Holiday lets


If you provide accommodation for paying guests such as:

  • using websites like AirBnB
  • or rent self-catering accommodation

this page has been designed to help you.  It can also be used by people who own:

  • small bed and breakfast (B&B's),
  • or have inns with rooms

to provide guidance on how to comply with the Regulatory Refrom (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service have adopted the ‘Do you have paying guests?’ guidance from the HM Government. It is used  to consider the adequacy of fire safety standards in these types of accommodation.

Does fire safety law apply to me?

  • Yes, fire safety law applies to you if anyone pays to stay in your property, other than to live there as a permanent home.
  • Any flat, house, cottage or caravan you rent out to others on a short-term arrangement or for a holiday is covered under the Fire Safety Order.
  • The Fire Safety Order makes you responsible for taking steps to protect all relevant people using your premises from the risk of fire.

Why should I do anything?

  • It is a legal requirement.
  • Failure to act may lead to enforcement action, prosecution, fines and/or imprisonment.
  • Moral duty of care to ensure the safety of your guests and visitors.
  • To provide business continuity, and prevent the risk of damage to your business, and to your reputation.

What must I do?

  • You must carry out a fire risk assessment (refer to our page ‘Completing a fire risk assessment’ for guidance)
  • Act on the outcomes of your fire risk assessment, and if necessary improve your fire safety measures.
  • Keep the risks and your fire safety measures, under review.
  • Keep records (fire alarm, gas, electrical safety (PAT) annual servicing and periodic inspections)

Consider vulnerable guests (young, elderly, disabled)

  • You will need to think about the vulnerable guests that may stay in your property when carrying out your fire risk assessment.
  • Does your booking procedure take vulnerable guests into consideration?
  • Your emergency plan (what your guests do in the event of a fire) must not rely on the intervention of the Fire Service.
  • You must not rely on emergency escape windows as a part of your means of escape

Do I need automatic fire detection (smoke alarms)?

  • Yes, fire detectors will be needed in the staircase, corridors and bedrooms.
  • For a premises similar to a family home it is likely you will need an:
    • interconnected mains electric automatic fire detection system.
    • It should have a battery back-up (technically known as a Grade D LD2 system)
  • For some smaller accommodation (no more than two storeys) which has two or three guest bedrooms and short travel distances, interconnected detectors with a 10-year battery may be good enough (technically, this is known as a Grade F LD2 system) which you may be able to fit yourself.
  • It must be tested regularly and must be loud enough to wake everyone sleeping.
  • Note: A properly conducted fire risk assessment may show a variation to the standard described above. Larger premises are likely to need a more sophisticated system with a control panel and manual call points.

Do I need to provide emergency lighting?

  • If a fire knocks out the normal inside lighting, you should think about whether any ‘borrowed lighting’, for example from nearby street lamps, would be enough to allow people on the premises to find their way out.
  • If not, it may be acceptable in small premises to rely on rechargeable torches which come on automatically if the main supply fails.
  • If required, you should have one in each room with a sign that says what they are for.
  • Large premises will need more sophisticated emergency lighting systems.

What are we looking for?

When we carry out an audit on a self-catering or holiday let, we use the ‘Do you have paying guests?’ guide when considering the adequacy of fire safety standards in these types of accommodation.

The guidance provides information on how to comply with responsibilities imposed by the Fire Safety Order.  We also refer to the fire risk assessment guide for sleeping accommodation for more technical matters.

The following list contains some of the fire precautions we may expect.  Our expectations are:

  • risk based,
  • and will depend upon the number of
    • rooms,
    • layout,
    • travel distances
    • and building construction.
  • Interlinked automatic fire detection throughout (grade D or F LD2)
  • Emergency lighting or torches that come one automatically when the power fails 
  • Solid fitting internal doors, ideally FD30S (high risk rooms)
  • Are the means of escape adequate for the premises?
  • External fire escape doors are simple to operate, and do not require a key
  • Fire action notices (with postcode and six figure grid reference)
  • Multi-purpose extinguishers, fire blanket
  • Furniture compliant with the Furniture and Furnishing Regulations 1998
  • Carbon Monoxide detection (if hazards have been identified)
  • Chimneys, wood burners well maintained
  • Barbecue fire safety and carbon monoxide advice for visitors.
  • Servicing records (fire alarm, gas, electric etc)

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