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Bed and breakfast legal regulations

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									   Business Regulatory Services information for small Bed & Breakfast accommodation providers

                                                                  Business Regulatory Services
                                                                        2nd floor, Laurence House
                                                                1 Catford Road, London SE6 4RU
                                                                          Fax. no. 020 8314 3143
                                                                          Enq. no. 020 8314 8492

Lewisham Bed & Breakfast Accommodation Providers

Dear Sir/Madam,

                                Starting Up a B&B
We are pleased to enclose an information pack which deals with important topics that Business
Regulatory Services deal with and you would need to know about if you are thinking of starting up a
Bed & Breakfast business that provides accommodation for tourists / visitors coming to the
Lewisham area for a short time (This pack is not intended for accommodation providers that let out
rooms to students or to people that have no other permanent place of residence).

The subjects covered are :

   •   Health & Safety
   •   Building Control
   •   Trading Standards
   •   Food Safety

Contributions to this pack have been provided by the individual teams within Business Regulatory
Services, much of which is concerned with advice & your legal obligations. Do remember you can
seek further advice from the contacts listed on any points of interpretation, or where you are not
certain what to do.

It is strongly recommended that you also contact the following agencies before starting up your

Fire Safety
London Fire Brigade
249 /259 Lewisham High St, London SE13 6NH
Tel: 020 7587 2500
fax: 020 7587 2580

London Borough of Lewisham Planning information service
5th Floor, Laurence House, 1 Catford Road, London SE6 4SW
Tel: 020 8314 7400

Please note that the contents of this document are for guidance only and should not be
considered as a definitive guide to the law. Further advice on how to comply with the various
requirements can be obtained by contacting us at the address given above before you start
your business

                                   Page 1 of 10                          22/02/2007
   Business Regulatory Services information for small Bed & Breakfast accommodation providers

                                    HEALTH & SAFETY
It is really important to make sure that your guest(s) have a safe stay. The following pieces of
advice will help you to ensure this always happens.

Please note this is only a brief guide. For fuller information please contact us - details at the end.

Risk Assessments – Walk around the building (in and out) and look for any hazards (things that
could cause harm to people) and identify if you can remove the hazard or if not what you can do to
reduce the risk.

Electrical Safety – In general portable electrical equipment such as kettles need to be tested every
1 to 2 years that they are safe and any fixed electrical installations (such as lighting) be checked for
safety at least once every five years. This should be carried out by a suitably qualified electrician.

Gas Safety - It is expected that gas appliances are checked for safety at least every 12 months by
a CORGI registered installer.

Chemicals – Always ensure that the instructions on the packaging are followed. For example
ensure that gloves are worn when using chemicals such as bleach and ensure it is stored correctly.

First Aid & Accidents – You should have a suitable first aid box and accident book. Some
serious accidents, whether they are to staff or guests, must be reported to the Incident Contact
Centre (tel: 0845 3009923). These include accidents resulting in major injury, hospitalisation, death
or where staff are off for more than 3 days as a result of an accident at work.

Insurance - You should have Public Liability insurance which covers owner’s liability to guests and
others for injury, loss and damage. If you employ staff you must also have Employers Liability

Slips and trips - Check regularly for worn carpets, lifted lino, trailing cables, loose rugs and
slippery surfaces. Keep the premises tidy and the lighting adequate. Highlight changes in floor level
and provide a warning sign for any low beams . Stairs and steps must be free from obstruction,
hand rails and banisters must be in good condition and securely fixed. Using restrictors and barriers
wherever necessary should prevent falls from windows

Manual Handling - Repeated or incorrect lifting of heavy or awkward loads such as beds,
mattresses and laundry could result in back injury. Manual handling should be kept to a minimum
and you should ensure that you ( and any staff you employ ) know how to lift properly.

Health & Safety Policy - If you employ 5 or more people you must have a written policy document
which sets out how to manage health and safety policy (this includes risk assessments)

Health & Safety Team contact details: Tel: 0208 314 6789

                                     Page 2 of 10                           22/02/2007
   Business Regulatory Services information for small Bed & Breakfast accommodation providers

                         BUILDING CONTROL SERVICES

If you are intending to let out a room on a Bed & Breakfast basis (using the existing kitchen)
Building Regulations will probably not apply.

However, if you intend making structural alterations to your property for your Bed & Breakfast
business then you will require Building Control approval.

