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Short-Term Holiday Let Legislation UK

Private Short Term Rental or Holiday Let? What’s the difference?

A surprising number within the travel industry do not know the difference between a private short-term rental and a holiday let. And it’s not surprising – they are very similar!

Therefore, before we delve into short-term holiday let legislation, we thought we’d outline the key differences as different legislation applies to different kinds of housing. As outlined by Furnished holiday lettings (2015), to qualify as a holiday let – or a furnished holiday letting (FHL) – your accommodation “Must be in the UK or European Economic Area (EEA) and commercially let. There does not have to be a formal lease”

Fundamentally, holiday lettings sit outside the regulatory framework of the private rental sector as the Holiday Letting Agreement is specifically excluded from the Housing Act 1988 . This means guests have no “security of tenure” (right to remain) and must leave the holiday rental at the end of the fixed term stay (or if they breach of the terms of the Holiday Let Agreement).

‘Holiday letting’ is defined in the Housing Act 1988 as ‘A tenancy the purpose of which is to confer on the tenant the right to occupy the dwelling house for a holiday’.

Short-term holiday let length of stay

To comply with the Furnished Holiday Letting Rules all the following conditions need to be met:

– The letting must not be for longer than 31 continuous days. (A period of longer than 31 days is deemed to be a ‘long’ stay)

– The let property needs to be made available for rent for at least 210 days in a tax year

– The rental needs to be actually let for at least 105 days of that tax year, for periods of shorter than 31 days at a time.

If you would like to let your property for a number of months out of season (for example) you can opt for:

– an assured tenancy

– an assured shorthold tenancy.

What are the main overlaps in legislation?

Holiday rental landlords are not required to register/ pay a deposit to a Tenancy Deposit Scheme. Nonetheless, the safety and repairing standards applicable to private rented accomodations do apply to holiday lets. This is what we will primarily cover in this article.

For a more in-depth read on legislation for tourist accommodation, we’d highly recommend Visit Britain’s Pink Book.

Holiday Let Legislation UK


Housing Acts

What key legislation applies to holiday rentals?

Within the UK, the following Housing Acts apply:

– Housing Act 2004 (England and Wales)

– Housing (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2011

– Housing (Scotland) Act 2006

Within these, there are clear system outlines in place to ensure domestic premises meet minimum safety standards. For instance, the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) – is a risk assessment approach that identifies 29 potential hazards (including fire) to be considered in domestic accommodation in England.


As an organisation that collects and processes personal information you need to register with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). Aligned with this, it is key to ensure your travel business is compliant with General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) that comes into effect in May 2018. Failure to comply is a criminal offence.

Equality and fairness

It is illegal to discriminate your guests on the basis of gender, disability or race. As a holiday letting owner/manager/landlord, you must not discriminate or harass your tenants, at any point in time. Key legislations that apply are as follows:


What regulation/legislation applies to holiday lets?  

England, Scotland, Wales Equality Act 2010
Northern Ireland Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)

Disability Discrimination (NI) Order 2006


As a landlord you must ensure your rental properties do not discriminate against disabled person(s), and it is clear you have made reasonable alterations for disabled people.

For more information on equity in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – and the differences between legislation – please see University and College Union’s (UCU) outline.

Safety Regulations


It may sound obvious, but before you let a holiday accomodation, you need to ensure that it is clean, dry, safe and in a habitable condition. How you evidence this varies, but typically this is assessed between each letting, and is completed as a checklist in the inventory of changeover cleans.

Gas Safety

gas safety for short term lets

Natural Gas is a very economical type of fuel to use in rentals. However, gas appliances that are badly installed, poorly serviced/maintained can be a serious safety threat in holiday lettings, and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning – whilst relatively rare – can be fatal. Examples of fuel-burning appliances that can produce CO include cookers, boilers and fires. However, gas/paraffin heaters, barbecues and clogged chimneys can also be a source. For more information please see Project SHOUT.

The following legislation outlines your duty as a landlord to ensure any gas appliances, fittings and chimneys/flues are safe for tenants.



What regulation/legislation applies to holiday lets?  

England, Scotland, Wales Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015

Northern Ireland Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998


Primarily legislation for short-term holiday lets (as it is with all domestic accommodation) states that you have 3 main responsibilities as a landlord: maintenance, gas safety check & record of gas safety check.

It also best practice to install a carbon monoxide alarm in bedrooms, in rooms frequently used by guests & wherever there is a fuel-burning appliance. You should test these (with any other alarms) weekly.


Electrical safety

It is vital that you ensure all electrical equipment is safe and in good working order before – and during – a short-term holiday let. This applies to both installed and portable electrical appliances.


What regulation/legislation applies to holiday lets?  

UK wide Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994


In addition to regular landlord checks between lettings, appliances/electrics should checked and serviced regularly by a NICEIC registered electrician.

You must maintain electrical equipment if it can cause danger, but the law does

not say how you must do this or how often. With this in mind, many holiday rental providers enlist an electrician to perform portable appliance tests (PAT).

It is also best practice to ensure that guests are given operating instructions for all equipment in the holiday home.

Useful guides:

– Landlords’ Guide to Electrical Safety

–  Landlords’ guide to electrical safety – England & Wales


Fire Safety

fire safety for short term lettings

Similar to gas safety, there are three core areas of compliance to fire safety legislation: a fire risk assessment, improve your fire safety measures (as a result of issues highlighted in the assessment), and keeping the risks under review.


What regulation/legislation applies to holiday lets?  

England & Wales Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015

Building Regulations: Approved Document B

Scotland Part 3 of the Fire (Scotland) Act

Building Standards technical handbook 2017: domestic.

Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006

Northern Ireland Building Regulations (Northern Ireland) Technical Booklet E (Fire Safety)


It is law to install fire alarms in your short-term holiday let, and to check these regularly. At a minimum (in England), landlords are required to have one smoke alarm on every level of their property, with heat alarms in the kitchen. However, it is best practice to follow British Standards 5839 – 6, which recommends fitting to an “LD2” standard with:

– Smoke alarms in all circulation areas/ escape routes, the principal habitable room and high-risk areas (such as living rooms)

– At least one heat alarm installed in every kitchen.

It is also recommended to install interlinked alarms and multi-sensor smoke alarms (these detect both heat and smoke simultaneously)

Useful guides:

England and Wales

Fire safety risk assessment: sleeping accommodation

Fire safety: guidance for the hospitality industry


Small Bed & Breakfast & Self-Catering Premises


If you are providing a short term holiday let with upholstered furniture, then the following legislation will apply to you in the UK:


What regulation/legislation applies to holiday lets?  

UK wide  Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988


Under this, landlords must ensure domestic furniture, beds, headboards, mattresses, cushions and pillows meet the set fire resistance standard. Whilst holiday lets fall under ‘domestic’ premises, you may wish to purchase furniture designed to meet higher resistance standards (such as hotel beds and chairs).

Further reading:

Fire safety of furniture and furnishings – Visit Britain

A Guide to the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations

Further considerations:


swimming pool for holiday rentals

Swimming pools

If your holiday lettings have swimming pools, then we’d recommend using Managing health and safety in swimming pools – a guide by The Health and Safety Executive (HSE). This outlines relevant legislation, and best practice for keep the pools safe for guests.

Hot tubs 

A hot tub or ‘spa pool’ is desirable addition to a holiday home. However, similarly to swimming pools, owners/managers of holiday rentals have a duty to assess the  hot tub health risks and comply with relevant guidance. The last thing you want is a risk of Legionnaires’ disease!

For information on health and safety surrounding hot tubs, see the Health and Safety Executive.

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