Keep Your Small Paying Guest Accommodation Safe From Fire

Oct 19, 2023

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On October 1st 2023, the UK government released a new comprehensive guide titled “Ensuring Safety in Your Small Paying Guest Accommodation”. This was produced in collaboration with experts from the fire, commercial and housing sectors.

The new fire safety legislation guide has been designed to assist individuals in adhering to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This guide offers both expert advice and practical suggestions.

Small paying guest accommodations typically have:

  • Uncomplicated layouts.
  • Minimal fire hazards.
  • A few bedrooms designated for guest sleeping arrangements:
    • Short-term rentals.
    • Small bed and breakfasts.
    • Guest houses.
    • Self-catering accommodations.

Compliance with the law is your responsibility, in need of legal guidance? Seek professional assistance.

The law applies to all short-term lets that are not let as a principal residence…

even if you rent out a room in your home only once!

fra guide

Download Our Guide Now!

Who Does This Apply To?

Small Paying Guest Accommodation

Single Premises

    • Ground Floor or Ground & First Floor.
    • Providing Sleeping Accommodation.
    • Sleeps a Maximum of 10 People.
    • No More Than 4 Bedrooms on the 1st Floor.
    • Such as Houses, Cottages & Chalets.

Individual Flats

    • Both Purpose-Built Block of Flats
    • House That Has Been Converted into Flats.
    • Doesn’t Include Unusually Large Flats Often Found in Mansion Blocks in London.

The principles and suggestions outlined in the ‘Small Paying Guest Accommodation’ guide are applicable to more compact outdoor accommodations, including holiday caravans, camping and glamping pods, bothies, lodges, shepherds’ huts, tents, tree houses and yurts.

The Fire Safety Order

The primary legislation governing fire safety in small paying guest accommodation premises in England is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The RRFSO 2005 is commonly known simply as “the Fire Safety Order.”

This order is applicable to any premises where individuals pay to stay. Excluding permanent residences. Even if you rent out a room in your premises just once and it is not the tenant’s principal residence, the Fire Safety Order is still applicable.

Under the Fire Safety Order, there is an obligation to ensure fire safety for anyone staying in small paying guest accommodation. This includes taking preventive measures to minimise the risk of fire. We must ensure that in the event of a fire, people can safely evacuate to designated areas.

Click for more fire safety guidance

Your Responsibilities

Small Paying Guest Accommodation

As a responsible individual accountable for the premises according to fire safety laws, you are required to:

  • Carry out a suitable & sufficient fire risk assessment of your Small Paying Guest Accommodation.
  • Record your findings.
  • Ensure that adequate fire safety measures are provided, e.g. escape routes & fire alarms.
  • Steps are taken to prevent a fire from occurring.
  • Maintain fire safety measures in good conditions and effective working order.
  • Have fire procedures to ensure employees, guests & visitors know what to do in the event of fire.
  • Employees, guests & visitors must understand the fire safety measures within the premises.
  • Give suitable instructions about fire procedures and fire safety measures to any staff you employ.
  • Co-operate with any other person who has duties under fire safety legislation.
  • Co-ordinate the fire safety measures for which each of you is responsible.
  • Keep your fire risk assessment and fire safety measures under regular review


Fire Risk Assessment

Small Paying Guest Accommodation

‘Fire Risk’ is typically described as the fusion of the probability of a fire igniting and the potential impact a fire could have on the safety of individuals within a specific location.

Evaluating fire risk is a pivotal aspect of fire safety regulations. Individuals managing and overseeing the premises are obligated to adhere to the legislation. Contact us to get a quote for our Fire Risk Assessments.

The process of fire risk assessment includes examining the small paying guest accommodation premises to pinpoint any potential fire hazards. Once fire risks are identified, we can then ensure the presence of sufficient precautions. We do this to prevent fires from erupting. In addition, we must take into account the individuals who are expected to use the premises, but struggle to evacuate, such as:

  • Older adults
  • Young children
  • People with disabilities

We can then formulate a catered plan for their safe evacuation in the case of a fire.

Fire Hazards

A fire hazard refers to anything that could initiate or exacerbate a fire. This includes ignition sources or an excessive accumulation of flammable materials. There are two approaches to tackling fire hazards.

    • If you identify any such hazards, you should eliminate them.
    • If that’s not possible, you must take steps to minimise the risk to people.

Any fire hazards found in small paying guest accommodation premises should be minimised. For example, electrical wiring, smoking, cooking etc. Below, we can offer examples of control measures to mitigate these risks.

Electrical installations

It is essential to have a qualified contractor inspect your electrical wiring in your small paying guest accommodation. Additionally, be vigilant for any indications of cable damage or sockets that are cracked or loose.

  • Overloading Circuits: When too many appliances are plugged into a single outlet, it can overload the circuit and cause overheating, leading to a fire.
  • Faulty Wiring: Old or damaged wiring can spark and ignite nearby combustible materials.
  • Short Circuits: A short circuit occurs when a hot wire comes into contact with a neutral or ground wire, potentially leading to a fire due to the sudden increase in electrical flow.

Your premises should undergo electrical inspection and testing every five years. Also, any electrical work should be performed exclusively by competent electrical contractors.

fire hazards overloaded plug socket


Smoking constitutes a significant fire hazard in small paying guest accommodation premises, leading to more fatalities than any other cause. Therefore, it is imperative to establish a clear smoking policy. This policy should encompass the use of cigarettes, vaping pens and e-cigarettes.

  • Ignition Source: Cigarettes, cigars, or other smoking materials can ignite flammable materials. This includes solid combustibles such as curtains, furniture or bedding.
Bed and Breakfast Accommodations

In bed and breakfast accommodations, smoking is strictly prohibited by law in public spaces such as communal rooms and corridors. It is crucial to inform both employees and guests about this legal restriction. If smoking is not allowed in bedrooms, prominently displayed signs indicating the policy are necessary.

Self Catering Accommodations

In self-catering accommodations and self-contained flats, the safest approach is to encourage residents not to smoke at all. Promote a smoke-free environment for everyone’s safety.

active fire protection smoke alarm

Fire Protection Measures

Fire safety measures are intended to safeguard people during a fire incident are typically referred to as “fire protection measures.”

Once potential fire hazards have been identified we must analyse the effectiveness of existing control measures. Any further steps should involve contemplating the scenario if a fire were to occur and how to best combat this scenario.

Factors to consider in your Small Paying Guest Accommodation include:

Click for more information on fire protection measures.

Recommendations for Smoke and Heat Alarms

Ensuring the safety and well-being of guests is of paramount importance in any accommodation setting, especially in a small paying guest accommodation. One crucial aspect of guest safety is the installation and maintenance of smoke and heat alarms. These devices are essential in providing early warning in the event of a fire, allowing guests to evacuate safely and promptly.

These images offer comprehensive recommendations for where to best place your smoke and heat alarms throughout your premises. 

For more recommendations on exits etc click here

Open plan studio flat
Two storey house
Two storey cottage


In conclusion, the release of the comprehensive guide titled “Ensuring Safety in Your Small Paying-Guest Accommodation” by the UK government marks a significant step toward enhancing fire safety standards in various accommodations. This collaboration between government authorities and experts from the fire, commercial, and housing sectors underscores the importance of prioritising the safety of individuals residing in small paying-guest accommodations.

In essence, this guide not only clarifies legal obligations but also empowers individuals to proactively enhance fire safety standards, fostering a culture of awareness, preparedness, and compliance within the small paying-guest accommodation sector. Through the diligent implementation of the principles outlined in this guide, accommodations can create safer environments for their residents and contribute significantly to overall community safety.

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