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Health & safety guidelines when sharing your home – The essential guide

Posted by admin on May 15, 2020 · Uncategorized

Mia Martinussen, Crowd Hog at GUARDHOG, provides a guide of what you should do to make your home safe before hosting your first guests:

Everyone says home-sharing is completely hassle-free. Well, sorry to be the person to burst your bubble, it’s not, especially if you’re going to be thorough when it comes to health and safety, (which you should be).

Inviting guests to stay in your home (and making some money along the way) brings with it some obligations with respect to the health and safety of those guests. We’ve laid out below what you are responsible for and what you need to have ticked off along the way.

These guidelines explain what you need to do to make your home safe and if you would like some help keeping a record of the checks you’ve done then head to SUPERHOG.com and follow our easy steps to verify your home as fit and proper for home-sharing.

Whilst the concept of health and safety can be intimidating, these responsibilities need not be difficult to understand or complicated to fulfil, and most is just good old-fashioned common sense. If you do have any queries or concerns in relation to health and safety then we can put you in touch with partners who can advise you and conduct a health and safety audit.

Gas Appliances

Make sure you have the appropriate gas safety certificate

Why are there rules?

Gas leaks can result in poisoning and pose a significant fire risk. Old or malfunctioning gas appliances are of particular concern.

What are the rules?

Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, as a host you are required to arrange the following mandatory items:

  • An annual gas safety check must be carried out every 12 months by a Gas Safe Registered engineer.
  • A record of this safety check must be kept for 2 years.

Maintenance must be undertaken only by a Gas Safe Registered engineer who is qualified and registered to undertake work on all pipework, appliances and flues, in your home. Any gas appliance that you own or provide for guest use is included in your legal duties. This includes all boilers, gas fireplaces, ovens and hobs as well as any liquid propane gas (LPG). If you are unsure of the safety of any gas appliance then please get a Gas Safe Registered engineer to check it.

What if I ignore this?

Failure to have your gas appliances inspected whilst home-sharing would mean you were negligently putting lives at risk and breaking the law. HSE gives gas safety a high priority and will take the appropriate action to ensure compliance with the regulations; this could result in a substantial fine and/or a custodial sentence.

What else should I know?

Put a carbon monoxide alarm in every room in the house with a gas appliance i.e. kitchen, boiler room, sitting room. Using audible CO alarms provides an additional precaution to warn about the presence of carbon monoxide. They cost less than £30 and can be purchased in most hardware shops.

Before purchasing a CO alarm, always ensure it complies with British Standard EN 50291 and carries a British or European approval mark, such as a Kitemark. Such alarms should not be regarded as a replacement for regular maintenance and safety checks by a Gas Safe Registered engineer.

External help

HSE runs a free Gas Safety Advice Line offering information on gas safety. To contact the Gas Safety Advice Line freephone 0800 300 363.

The National Landlords Association (NLA) provide a short video on their website regarding general gas safety, landlord duties and CO poisoning.

Top Tip: When you get your annual gas safety check ask them to give your boiler a service too – it will help maintain the smooth running of the hot water and heating within your home avoiding guest grumbles when there is no hot water.

Electrical Systems and Appliances

Make sure to check that all electrical appliances are safe

Why are there rules?

54.4% of home fires in 2016/17 were started due to faulty electrics (source).

What are the rules?

It’s not mandatory to check your electrics but why leave yourself open to the chance of being perceived as negligent?

What else should I know?

As best practice we recommend that you commission a Periodic Inspection Report on the electrical installations every 5 years. We also recommend that you commission a portable appliance test (PAT) on an annual basis from a properly licensed inspection provider.

All electrical work in the home must be carried out by a certified ‘competent person’. You are also required to ensure the electrical system and any electrical appliances within the home such as cookers, kettles, toasters and washing machines are safe.

External help

Here are all the things that you can do in and around your home to keep you, your loved ones and your guests safe.

Fire Safety Standards

Check that all safety precautions are completed in regards to fire

Why there are rules?

As you will have paying guests staying in your home it is likely that you will be subject to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety Order) 2005. This order does not cover “domestic” premises but the Government takes the view that in many cases renting out your home means that your home will no longer be treated as purely domestic.

What are the rules?

The main requirement of the order is that you carry out a fire risk assessment. In many cases you will be able to carry out this assessment yourself.

We would recommend that you carry out an assessment and address any fire hazards and risks you have identified. Ensure that all emergency exit routes are kept clear and where the exit routes are not obvious you indicate to guests how to safely exit the premises (e.g. by posting a notice on the main door of the premises).

What if I ignore this?

If you are not able to demonstrate that a risk assessment has been completed and that you have taken suitable steps to address the fire hazards and risks you have identified, then you open yourself up to being considered wilfully negligent.

What else should I know?

You must be aware of the fire resistance requirements in the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988.

The regulations set levels of fire resistance for domestic upholstered furniture. All new and second-hand furniture must meet the fire resistance requirements unless it was made before 1950. Most furniture will have a manufacturer’s label confirming it meets the requirements.

Regulations typically apply where the property is regarded as a source of income rather than as your home. If you are not sure whether the regulations apply to you, seek advice from the Trading Standards Department of your local authority.

Your Safety Checklist

  • Gas appliances are safe, properly and regularly maintained.
  • Electrical systems, appliances & outlets are safe.
  • Furniture is appropriately fire retardant.
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are installed.
  • You have checked your home for any hazards.

Fit and Safe to stay in

Why are there rules?

You have a responsibility to ensure that your home is safe to inhabit and is does not have defects which could be dangerous for guests. The full duty of care and legislation over repairs is set out in section 4 of the Defective Premises Act 1972 and the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

What are the rules?

You have a duty of care to ensure that so far as is reasonably possible, guests are safe from personal injury or damage to their possessions caused by a defect in your home.

What if I ignore this?

If you knowingly have guests to stay in your home when it is in disrepair and an injury occurs then you could be prosecuted and fined, at worst you could go to jail.

What else should I know?

Our recommendation is that you keep the home in good order, ensuring that your home does not fall into disrepair, leading to a dangerous situation.

External help

Here are all the things that you can do in and around your home to keep everyone safe.

Top Tip

SUPERHOG provides online tools that allow you to easily and simply walk round your home and identify potential risks.

Official guidance

It is worth saying that these guidelines are not a comprehensive overview of health and safety law and obligations and we are not qualified to advise you in detail about the relevant rules and regulations. Official health and safety information and guidance can be found through the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website.