If approval is required, then you will have to consider the following areas of these regulations, such

   •   Structure
   •   Fire safety *
   •   Sound insulation
   •   Drainage
   •   Ventilation
   •   Electrical

Fire Safety*
Where owners of business are providing sleeping accommodation such as a Bed & Breakfast type
business you will need to comply with fire safety laws, which includes carrying out a Fire Safety
Risk Assessment. In this instance you should contact the London Fire Brigade for more information
on Fire Safety law and Fire Safety Risk Assessments ( for contact details see page 1 of this
information pack ).

Building Control Services contact details :
For further information on submitting an application for Building Regulation approval, please contact
us :Tel: 020 8314 8233

For more help or advice on Building Regulations and Fire Safety on the internet visit :
Building Regulations Approved Documents
Fire safety

                                    Page 3 of 10                          22/02/2007
   Business Regulatory Services information for small Bed & Breakfast accommodation providers

                                 TRADING STANDARDS
Every time you take a booking, both you and your customer have a legal responsibility. The
following guidance will help give you an understanding of those responsibilities and help you to
avoid problems.

Civil laws - a contract
You form a contract with every customer from whom you take a booking. You make an offer to your
customer which is accepted when your customer confirms the booking (can be over the phone, in
writing or face to face). This then forms the intention of the legally binding agreement. The other
part of your contract is the consideration which is the promise to pay, either with or without a
         Please note: a contract can be binding even if nothing has been put in writing.

How a contract could be breached:
This can happen in a number of ways, for example: if the customer decides to cancel, then usually
they are in breach of contract. If you cannot provide the accommodation (for example, due to
double booking) then you are in breach of contract.

If either of you is in breach of contract, then the person who breached it may have to pay the other
compensation to cover their losses. There is no set amount of compensation and it would vary
according to each case.

Cancellations & Deposits
If your customer cancels a booking very soon after it is made, and well in advance of the
accommodation date booked, it is unlikely that you could keep a substantial proportion of the
money for the booking. A small deposit paid by the customer will generally be forfeited. However if
the accommodation can be re-let, then it is possible that the customer should not have to pay
anything at all.

If the booking is cancelled on the day it is due to be taken up, then you might be entitled to keep a
substantial sum.

We advise making your deposit, cancellation and other terms clear to your customers at the time of
booking, and then to confirm them in writing. Unless this is done you cannot, for example, debit
the customer’s credit card.

                 Be aware that not everything in writing is necessarily enforceable.

Unfair Contract Terms
Your contract will contain terms and conditions and these should not restrict or exclude liability to a
greater extent than is permitted by law. Terms that state for example “all rooms are used entirely at
your own risk” are unenforceable in law and should not be used.

Any terms and conditions in your contract should not be disproportionate to the customer. For
example, if you require the customer to pay a fee on cancellation, it is more likely to be considered
fair if there is a similar term obliging you to pay a similar fee if you cancel the booking.

You cannot bind customers to terms they have not seen – and you cannot change what is supplied
to them without their agreement. You must give them the opportunity to cancel if there are
unavoidable changes.

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   Business Regulatory Services information for small Bed & Breakfast accommodation providers

                                TRADING STANDARDS
Unfair Contract Terms continued :
The services section of the contract (such as standards of accommodation and food) are also
covered by contract law. These services should be carried out to a standard that a reasonable
person would regard as satisfactory and be as described.

If no price is agreed for the services, then the amount charged must be reasonable for those types
of services. If no time is agreed then the services must be carried out within a reasonable time. We
recommend that these aspects be agreed at the time of booking.


   -   All your bookings are covered by civil laws especially the law of contract.
   -   The party in breach of contract is liable to pay the other party reasonable damages to
       cover their loss – and sometimes an additional sum to the customer for loss of
   -   An unfair term leaves a business unprotected. It is unenforceable in law.
   -   Generally a customer should give you a reasonable opportunity to rectify the failure
       and to provide what was agreed. Otherwise you will have to pay damages
       (compensation) to the customer.
   -   Customers can breach contracts as well- this leaves them liable to pay you
       reasonable damages.

Your business is not only covered by civil law, but also by criminal law as well. You are
reminded of the following:

All descriptions (both pictures and writing) relating to your accommodation and services must be
accurate. You should be particularly careful with the accuracy of your descriptions regarding
location for example “ by the park “, and facilities for example “ All Bedrooms En-Suite “ or “AA
Three Diamond Approved” .

You should check every place where your description might be shown (for example signage,
newspaper and brochure adverts and internet sites) to ensure that your descriptions are valid and
lawful. Even the display of an expired quality grading for the AA, RAC or a similar organisation can
lead to problems.

