Phoenix Health & Safety, NEBOSH & IOSH specialists, shed light on the key things you need to know as an Airbnb host to avoid financial and legal risks within the market.
Nick Higginson, chief executive officer of Phoenix Health & Safety, comments: “Most health and safety legislation applies to the workplace, however, there is legislation called the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 under which the owner/host would come under the definition of being the ‘occupier’ and the guest under the definition of ‘lawful visitor’.”
“Failure on any of the key points we have outlined below may be classified as a breach of this legislation and could result in legal consequences and compensation claims.”
Here, Higginson outlines five things owners need to consider about their Airbnb.
1. Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Although it is not a legal requirement to have carbon monoxide detectors (CMD) in an Airbnb-style property, many guests prefer them as it makes people feel safer.
“Carbon monoxide builds up in a property due to the burning of fuels. Properties that have traditional fireplaces or a woodburning stove are at a higher risk of causing carbon monoxide poisoning and without detectors, it could have serious consequences,” Higginson says.
“It’s strongly advisable to have a CMD, not only for safety precautions but also not to deter potential guests. Furthermore, if your property has a fireplace, always ask guests to keep fresh air flowing throughout the property, and to crack the windows where necessary to avoid the build-up of carbon monoxide levels.”
2. Smoke Alarms are required on every floor
Whether you are renting out a room or an entire property on Airbnb it’s essential to provide a smoke alarm on each storey of the building and appropriate fire extinguishers should also be present. Whilst you don’t need fire warden training as a host, you will need to know the legal requirements.
Higginson explains: “Fire safety requirements can be hard to identify depending on the scale of the building. Some may require a fire exit to be clearly signposted whilst others may require carbon monoxide detectors. To ensure you have the correct information for the building's specific needs it’s best to carry out a fire risk assessment.”
3. Furniture must be fire retardant
Your furniture might not be something you consider an issue when hosting a property, however, there are health and safety rules you need to check.
“Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 is legislation which protects guests, ensuring they are in an environment where furnishings are not likely to become inflamed from close contact with products such as candles or cigarettes. If you ignore this essential safety check and there are incidents related to this, you could face prosecution,” warns Higginson.
4. Annual gas safety checks are required
If you supply gas on the premises an annual gas safety check must be carried out every 12 months by a Gas Safe Registered engineer. If you fail to prove certification of the last 2 years in the appropriate checks, you can face legal prosecution for being negligible to your guests and putting lives at risk.
Higginson adds: “Even if you are renting a room out in the property you occupy, you must be prepared to pay for Gas Safe certification.”
5. Electrical safety
Some 7.5% of Airbnb travellers in 2021 complained about unsafe amenities in their Airbnb, including things such as electricals/ fire hazards. Whilst hosts are not bound by law to commit regular electrical safety checks, if ignored and an electrical accident with a guest occurs it could open up a negligence case.
“Electrical systems should be safe to use, and it is the host’s responsibility to make sure the required checks are made regularly," Higginsons adds.
“Things such as wiring, cooking appliances, sockets and light fittings should be checked tri-annually to ensure they are working correctly. There should also be safety checks on appliances supplied such as cookers and kettles.”
The Future of Airbnb hosting
“Over the coming years, we predict more processes and legislation will come into place to protect guests staying in Airbnb style accommodation to ensure that a similar health and safety standard is upheld to that of which you would expect in a registered hotel or hospitality accommodation,” says Higginson.
“Whilst landlords/hosts are expected to create a safe environment with reliable reviews, it is a relatively untouched market for legislation. Hosts may consider health and safety training to ensure they are fully equipped.”
*Nick Higginson is the CEO of Phoenix Health & Safety