Airbnb accommodations are one the most popular short-term stay choices for tourists and travellers across UK cities. In many cases, they offer a more affordable, personalised experience than hotels. And some people wonder if Airbnb’s owners are doing the proper safety checks for their properties.
However, Airbnb accommodations are a relatively recent option for vacation rentals (the company was founded in 2008), and some hosts may still need to implement some processes to comply with health and safety standards. If you don’t want these concerns to ruin your holiday or getaway, you better check a few things in the room or place you have booked.
In this article, we have put together a few checks you can do to ensure your peace of mind. It is also helpful to know that failures on any of the key points outlined below may make a case for compensation claims.
Heating system’s condition
Heating and electric appliances may threaten your health if they are not in good condition. In some cases, you could refrain from using a specific appliance that doesn’t look safe. However, it may not apply to the heating system if you visit any given city during winter.
In this regard, gas boilers are the most popular choice among UK homeowners for heating their properties. For instance, approximately 85% of homes in England, Scotland, and Wales use a gas boiler.
In the UK, homeowners who rent out their properties are required by law to have their gas or oil boilers checked by a certified engineer at least once a year. It means that, in most cases, boilers in Airbnb accommodations are safe. Nevertheless, there are some signs that a gas or oil boiler is not working well and could seriously threaten your safety. For example:
Eggy or sulphurous smell coming from the boiler
It means there may be a combustion problem and possibly a gas leak.
Dark stains on the boiler or the pilot light have turned from blue to yellow
It may indicate there is a carbon monoxide (CO) leak. However, as CO is an odourless gas, the safest measure is to have a CO detector fitted to sound an alarm if the gas escapes (see next section for further details).
For the owner, this means they need an urgent boiler repair or a boiler replacement. For you, these are good reasons to switch the boiler off and contact the host.
ATTENTION: If you smell gas or suspect there is an emergency, you can call the gas emergency helpline on 0800 111 999
Airbnb accommodations are not legally required everywhere to have carbon monoxide detectors. Though, it is good for you to check if the room/place you plan to book has them installed or not.
The most common sources of carbon monoxide in an accommodation are faulty central heating systems and gas appliances. As we mentioned above, carbon monoxide is an odourless and colourless gas which can quickly cause brain damage and, in some cases, death.
Without a CO detector, carbon monoxide poisoning is hard to detect. If the Airbnb you are staying at does not have any, you can look out for the following symptoms:
- Falling unconscious
Of course, these signs can appear due to different causes (e.g. food poisoning, chronic diseases, viral infections). But being cautious and keeping an eye on them would not cause any harm.
Smoke Alarms and Fire Safety Measures
Whether it is a room or an entire property, Airbnb accommodations in the Uk should have a smoke alarm on each storey of the building. Appropriate fire extinguishers should also be available and accessible.
Depending on the type and size of the building the accommodation is located in, there should also be clearly signposted emergency exits.
Also, the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 sets the guidelines to ensure that guests are in an environment where furnishings are not likely to become inflamed from close contact with products such as candles or cigarettes.
Unsafe electrical appliances and amenities may harm you or even start a fire, causing greater damage. Airbnb hosts are not bound by law to carry out regular electrical safety checks. However, property owners should not disregard electrical safety as an electrical accident with a guest could open up a negligence case.
As a guest, you can check if wiring, cooking appliances such as cookers and kettles, sockets, and light fittings look safe. If you find that they look defective or somewhat unsafe, refrain from using them and notify the host or Airbnb support team, as appropriate.
Interesting related article: “What is Compliance?“