Safety of Goods Available in Rented Accommodation
Please note that consumer protection legislation requires that goods available in rented
accommodation must be safe. Certain goods, such as electrical items and upholstered furniture, are
covered by specific regulations and due to the health risks involved with these items, you should
take particular care to ensure that they are safe and adequately labelled. A range of other items
likely to be made available in rented accommodation are also covered by safety regulations. The
best advice is to always buy your goods from a reputable source. If you buy second hand goods
you will need to check them for compliance with the relevant regulations.

                                    Page 5 of 10                         22/02/2007
   Business Regulatory Services information for small Bed & Breakfast accommodation providers

                                 TRADING STANDARDS
Displaying prices in B and B’s or hotels
You must display a price list in the reception area or at the entrance to your accommodation,
    • You have less than 4 bedrooms or less than 8 beds;
    • Accommodation is provided “ancillary to business” this could be for instance in a Nursing
        Home or a University Hall of residence;
    • You normally let rooms to the same person for 21 nights or more, such as in Old Peoples’
        Homes or long-term guest houses, or
    • You only accept pre-booked guests.

How the Sign Should Be Worded
The notice you display should include:
    • The price of a bedroom for one person, for example: £65 a night, if all the rooms are the
        same price, or the lowest and highest price , for example: £65-£90 if there is a range of
    • The price of a bedroom for 2 people;
    • The price of a bed in any other type of room.

All prices must be in a prominent position and be easy to read on the notice which should include
any compulsory service charges (and should make it clear that these charges are included). You
need to make it clear if meals are included in the price, for example: single bedroom £30 per night
inclusive of breakfast.

The price you display must include VAT, and the notice should state that VAT has been included. If
however, most of your trade is with business customers, you may indicate that prices exclude VAT,
provided you either:

    •   Display VAT inclusive prices alongside with equal prominence, or
    •   Display a prominent statement of the Vat payable (in monetary terms) in addition to the Vat
        exclusive price.

If you advertise your prices to the public (such as on a sign outside your premises, or in a brochure
or tourist guide) you should be careful to include non-optional additional charges in your advertised
prices, and ensure that you stick to them when you are billing your customers. If you charge more
than your advertised price, you could be giving a misleading price indication which is not only a
criminal offence but could also be a breach of contract.

If there is a possibility that your prices will vary during the duration of an advertisement then you
should clarify this, for example: showing prices for the high and low season.

Credit Card Surcharges
It is legal to charge customers a surcharge for using a credit card to settle their bill. However if you
do this, you must make the fact clearly known by:

    •   Displaying a notice near each public entrance and at each place where payment is made,
        or becomes payable;
    •   Telling customers on the telephone before they commit themselves and book;
    •   Including the information in your advertisements.

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   Business Regulatory Services information for small Bed & Breakfast accommodation providers

                                 TRADING STANDARDS
Credit Card Surcharges continued:
If your normal prices are in cash, the information will be, for example:

Credit Cards 2% Surcharge payable
Credit Cards £1.00 Surcharge payable

If your prices are normally shown as credit card prices, then this information should be clear. You
would then probably show a discount for cash, for example: Double Room £44.50 per night (Credit
Cards) 4% discount for cash.

Power of Trading Standards In Relation to Accommodation Pricing
You should remember that Trading Standards Officers can call at any reasonable time to check that
you are complying with this legislation. Officers also monitor advertisements and deal with
complaints from the public. You could be prosecuted if you contravene this legislation and cannot
show that you have taken reasonable precautions to prevent this happening.

Trading Standards contact details:
Consumer Advice: 08454 040506 Other Enquiries: 020 8314 7759 Fax: 020 8314 3138

                                     Page 7 of 10                          22/02/2007
   Business Regulatory Services information for small Bed & Breakfast accommodation providers

                                        FOOD SAFETY

Accommodation businesses providing food or drink of any kind are required to register with their
local authority prior to opening. This involves completion of a simple form, available from the Food
Safety Team.

This Authority is required to inspect all of the food businesses in its area on a regular, routine basis
to ensure standards of food hygiene and food safety. Once registered a business will be included in
the routine inspection programme and subject to visits from food team officers. In certain
circumstances, alternative enforcement strategies may apply , for example a self assessment

During 2007 Lewisham Council, along with other London Local Authorities, will be publishing
information for the public about hygiene standards in food businesses. Each business will be
awarded a star rating ranging from no stars to five. You may wish to publicise the star rating of your
bed and breakfast business.

