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Fire safety concerns over short-term let accommodation

25 April 2018

THE NATIONAL Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has expressed concerns over fire safety standards in short-term let premises.

NFCC says this is mainly due to Fire and Rescue Services (FRS) not being aware of how many are operating in local areas, which makes it very difficult to assess potential risk.

Currently the number of such hosted properties is unknown and NFCC says that while it’s not aware of an increase in incidents, it is essential hosts are doing everything they can to ensure their properties are safe and meet fire safety standards. NFCC also pointed out that fire safety legislation applies to all premises with paying guests; if you offer overnight accommodation and people are paying to stay in your property, fire safety law applies.

These properties can range from ‘adhoc’ lettings where people open their homes as a ‘one off’ letting once or twice a year, through to permanent lettings all year round; it is the latter which is of concern. All fire and rescue services have their own risk-based Inspection programme and it is likely they would want to include permanently hosted properties on to this. Without this knowledge of properties essentially operating as a bed or breakfast or hotel, it is almost impossible to carry out an inspection or as a minimum, give owners relevant advice to ensure their buildings are safe and measures are in place to protect their visitors.

If you own and let a home privately, the law states you must fit smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and have regular gas safety checks, but this currently does not apply to hosted properties.

NFCC wants to monitor these types of homes, which would help to identify if there are any potential risks or patterns. However, it is important to point out that, if fire and rescue services across the UK had to inspect all these properties, there would be an impact on the current resources available and fire services would need to inspect according to risk.

People who are letting their properties in this way – or thinking about doing so – should contact their local FRS to identify themselves and request fire safety advice to assist both themselves and people staying in their properties. Fire and rescue services want to help, ultimately to keep people safe. In addition, if people are planning to stay in one of these properties, we would encourage them to ask at the point of booking what measures the host has taken to ensure it is compliant with fire safety laws and to make a decision based on the information provided.

NFCC added that if there was a serious issue – certainly if there was a fire in a hosted property, the host and company would be subjected to the law and would be prosecuted in the same way any other bed and breakfast or hotel proprietor would be. It is essential hosts are made aware of this and fully understand this; they do not sit outside of the law.

It is important to point out that there are several hosting sites and we should not be highlighting one particular operator. In fact, NFCC has worked with Air BnB in the past to give fire safety advice which they have shared extensively. However, it is down to the hosts to ensure they are implementing the correct fire safety measures and advice to people staying in their properties.