An introduction to Holiday let law

The law may be an ass, but you’re a bigger one if you don’t know it!

Whatever you do in life, you must do so legally and in line with rules and regulations. Whether at work, as a member of your local sports club, or when you are driving from A to B, what you do is guided by law; it’s no different with holiday let investment.

To access the fantastic tax benefits of holiday let investment (as described in our holiday let property tax guide), your property must conform to certain conditions. When managing a holiday let property, there are more rules and regulations that you must follow to remain legal.

In this article, you’ll be introduced to the main laws, rules and regulations that you need to follow as an investor in a holiday let property.

Make sure your property is a holiday let

You’ll need to comply with the furnished holiday letting rules for your property to be considered as a holiday let. This means that it must:

  • Be made available to rent for at least 210 days each tax year
  • Be rented for at least 105 days each tax year
  • Not be rented by a single tenant for more than 31 days at a time

Which laws apply to holiday let properties

There are a number of laws that set out how a holiday let property will meet and maintain minimum safety standards. The devil is in the detail, of course, and it is worth a holiday let landlord having a working knowledge of the following Housing Acts and how they relate to holiday lets:

  • The Housing Act 2004 (England and Wales)
  • The Housing (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2011
  • The Housing (Scotland) Act 2006

For example, one of the most important systems that the law puts in place is the housing health and safety rating system (HHSRS). This identifies a total of 29 potential hazards in a holiday let home, which is identical to the rules for longer-term buy-to-let investment properties. The areas of hazards are:

  • Physiological hazards
  • Psychological hazards
  • Protection against infection
  • Protection against accidents

You must ensure that your holiday let property meets your obligations to maintain a fit and habitable property – especially with regard to HHSRS – or its local authority could prohibit you from renting it out. (Read this article – Health and safety and buy-to-let properties – for more information.)

GDPR

New data protection laws came into force this year, and they affect anyone who collects personal data. You are likely to be subject to the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) because as a holiday let owner you will probably collect personal details from your guests, such as:

  • Name
  • Postal address
  • Email address
  • Telephone number

The GDPR says how you are permitted to store and use personal data. To avoid a heavy fine through non-compliance, you’ll need to understand the data you use, ensure you get consent to use it in the way intended (for example, for marketing), keep records of activities carried out using the data, and ensure that there is an effective shield between the data you keep and the ‘outside world’.

Equality and fairness

You cannot discriminate against holidaymakers because of disabilities, gender, race or religion. You also must not harass your guests. The main Acts of law that regulate non-discrimination are the Equality Act 2010 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. This means that you may have to make alterations so that your holiday let is accessible to the disabled.

Health and safety regulations

There are many health and safety regulations that relate to holiday let properties. These cover areas such as gas, electrical, and fire safety, furniture, outdoor areas, the safety of children staying in the property, and water features. We cover these in some detail in our article, ‘10 holiday let health and safety areas owners must take care of’.

New Package Holiday Regulations

In mid-2018, the government introduced the new Package Holiday Regulations. These aim to offer extra protection to holidaymakers who book ‘linked travel offers’ through a single provider. If you offer a discount on, say, a local restaurant and your guest books through you, it is possible that you could be sued for loss if the restaurant ceases to trade before the guest has taken advantage of the discounted offer. However, for most holiday let owners, this law will not apply. You can read more and discover how to avoid being trapped by this law in our article, ‘How do the new package holiday regulations affect holiday lets?

In summary

There are many laws that overlap between buy-to-let and holiday let investment. There are also laws that apply more specifically to holiday let accommodation. Most of the rules and regulations are, in fact, common sense, and, as a conscientious holiday let investor seeking to maximise profits, you’d be doing these things as a matter of good business practice.

However, falling foul of holiday let legislation could be a costly mistake – and it can be difficult to understand some of the legal jargon used in law. You can’t avoid the law, but you must work within it. The best way to do so is to ensure that you partner with an experienced person to guide you. This is likely to be a solicitor or property manager with extensive holiday let experience.

To learn more about the advantages and benefits of holiday let property investment, contact Gladfish today on +44 207 923 6100. We’ll be happy to discuss how a holiday let investment might fit in with an existing portfolio or be the investment to help you achieve your lifestyle goals.

Live with passion

Brett Alegre-Wood

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