The main risks associated with a bed and breakfast business are food poisoning and food allergies:

Food Poisoning
Food poisoning is a much higher risk in premises offering evening meals than those offering
breakfast only. The risk increases when food is prepared in advance. You can minimise the risk
with correct food hygiene knowledge, by implementing good food hygiene practices and by the use
and maintenance of sound premises.

Food Allergies
Food allergies are a complex issue with the potential to be life threatening.
Therefore you should have a good knowledge of food allergies. Comprehensive and accurate menu
information should be available to your customers.

Food Safety Management
Before you open for business you should think very carefully about how you will make sure that
food you provide will be safe to eat. You must also write down simple details of what you will do and
what records you will keep to make sure food is safe to eat.

Examples of areas to consider :

   •   Cross-contamination – the passing of bacteria from raw, unprepared food to cooked and
       ready to eat foods – must be avoided.
   •   All foods should be kept covered or in lidded containers. Date marking is useful for effective
       stock control.
   •   Fridges must be correctly stocked, with raw meat stored at the bottom and kept separate
       from ready to eat foods.
   •   Fridges storing ‘high risk’ and perishable foods such as meat and dairy products, must keep
       the food at a temperature of 8°C or less. To achieve this the air temperature of the fridge
       needs to be between 1°C and 5°C. A thermometer should be available and the temperature
       checked regularly. Written temperature records are recommended. The recommended
       temperature for a freezer is -18°C or lower.

                                     Page 8 of 10                           22/02/2007
   Business Regulatory Services information for small Bed & Breakfast accommodation providers

                                       FOOD SAFETY

Food Safety Management continued:

   •   Eggs should be stored in the fridge.
   •   Defrosting of foods should be carried out in the fridge. If this is not practicable, then food
       should be left at room temperature for as short a time as possible.

The Food Standards Agency has developed a pack for small catering businesses called ‘Safer
Food Better Business’. This pack will help you comply with the regulations.

‘Safer food Better Business’ consists of a series of safe method fact sheets, based on the Food
Standards Agencies Food Hygiene 4Cs campaign - cross-contamination, cleaning, chilling and
cooking, which detail how the key areas of food preparation and handling are dealt with safely. The
caterer works through the safe method fact sheets and selects those applicable to them and then
adopts them or adapts them to their own business.

The safe method fact sheets provide a means of achieving critical safety points and wherever
possible offer safer alternatives and advice as to which means is preferable.

Premises Requirements

Kitchens and food handling areas
    • Surfaces – sound condition, capable of being effectively cleaned
    • Floor covering – smooth, impervious, washable floor covering. Carpet not
      recommended, but where used must be kept clean & in good
    • Ideally washing machines / tumble dryers should not be located in the kitchen. If alternative
      location not possible, then these activities must be carried out at a separate time to any food
      preparation and the work surface thoroughly cleaned before recommencing food
      preparation. Dirty laundry must not be stored in the kitchen area.
    • Adequate provision (including drainage) for washing food, equipment and hands.
    • Adequate storage and preparation facilities.
    • Adequate lighting and ventilation
    • Steps must be taken to prevent and /or control entry of pests onto your premises. Pests
      include: mice, rats, birds and insects e.g. cockroaches
    • Equipment - in good condition, able to be effectively cleaned & disinfected as

Handling Practices
High standards of personal hygiene at all times, to include:
    • no smoking in the kitchen area
    • not carrying out any food preparation activities when suffering from sickness and/or
        diarrhoea, including 48 hours after the last bout of symptoms
    • wearing of appropriate clothing, removal of jewellery.
    • washing hands - on entering kitchen; after handling raw meat (including sausages, bacon)
        or eggs, after contact with pets, using the toilet ,etc.
    • not allowing pets into the kitchen, including to be fed – if this cannot be prevented, pets
        must be kept out during food preparation and all surfaces thoroughly cleaned and
        disinfected as appropriate before food preparation begins.

                                     Page 9 of 10                            22/02/2007
   Business Regulatory Services information for small Bed & Breakfast accommodation providers

                                       FOOD SAFETY
Handling practices continued:
   • Effective cleaning must be carried out, including disinfection/sanitising as appropriate.

Food Hygiene Training
Food handlers must appreciate the essentials of food hygiene including:

   •   personal health and hygiene
   •   food poisoning
   •   temperature control
   •   cross contamination
   •   food storage
   •   foreign body contamination
   •   cleaning procedures

In particular, food handlers should be instructed on any control or monitoring points identified by
your Food Safety Management Procedure.

Food Safety Team contact details : Tel 020 8314 6789

                                    Page 10 of 10                          22/02/2007

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