Help & FAQs for owners

Legislation affecting holiday letting

Trade Descriptions Act 1968

It is vital that all the information we advertise about your property is accurate in all respects - that is why we send you a link to view your listing before it goes live and have regular reviews of your property, so that you can amend it as appropriate. Particular attention should be paid to:

  1. Accommodation details - are the rooms correctly listed?
  2. Facilities/equipment advertised - do they all still work?
  3. Distances mentioned- is the city centre really just 100yards, for example, or is there still a supermarket within 1 mile?

Income Tax

We aren’t experts in tax so can’t provide advice but we can give you some pointers.

Rental income generated from a holiday let is subject to income tax and will need to be declared on your annual tax return. However, you may be able to deduct some expenses from your income to reduce the amount of tax that you pay.

In addition, if your total rental income from holiday lets is greater than £79,000 in any 12 month period you may have to register for VAT. Also, if you (personally) are already VAT registered, you will have to account for VAT on holiday let income.

We are obliged to provide HM Revenue & Customs with any information they request about rental income paid to any registered owner. If you live abroad we are required to deduct tax from the amounts that we pay to you (details on request).

The tax rules for holiday lets are quite complex and changed in April 2011. We suggest that you seek professional advice and our recommended accountant is Mark Howitt BA CA. If you would like to contact him please follow this link to send an email - Mark Howitt


Council Tax/Rates

Basically, Council Tax applies to any property listed as a 'dwelling house' by your Regional Assessor. A self-catering holiday property is considered a 'dwelling house' if it is made available for letting for up to 210 days in a year and Council Tax will be payable. (The minimum period that the property must be actually let to the public is 105 days.) If the property is not anyone's main residence, a 10% second home rebate on Council Tax will usually apply. The owner just needs to show that they are paying council tax at another property.

If a property is available for letting for 140 days or more in a year, it will be assessed for Non Domestic Rates (i.e. commercially rated). However you should be eligible for Small Business relief of up to 100%. We recommend you contact your local Rates Assessor for further information.


Electrical Equipment

There are two main sets of Regulations that apply to electrical appliances:

- The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994

- The Plugs and Sockets Etc (Safety) Regulations 1994

All electrical systems and equipment in self-catering properties must be maintained to avoid danger to all who use the premises (this includes guests and cleaning staff). The regulations cover mains wiring, sockets, cookers and all the electrical appliances provided in the property, whether portable or not.

Owners are responsible for making visual checks regularly and should keep a record of any testing and maintenance carried out. It is not a requirement that a qualified electrician inspects the equipment annually and provides a certificate, however if the property owner provides an item which is unsafe and causes a problem, the courts would require to know what reasonable steps he/she had taken to ensure the safety of the item. Visual checks must be made regularly by the owner and we recommend that an electrician is employed once a year to check all the electrical equipment. Written records should be kept.

Loose/cracked sockets, old/rusty electric fires, flexes wrapped up with insulating tape, etc are illegal in holiday properties.


Gas Fires and Appliances

We require all owners to have all gas equipment checked annually by a qualified gas fitter. You must keep records of these checks and be prepared to show the current certificate on request.


The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1998

This extended part of the 1987 Consumer Protection Act includes important regulations relating to the fire retardant properties of upholstered furniture in self-catering properties. The standards relate to the filling materials and covering fabric of settes, chairs, beds, headboards, nursery furniture, conservatory-type furniture, cushions and pillows.

  1. Upholstered furniture must have fire resistant filling material.
  2. Cover fabric must pass a match resistance test.
  3. Cover fabric and filling material must pass a cigarette resistance test.

All new furniture bought since March 1990 must meet these standards (labels should provide this information). Second-hand furniture bough since March 1993 must also meet these standards if a reputable dealer is selling it. 'Antique' furniture made before 1950 is exempt as it is unlikely to contain the dangerous materials which were in common use in the 60's and 70's.

All furniture meeting the requirements of the regulations should have a permanent label attached - the label will normally be found under the seat cushion or attached to the base of the furniture.

The label will state 'Carelessness Causes Fire' and will list certain information about the supplier, the item and its manufacture. If the furniture does not have such a label, it may not meet the requirements of the Regulations.

All owners of self-catering properties are responsible for ensuring that all their upholstered furniture meets the requirements. Further information and advice on any of these safety regulations may be obtained from your local council's Department of Trading Standards.


General Safety

Check over your property from time ot time to see if any other safety problems have arisen. Loose or frayed carpets could cause a hazard, check stair banisters etc. Please ensure that there is no broken glass, rusty metal or other hazardous items in the garden or grounds of the property. Keep a record of these checks as you have a duty of care to ensure that your property can be safely used. Should there be any accidents, it will help your case considerably if you can show that you have carried out a Risk Assessment and regularly monitored safety issues at your property.

Other Consumer Goods - Other products are governed by Safety Regulations:

Heating Appliances - All domestic gas, electric and oil heaters must have a fireguard which meets a British Standard test.

Cots and High Chairs - Must be safe and suitable for the purpose and should have a label or mark indicating the safety standard (BS EN 716 for cots, BS EN 14988 for high chairs).

Toys - Toys provided in the holiday property must not have sharp points or edges or have pieces which can be pulled off easily.

Bunk Beds - The size of gaps in the bed structure is prescribed by regulations to prevent children being trapped. Look for the BSI Kitemark.


Fire Safety

Whilst there is currently no requirement for a Fire Certificate for holiday homes, each owner is responsible for ensuring that risks have been assessed and adequate fire precautions are provided.

At least some of the ground floor windows should provide alternative means of escape, i.e. they should open wide enough to allow egress. We strongly recommend that a fire extinguisher (suitable for use on electrical equipment) or fire blanket is provided in the kitchen. The property must be equipped with smoke alarm(s) and these must be tested by the property owner or his/her manager. We recommend mains-wired smoke alarms as it is easy to forget to replace batteries.


Insurance

It is vital that you insure your property buildings and contents and that you are covered for Public Liability. You should therefore advise your usual insurance company/broker that the property is being let for holidays - they will usually charge an additional premium. Please note that accidents can happen at any holiday property.