Had an interesting visit last week after a nice couple Glenn & Debbie Hall had contacted the Office and asked if they needed a Fire Risk Assessment carried out on their “Garden Room” in Sunbury on Thames which they had just started to “rent out” through Airb&b.

So, there I was, sitting in the last of the sunshine, looking at the swans glide past in this idyllic backwater of the River Thames and explaining that ‘yes’, they most certainly do!

Back when the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 was instigated and Mr Sadiq Khan was the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Communities and Local Government his Department issued a Guidance Document entitled HM Government…Do you have paying guests?

This identified that the Law in regards to Fire Safety applies to guest accommodation in small premises, such as B&Bs, Guest houses, Farmhouses, Inns and Restaurants with rooms, Self-catering accommodation, such as Houses, Cottages, Chalets, Fats and holiday Caravans and Hostels and small Bunkhouses and therefore also this self-contained “Garden Room.”  If you have any paying guests, even in your own home, you must comply with the law on Fire Safety.

“A Fire in a Small premise is just as dangerous as one in a larger property.”

“Nearly all of the people who die in Fires in this Country are trapped in domestic premises.”

I explained that the law introduced in October 2006 – known as the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, made them responsible for taking steps to protect Guests from the risk of Fire and the foundation of this was to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment and, where necessary improve the Fire Safety measures and keep them under review.

The nice Gentleman Glenn said “But up until recent events, I hadn’t even heard of a Fire Risk Assessment and now you’re telling me that I’m breaking the Law if I don’t get one!” I did sympathise but what could I say other than, “Didn’t your Mortgage Company tell you when you took out your Mortgage? “No.”

“And your Insurance Company didn’t tell you when you took out your Insurance?” “No, they didn’t.” He said with the same exasperation I had seen several times before. “I am certainly going to take it up with them though!” He said staring at the River. “So, what happens if I don’t do an Assessment?”  “You are breaking the Law, and you could be putting people’s lives at risk.” I outlined the often repeated quote and went into my normal outline;  “The point of a Fire Risk Assessment is to reduce the risks and plan how to keep people safe if there is a Fire. If you fail to do it, you might be putting your guests, your property and your business at risk. Also, you may be inspected by the Fire Service, as part of its responsibility to enforce the law or, someone staying with you may report you to them if they feel at risk”.

“If the Fire Service visit and consider the measures you have taken or plan to take are not good enough to adequately protect people, they will give you a chance to put things right but if you fail to do this, the Fire Service may serve a ‘Notice’ on you that means you must put in place better Fire Safety measures. Ultimately, they could take legal action against you.”

Glenn took his responsibility seriously and said “Come on then, where do we start?”

I wonder how many other ‘Hosts’ on Airbnb are this responsible – perhaps Guests should check!