Homesharing properties – such as the kind offered on Airbnb – will be independently safety checked for the first time in the UK.
Quality in Tourism’s “Safe, Clean and Legal” assessment scheme has been rolled out by the Short-Term Accommodation Association (STAA) to ensure its registered properties are fit for purpose, safe and legally compliant.
Quality in Tourism said the move had been taken “to ensure the safety of guests and to protect homeowners”.
The STAA piloted the scheme last year and has started to roll it out across its members, from homeowners who let their property for a couple of weeks per year, to large companies that manage numerous rental properties.
Safety credentials included as part of the checks including making sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors work; ensuring accommodation is clean and meets customer expectation and guaranteeing the property is legally compliant with appropriate insurances and certificates.
Each property will be assessed annually.
Deborah Heather, director, Quality in Tourism, said: “The lack of assessment in this sector has been shockingly lacking, putting customers at real risk of injury or worse.
"As the popularity of short-term holiday lets has been increasing throughout the country, the consumer has become more and more vulnerable.
“Until now assessment of short-term lets has been non-existent creating a major disparity between the health and safety requirements in accommodation such as hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs; and short-term rentals from sites such as Airbnb.
“Consumers have assumed that they are safe when renting from shared economy booking platforms, but the reality is that it isn’t mandatory for accommodation to even install a smoke alarm.
"This announcement is a major step forward for the industry and we’re proud to be a part of it.”
Merilee Karr, chair of the STAA, added: “This is a really exciting announcement for the short-term letting industry in the UK and beyond.
"As chief executive of a member company, as well STAA chair, I am passionate about setting the bar for high standards in our growing industry and delighted that short-term accommodation hosts and property management companies can now all apply to be independently assessed and accredited on their “safe, clean and legal” standards.
“It is a great example of the concrete steps that the STAA is taking to increase consumer transparency and create an environment for the responsible growth of the short-term accommodation industry."