Maintenance on holiday lets

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“Early spring is often the ideal time to carry out maintenance on holiday lets to prepare properties for the busy season ahead,” says Claire Longman of South West insurer Cornish Mutual.

Many of our farming Members across the South West are responding to the region’s growing tourism market and converting agricultural buildings into holiday lets.

Tourism experts predict more of us will opt for a staycation and holiday in the UK, this summer. Research, by Cambridge & Counties Bank, has shown that almost three quarters of UK holidaymakers are expecting an increase in domestic breaks in 2020. The list of top ten destinations revealed through the study includes Cornwall, Devon and Dorset.

The boom in holiday lettings sites, such as Airbnb, has added to the growth of the holiday let market here in the South West.

While this is traditionally a quieter period of the year for hosting guests, it is often the best time to carry out essential maintenance work and inspections on properties, to help prevent accidents and meet legal requirements.

Gas safety and boiler inspections

It is a legal requirement for all landlords, including holiday let owners, to have an annual gas safety check by a registered Gas Safe engineer. A copy of the Gas Safety Certificate will be issued after the inspection and should be displayed where guests can see it.

It is also mandatory for landlords to commission a boiler service at least once a year. This must be conducted by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

Electricity checks

There is no legal requirement for landlords to hold an Electrical Safety Certificate but it is your duty to ensure the safety of your property’s electrics. Therefore, it is a good idea to instruct a qualified electrician to carry out a full inspection, checking appliances against UK standards, at least every five years.

You must also carry out regular checks on all electrical appliances that are available for guest use. This involves looking for any signs of defects or wear and tear. Any hazards that you spot should be acted on immediately.

Of course, if you have a regular stream of guests throughout the year, all of whom will be using the electrical appliances, you may consider having more frequent inspections from a qualified electrician.

Fire safety

All landlords, including holiday let owners, need to comply with fire safety law and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Landlords are also legally obliged to carry out a fire risk assessment.

Although this can be carried out by either the landlord or a qualified fire consultant, it must be kept up to date, and ideally renewed every 12 months. The risk assessment should identify who is at risk as well as recognise, remove and reduce hazards.

There must be smoke detectors on every floor and in every room of the holiday let, except for bathrooms. You are legally required to have a carbon monoxide detector in every room that contains a fossil fuel-burning appliance, including a boiler, oven or log burner. Detectors should be tested frequently.

All upholstered furniture, including beds, mattresses and pillows must comply with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations. These should be regularly checked to ensure they still meet the required standards.

Booking a sweep to clean the chimney will help to prevent fires and carbon monoxide poisoning through open fires and log burners. HETAS recommends having a chimney swept at least twice a year when burning wood and annually if your fire uses smokeless fuels.

Out of season maintenance jobs

Conducting thorough checks and undertaking repairs during the low season can ensure the property is in a good state of repair and help keep guests safe.  We recommend that landlords carry out a regular assessment of the following:

  • Assess outside spaces, such as footpaths and steps to make sure there are no loose paving slabs, trip hazards or overgrowing vegetation.
  • Check the roof to ensure there are no loose tiles or damp coming through into the property.
  • Ensure all doors and windows can be locked and are opening properly.
  • Check drains and gutters to ensure there are no blockages.
  • Thoroughly check staircases and carpets, looking for trip hazards and making sure handrails are secure.

It is worth remembering who you are marketing your property to and ensuring it is suitable for their needs. For example, if you are attracting families it is important to do all you can to help prevent accidents, which may include installing socket covers and childproof locks.

A checklist of appliances and potential hazards is helpful to make sure you and your team, between guest changeovers, are regularly checking and inspecting everything that could cause your guests discomfort or injury during their stay.

Cornish Mutual offers specialist landlord insurance, which includes comprehensive cover for let property and contents.