Rules and regulations
You don’t need a specific licence or qualification to open or run a B&B but there are areas of law you need to be aware of. It’s important to bear in mind fire regulations from the outset as you will need to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment and may have to make some adjustments to the property as a result.
Before you put any concrete plans in place, it's best to consult with your local authority planning office. If your prospective B&B is situated in a tourist hotbed, it's highly likely the local authority will have a tourism plan, and they may take a dim view if you attempt to start your hotel outside the designated tourist area; it's prudent to check this at the outset, rather than waste thousands of pounds on a project which the local authority will never permit.
Furthermore, all extensions or significant alterations to your property need to be done by the book so make sure you have the appropriate planning permission from the local authority and adhere to building regulations before you start any work. Thankfully, you can apply for planning approval and building approval at the same time, so there's no need to go back and forth.
You may also need to apply to your local planning office for a change of use of your property if you’re planning to have more than three guest rooms, or don’t plan to live at the B&B yourself. This can take several weeks to be processed so it’s important you make sure it’s one of your top priorities if it applies to your business.
As running a B&B involves serving food you will need to follow rules on food safety. It’s worth getting the environmental health officer round to inspect your kitchen very early on in the planning process as you may find you need to make some alterations which could affect your budget. David Weston recommends doing a food hygiene course which can be completed within a day or two. You can also obtain most of the information you need from the Food Standards Agency.
Depending on what kind of B&B you plan to run, there may also be some licences you need to apply for in order to provide certain services such as serving alcohol, playing music or providing a television in 15 or more rooms used by paying guests.
The big one you need to remember is registering with HMRC for tax purposes. You can run the business as a sole trader, which means you wouldn’t have to register as a limited company or open a separate business account. However, you must register as self-employed within 100 days of starting to trade, and you will need to keep meticulous records of all business-related income and outgoings.