The responsibilities of holiday rental hosts regarding guest safety

Understanding the legal liabilities and other safety tips


“Safety first” is more than just a buzzword. When it comes to holiday lets, it’s an essential mantra. As a host, you have certain legal responsibilities you need to meet. Fail to do that and you could be in some seriously hot water. Before you start advertising a holiday home for rent, make sure you understand the full legal implications of what you’re doing. To get started, read on for an overview of your responsibilities and issues with holiday rental hosts’ liability.

Risk assessment

This is the first step to ensuring you have a safe and legal rental. Long before you start looking at listings on a holiday rental website, you’ll need to get the professionals in to carry out a full risk assessment on your property.

You’ll need to have a fire risk assessment and get a valid gas safety certificate before you can rent a holiday apartment or home. If you’re in Scotland, you’ll also need to get an electrical safety certificate. This is not a legal requirement in other parts of the UK, but it’s certainly a good idea. Similarly, PAT (Portable Appliance Testing) is mandatory in Scotland but not in other UK countries. Nevertheless, many holiday rental portals will need you to undertake PAT before they let you advertise.

Implementing security measures

There are certain requirements to rent your holiday home. Some of these are mandatory in law, while others are common requirements of insurance companies. You might think they come across as rather stringent, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Holiday rentals are held to high standards. Here are some of the things you’ll have to watch out for:

  • Make sure you have no loose cables, protruding objects or sharp edges that may cause injuries.
  • Install safety railings where necessary. That usually means on stairs, balconies and landings. Railings will usually need to be between 900 mm and 1,000 mm high.
  • Install non-slip tiling in bathrooms and around pools. Check that the shower or bathtub has some kind of non-slip mat.
  • Place prominent warning signs where necessary. You’ll need these if, for example, you have a low ceiling on the stairs where someone may bump their head, a hard-to-see step, and so on.
  • If windows are within reach of children, make sure they can only open a short distance, usually 100 mm or less.

It’s worth getting the help of an expert at this stage. There are often potential hazards that you may not have considered. For example, a seemingly innocent trampoline in the garden may appear to be a fun addition to a holiday let. However, half of all child admissions to A&E come from trampolining accidents. With that in mind, putting one in the garden of your holiday rental may not be worth the risk!

Preparing emergency procedures

With any luck, you’ll never have to put your emergency procedures to the test. Still, it’s essential to have them, just in case. Remember, in the event of an emergency, you will not be on the premises. In fact, you might be very far away. As such, you should make sure that your guests have all the essential contact numbers in their welcome book.

Your guests will also need to know how to turn off the gas, water or electricity if necessary. If you like to welcome them in person, you can show them these all-important safety measures when they arrive. However, it’s still essential that you provide the information in writing, too. Your guests are holidaymakers, and in their excitement, they might forget what you’ve told them.

Fire safety rules

One of the biggest and most dangerous potential problems is a fire. You’ll need to have clearly marked evacuation routes, with nothing blocking the essential passages. Make sure your guests are familiar with the evacuation routes. You can do this by putting a diagram on the wall and including the necessary information in your welcome book. If you choose to greet your guests in person, you might want to go over evacuation routes with them.

You should also ensure you have working smoke detectors on all floors, as well as the necessary tools to fight a small fire: fire extinguishers and fire blankets. These are particularly important in rooms like the kitchen, where fires are more likely to break out. Check your smoke alarms regularly to make sure they’re in tip-top condition.

Pool safety

Does your holiday rental have a pool? If so, you’ll need to take extra precautions. Make sure you have non-slip surfaces installed around the pool, and place informative warning signs in the nearby area. It’s essential that you fence the pool, or a curious child could meet with a tragic accident. Consider installing the following:

  • A sign showing the depth of the water: if your pool has a shallow and deep end, install signs to mark each with their respective depths.
  • Signs such as “no diving” and “children must be supervised”: these won’t necessarily protect you from liability, but they are handy to have.
  • At least one ladder: make sure it is secure and easily accessible, complete with non-slip rungs.
  • A life hook: ensure it is kept in a highly visible location.
  • A lifesaving ring: place it in a prominent poolside position.

A pool can be extremely lucrative in a holiday rental, but it’s also a major potential hazard. With the right equipment and regular risk assessments, you can keep it safe and ensure you’re meeting all the necessary holiday rental owner rights and obligations.

Holiday rental insurance

What is Airbnb insurance? Well, what happens if a guest gets hurt in your holiday rental? For that, you’ll need holiday rental liability insurance. This is just one of the several types of insurance that you’ll have to take out, and it protects you in the event that a guest has an accident. Other forms of insurance include holiday letting insurance, which is designed to keep your property and possessions safe, and employer’s liability insurance. You’ll need this one if you employ staff, such as a cleaner or gardener; it will protect you if they have an accident at work. That means you’ll never have to worry about what happens if there is an accident in an Airbnb again!

Some holiday letting platforms also offer their own particular insurance. If you’ve ever wondered what Airbnb AirCover is, here’s your answer! Always read the fine print before agreeing to anything, and don’t be afraid to ask a lawyer or friendly expert to double-check it for you. A mistake here can be seriously costly, so move slowly and carefully!

Other posts in this category:


How to create a holiday rental invoice


Taxation for non-resident hosts with holiday rentals in Spain


Implementing discounts in your holiday rental


A guide to furnishing your holiday rental: Tips and strategies


Strategic planning for holiday rental peak season


Ten mistakes you should avoid when renting out your holiday home