Airbnb Health & Safety

06/09/2019

Everyone says home-sharing is completely hassle-free. Well, sorry to be the person to burst your bubble, it’s not, especially if you’re going to dot the I’s and cross the t’s when it comes to health and safety.

How far you want to go to make sharing your home a memorable and once in a life-time opportunity is up to you. However, by inviting guests to stay in your home (and making some money along the way) brings with it some obligations with respect to the health and safety of those guests that you just can’t ignore. We’ve laid out below what you are responsible for and what you need to have ticked off along the way.

These guidelines explain what you need to do to make your home safe and if you would like some help keeping a record of the checks you’ve done then head to SUPERHOG.com and follow our easy steps to making your home fit and proper for home-sharing.

Official guidance

Worth saying that these guidelines are not a comprehensive overview of health and safety law and obligations and we are not qualified to advise you in detail about the relevant rules and regulations. Official health and safety information and guidance can be found through the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website www.hse.gov.uk

Whilst official documentation can be intimidating, these responsibilities need not be difficult to understand or complicated to fulfil, and most is just good old-fashioned common sense. If you do have any queries or concerns in relation to health and safety then we can put you in touch with partners who can advise you and conduct a health and safety audit.

What you are responsible for   

In particular, you are responsible for compliance with any Regulations which require that:

  • Gas appliances are safe and properly and regularly maintained
  • Electrical systems, appliances & outlets are safe
  • Furniture is appropriately fire retardant
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are installed
  • The home is generally safe and fit for occupation

Gas appliances

1. Why there are rules

It’s completely common sense. Gas leaks can result in poisoning and/or pose a significant fire risk and old or malfunctioning gas appliances are of particular concern to the powers that be (the regulators).

2. What are the rules

Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, as a host you are required to arrange the following mandatory items:

  • an annual gas safety check must be carried out every 12 months by a Gas Safe Registered engineer
  • a record of this safety check must be kept for 2 years
  • maintenance must be undertaken only by a Gas Safe Registered engineer who is qualified and registered to undertake work on all pipework, appliances and flues, in your home

Any gas appliance that you own or provide for guest use is included in your legal duties. This includes all boilers, gas fireplaces, ovens and hobs as well as any liquid propane gas (LPG). If you are unsure of the safety of any gas appliance then please get a Gas Safe Registered engineer to check it.

3. What if I ignore this

Failure to have your gas appliances inspected whilst home-sharing would mean you were negligently putting lives at risk and breaking the law. HSE gives gas safety a high priority and will take the appropriate action to ensure compliance with the regulations; this could result in a substantial fine and/or a custodial sentence.

4. What else should I know

Put a poisonous carbon monoxide alarm in every room in the house with a gas appliance i.e. kitchen, boiler room, sitting room. Using audible CO alarms provides an additional precaution to warn about the presence of carbon monoxide and since they cost less than £30 and can be purchased in most hardware shops it’s a no-brainer.

Before purchasing a CO alarm, always ensure it complies with British Standard EN 50291 and carries a British or European approval mark, such as a Kitemark. Such alarms should not be regarded as a replacement for regular maintenance and safety checks by a Gas Safe Registered engineer.

5. External help

HSE runs a free Gas Safety Advice Line offering information on gas safety that is open between 9.00am and 5 .30 pm Monday to Thursday and 9.00am to 5.00pm on Friday (excluding bank holidays). To contact the Gas Safety Advice Line freephone 0800 300 363.

The National Landlords Association (NLA) provide a short video on their website regarding general gas safety, landlords duties and CO poisoning.

Top Tip

Apart from carbon monoxide alarms?! When you get your annual gas safety check ask them to give your boiler a service too, it will help maintain the smooth running of the hot water and heating within your home as all guests grumble when there is no hot water.

Electrical system and appliances

1. Why are there rules?

54.4% of home fires in 2016/17 were started due to faulty electrics (https://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/about-us/policies-and-research/statistics-england/).

2. What are the rules?

It’s not mandatory to check your electrics.

3. What if I ignore this

but why leave yourself open to the chance of being perceived as negligent.

4. What else should I know

As a best practice, we recommend that you commission a Periodic Inspection Report on the electrical installations every 5 years. We also recommend that you commission a portable appliance test (PAT) on an annual basis from a properly licensed inspection provider.

All electrical work in the home must be carried out by a certified ‘competent person’. You are also required to ensure the electrical system and any electrical appliances within the home such as cookers, kettles, toasters and washing machines are safe.

5. External help

Here are all the things that you can do in and around your home to keep you, your loved ones and your guests safe: http://www.esc.org.uk/public/safety-in-the-home/.

Fire safety standards

1. Why are there rules

As you will have paying guests staying in your home it is likely that you will be subject to the Regulatory Reform (Fire  Safety Order) 2005. The Order does not cover “domestic” premises but the Government takes the view that in many cases renting out your home means that your home

will no longer be treated as purely domestic.

2. What are the rules

The main requirement of the Order is that you carry out a fire risk assessment. In many cases you will be able to carry out this assessment yourself.

We would recommend that you carry out an assessment and that following that assessment you address the fire hazards and risks you have identified, that you ensure that all emergency exit routes are kept clear and that where the exit routes are not obvious you indicate to guests how to safely exit the premises (e.g. by posting a notice on the main door of the premises).

3. What if I ignore this

If you are not able to demonstrate that a risk assessment has been completed and you have taken suitable steps to address the fire hazards and risks you have identified then you open yourself up to be willfully negligent.

4. What else should I know

You must be aware of the fire resistance requirements in the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ uksi/1988/1324/contents/made).

The regulations set levels of fire resistance for domestic upholstered furniture. All new and second hand furniture must meet the fire resistance requirements unless it was made before 1950. Most furniture will have a manufacturer’s label on it saying if it meets the requirements.

Regulations typically apply if where the property is regarded as a source of income rather than as your home. If you are not sure whether the regulations apply to you, seek advice from the Trading Standards Department of your local authority.

Our recommendations are that you:

  • Check the furniture within your home to see whether it is fire retardant
  • Make sure your guests have a clear escape route from your home in case of a fire
  • Display prominent notices informing guests of exit routes and other actions to take in the case of fire;
  • Have well-functioning alarms for fire and/ or smoke installed and that you check them regularly
  • Consider providing at least one fire extinguisher per floor depending on the size of your home

Top tip

SUPERHOG provides an online risk assessment that allows you to easily and simply walk round your home and identify potential risks.

Fit and Safe to stay in

1. Why are the rules

You have a responsibility to ensure that your home is safe to inhabit and it does not have defects which could be dangerous for guests. The full duty of care and legislation over repairs is set out in section 4 of the Defective Premises Act 1972 and the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

2. What are the rules

You have a duty to take care to ensure that so far as is reasonably possible guests are reasonably safe from personal injury or damage to their property caused by a defect in your home.

3. What if I ignore this

If you knowingly have guests to stay in your home when it is in disrepair and that it might lead to a dangerous situation then you could be prosecuted and fined, at worst you could go to jail.

4. What else should I know

Our recommendation is that you keep the home in good order, ensuring that your home does not fall into disrepair, leading to a dangerous situation.

5. External help

Here are all the things that you can do in and around your home to keep everyone safe: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/housing-standards-rented-accommodation

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