Regulation in the self-catering industry: Setting up your business

When you are setting up your self-catering business, it’s important to be aware of the legal requirements as early on in the process as possible.

Fiona Campbell, Chief Executive of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC) explains,

“This is especially prevalent right now due to legislative changes happening in our industry. The good news is professional self-caterers  are already passionate about achieving high standards and this includes being fully legally  compliant. It’s important that our guests (and the wider public) are aware of that. We are proud of our standards and commitment to providing the very best experience we can.”

This article is the next installment in our regulation in the self-catering industry series, highlighting title deeds, planning permission and more to ensure your holiday rental is fully compliant.

Planning permission and local guidelines

Do your research, rules differ and currently they change from one area to another, depending on your local government. Find out what planning permission and guidelines apply to the area your holiday rental is located.  It is possible that ‘Change of Use’ planning permission will be required – especially if you are converting a building recently used for residential purposes. Even if you’re confident that your self-catering property already has the appropriate planning permissions, it is always worth taking the time to check.

Title deeds

Read over your title deeds to ensure there is nothing in there that restricts you from operating your property as a  holiday rental. Restrictive covenants1 on apartment blocks or inherited property is common, check there are none that apply to you, if they do you risk your business being closed down immediately.

Business rates vs Council tax

In the UK, there are variations of what qualifies your self-catering property to be valued for business rates².

  • In England and Scotland, if your property is available to let for 140 days or more per year, it will be rated as a self-catering property and valued for business rates.
  • In Wales if your property is available to let for 140 days or more per year and  actually booked for 70 days, it is rated as a self-catering property and will be valued for business rates.

If your property is available to let for 139 days per year or less, you will have to pay council tax.  If you have any doubts about what applies to you, it’s best to contact your local authority.

Takeaway advice

Starting your self-catering business is nothing to fear. If you ensure that your legal foundation is strong it will help you to create a lasting prosperous business.

¹ Restrictions placed on your property which will limit what you can/cannot do to your property.
² Sources: GOV.UK and

Read the next article in the series