period when changeover times can be extremely short.

The residue of these chemicals can also remain on surfaces and worktops and have been known to cause skin irritation, rashes and in extreme cases allergic reactions.

Natural products reduce these risks for your visitors and are often accompanied by a natural and more pleasant aroma, negating the need for even more products such as air fresheners to be deployed.

Pollution

We live in a country with unbounded natural beauty.  We insure and are lucky to be able to visit a vast number of properties situated in areas of outstanding natural beauty, with breathtaking views and unrivalled surrounds.

Cleaning products including chemicals such as Ammonia can not only effect soil pH levels but also cause the eutrophication of water when dispersed into waterways.

Using natural products can lessen the impact that our properties have on the environment and surrounding area in which we visit and live.

Antibacterial Wipes

When sourcing cleaning products and agents for the home or for a holiday cottage we can sometimes naturally gravitate toward the word ‘antibacterial’.

After all, these are the products that reduce the risk of bacteria remaining on surfaces or around your home that could be of risk to your visitors?

Recent American research by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has suggested there is no significant difference between an antibacterial soap and a natural soap in eradicating bacteria and also suggested that repeated use of ‘antibacterial’ goods can actually promote bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

Cost savings

The subject of cost and any potential saving will vary from property to property.

However, research has also shown that the wearing impact natural cleaning products have on surfaces such as worktops are much less than strong chemical substances and therefore the period between replacements can be increased proportionately.

Using natural products, where appropriate, around the holiday home can also reduce the need for expensive off the shelf cleaning solutions.

Green Marketing

More and more visitors are now seeking holidays that are sustainable, green or eco-friendly.  The level to which holiday cottages answer the needs of the growing number of ‘green tourists’ is becoming an increasingly fundamental aspect in visitor decision making; the potential difference between staying in one location from another.

Using natural products rather than chemicals can add to the marketing of your property and the message that you’re doing everything you can to give them the premium holiday they desire, whilst also protecting the environment around you.

Boshers are specialist providers of insurance for holiday homes and cottages. For more information on how a specialist insurer can help and support your holiday letting business please give us a call on 01237 429444.