How to holiday let
Stay Safe and Reduce Risk in your Holiday Home
As responsible holiday home owners, creating a Risk Assessment goes without saying to make sure you’ve thought of everything to keep your guests safe. It’s no good having a beautiful death trap.
Every holiday home owner with paying guests is legally required to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment (make sure you are thorough in your assessment and keep it regularly updated). But what about less regulated requirements and every day dangers - is it enough to stick up a disclaimer and be done?
At Your Own Risk
How much responsibility should you take? Is it better safe than sorry? Should Joe Public look after themselves?
Well an individual takes their own risks, and is responsible for ensuring they adopt an appropriate level of common sense in any given situation. But accidents do happen. And this is where liability and the law kick in.
As a service provider you need to give evidence that you have made every effort to prevent accidents, that you have not been negligent in any respect. You have a responsibility to mitigate yourself, as far as practicably possible.
‘As part of the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 it is stated that no contract term can legally have the effect of excluding liability for death or injury caused by negligence in the course of business.’
So what does this mean as far as your disclaimer sign?
If someone falls off the cliff at the end of your garden, is it your fault? If they had to climb over your safety fence to do so, then no. Because you have made the effort to ensure their safety and they’ve flouted it.
Of course, this is an extreme and unfortunate example, but it illustrates the point well. If someone falls off your dining chair and breaks their arm, it might be your fault if the chair was rickety and unfit for purpose. If a child gets hurt because a trampoline collapses because it’s gone rusty through negligence, it’s your fault.
The key is to keep regular records of your risk assessment and quality checks. A sign saying ‘use at your own risk’ does not mean you can leave things to become unsafe.
Holiday Home Insurance
Yet another monthly expense? A bit of red tape? A chore?
It’ll be more than worth it if the worst does happen. Public Liability insurance sounds like a box ticker but it’s a necessity. Check with your insurer to see what is actually covered and seek legal advice for explicit information about liability.
We work with insurance companies who provide policies specifically written for holiday homes that cover public liability as well as buildings and contents. If you stay with your existing company, it is important that they are aware that you are holiday letting. It is essential that you check you are covered for Public Liability.
What if the worst happens
First priority – make sure they are ok. You don’t need a lesson in empathy but a little goes a long way. Just don’t apologise.
Wait, what? But that contradicts…?
In legal terms, it could be taken as an admission of liability.
So, be human about it, make sure they’re ok. Then get the facts.
You will need to inform your insurance company of every little detail as quickly as possible to protect yourself, but also the guest. They will want to know the exact details of events plus copies of prevention tactics so this is where it is important to keep your risk assessments up to date.
Guests may rightly be emotional about what happened so try to keep from being confrontational – as per our recommendations in our booking conditions, guests have a responsibility to mitigate their liability, so should report any issues as quickly as possible. It I s a good idea for them to put it in writing, firstly as a physical record but also because it can help keep a situation calm and manageable on all sides. Don’t, however, write a letter back. Acknowledge receipt but don’t reply – leave that to the professionals and forward it to your insurance company.
In summary, be kind, gather all the information you can, as quickly as you can and get it off to your insurance provider.
Don’t get wrapped up in red tape, but do make sure you adhere to guidelines. A little bit of effort can save a lot of aggro. Communication is key, so make sure you’ve read all the manufacturers advice on facilities you provide, and relayed that to guests clearly, so they know how to use things in a safe way. Then if an accident happens, communicate everything to your insurance company.
Check out our other blogs on safety in the holiday home
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