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Accommodation start up factsheet

There are a number of issues and regulations that you need to be aware of before you open an accommodation establishment. Outlined below is a list of contacts to help you.

Planning Permission

If you are starting a new business from scratch, in some cases you will require planning permission for a change of use to the property. Make early contact with the Council’s Planning and Building Control Services, to ensure that they will give approval before undertaking any expensive refurbishment.

Contact: the duty Planning Officer. Tel: 01832 742225.

Fire Safety

The fire safety law changed in October 2006. The new law:


  • Emphasizes preventing fires and reducing risk
  • Makes it your responsibility to ensure the safety of everyone who uses your premises and in the immediate vicinity
  • Does away with the need for fire certificates.

A set of guides has been developed to tell you what you have to do to comply with fire safety law, help you to carry out a fire risk assessment and identify the general fire precautions you need to have in place.

For further information log on to

www.communities.gov.uk/fire/firesafety/firesafetylaw/aboutguides/ or contact 01604 797182.

Food Hygiene Legislation and Health and Safety

Your business will need to be registered with the Council’s Environmental Health Service, as all properties are subject to inspections for food hygiene and dependent on size for Health and Safety. You must register your food business 28 days prior to opening. Environmental Health will send you a new business pack and the relevant registration forms, which will assist you in ensuring you comply with current legislation. An officer will then arrange to visit the premises to provide any further advice on food safety and if applicable health and safety.

Contact: Environmental Health. Tel: 01832 742167

Council Tax and Business Rates

Your accommodation is likely to be liable to Council Tax or Business Rates. The Council’s Revenues Service should be contacted to advise you on current legislation. Contact: 
Revenues on 01832 742150. You can also contact the Valuation Office Agency in Northampton on 01604 445900 or log on to http://www.voa.gov.uk/.


Every business needs good quality signs to attract passing trade and show pre-booked guests that they have arrived. Some signs are classed as advertising; others (such as white on brown signs) count as road directions. You must seek advice from the Council’s Planning Services before commissioning and setting up any signs for your premises. For white on brown signs the first step is to contact the highways department of the county council who will advise you about procedures, legal policy and the cost of such signs.

Contact: East Northamptonshire Council Planning Services. Tel: 01832 742000.
Highways Department – Tel: 01604 883400.

Inspection Schemes

Quality in Tourism (QiT) is the assessment service provided for VisitEngland, the England Tourist Board. They carry out the assessments and handle the administration of the national quality assessment schemes on behalf of VisitEngland. Please contact the following organisation for information on the accommodation schemes in England and how to join:
Quality in Tourism (0845 300 6996) http://www.qualityintourism.com/
AA (01256 844455) (for B&B’s and hotels only)

Customer Service Centre, Oundle

Once a property has been assessed it will be promoted through the Customer Service Centre in Oundle. Tel: Oundle Customer Service Centre on 01832 274333.


If you start offering serviced or self-catering accommodation, you need to consider whether you have adequate insurance cover. Most household policies will not cover (i) your use of the premises for business purposes, (ii) your legal liability to employees or paying guests, or (iii) any theft or damage to your property by guests.

Contact: You should contact your existing insurers as soon as possible.

Accommodation Prices

If you have serviced accommodation premises with four or more letting bedrooms, or eight letting beds and all your guests do not book in advance, you need to comply with the Tourism (Sleeping Accommodation Price Display) Order 1977.

The order requires you to display prominently in your reception area, the standard price of overnight accommodation for a single, double and any other type of room.

You must also comply with the following:


  • Service charge: all prices must be inclusive of any service charge, and this must be stated
  • VAT: if VAT is charged, the prices must either include Vat, or exclude it and state the cash amount along with the price
  • Inclusive Meals: if prices are inclusive of meals, this must be stated along with the meals included.


Record of Guests

All serviced and self-catering accommodation must keep a record of all guests over the age of 16 (Immigration (Hotel records) Order 1972, as amended).

• You need to record for all guests, on arrival:
Full name and nationality
• For all non-British, Irish or Commonwealth guests, on arrival:
Passport number and place of issue (or other document which shows their identity and nationality).
• For all non-British, Irish or Commonwealth guests, on/before departure:

Details of their next destination (including address, if known)

You must keep each guest’s details for at least 12 months and have the register available for inspection by a police officer at all times.

Equality and Human Rights

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has a statutory remit to protect and monitor human rights, including disability. The Equality Act came into force from October 2010 providing a modern, single legal framework with clear, streamlined law to more effectively tackle disadvantage and discrimination. Visit http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/  on guidance for businesses.

South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP)

SEMLEP supports the creation better quality private sector jobs in Northamptonshire. For details of current business start up and marketing opportunities available, for more info visit their website.

Useful Websites

Promoting the district of East Northamptonshire, the council’s website promotes
accommodation that has been quality assessed.
The official site of Visit England, the England Tourist Board.
VisitBritain - Marketing Britain overseas and developing the visitor economy.
A new website dedicated to the promotion of the Nene Valley.

Legislation for Accommodation Providers

Online legislative guidance for accommodation providers. Includes details of publications for sale to assist with running a successful business.