If you’re a landlord, insurance can help give you peace of mind against the unexpected. But this sort of property insurance is not always straightforward. For example, you can’t just rely on standard home insurance to cover you. And if your property is left unoccupied, you could find your cover is invalidated. Read on to discover how to check if your empty property is insured as well as other tips on finding great value landlord insurance.
Common reasons why rental properties are left empty:
- There’s a gap between tenants moving out and new ones moving in.
- You’re decorating or undergoing a complete refurbishment.
- It’s a holiday rental property and is only regularly let during the summer months.
What happens to insurance if my rental property is empty?
Like standard home insurance, many landlord insurance policies require the property to be occupied. That’s because if a property is left empty it is at greater risk of more substantial damage. For example, if a water pipe bursts it can go undetected for longer, resulting in greater damage occurring. And empty properties can also be a target for thieves.
How do I find out if my rental property is covered when it’s empty?
You’ll need to check your landlord insurance policy small print to see if you are subject to any restrictions. Look through your documents or speak to your broker for clarification.
In most cases, leaving a property empty for 30 days or more will invalidate your insurance. If this is likely to be the case, for example, you own a holiday property that is only occupied in the summer months, make sure you speak to your broker when you buy your insurance to allow greater periods of non occupancy.
If your property is left empty for an unplanned reason, for example, you do not let your property right away after a previous tenant leaves, you also need to speak to your insurance broker. Let them know the situation and be prepared to take out extra insurance cover until the property is occupied again.
Find out if your landlord insurance has any special conditions set, and stick to them
If you have arranged insurance for your rental property when it is left empty, your insurer may specify certain conditions. Make sure you know what conditions are set and stick to them.
For example, your insurer may insist that:
- Heating is left on to maintain the property at a minimum agreed temperature from October to March when damaging frosts can occur
- You make regular inspections inside and out and mail is removed.
- Services are turned off at the mains (except for electricity if you have an intruder alarm)
- Windows are kept intact and in good repair
- The property is appropriately secured with locks.
Do landlords have to take out building insurance?
As a landlord, you’re not obliged to hold property insurance. But you are obliged to keep the property in a safe, liveable condition to meet legal obligations. That means if there is a break-in or fire, you’ll be expected to put the damage right for your tenants. If you’re not insured and something happens, this could require you to find a sizeable amount of cash. Insurance buys you peace of mind that these essential costs will be met.
Do landlords need to take out contents insurance?
As a landlord, you only need to consider taking out contents insurance if you let the property fully or partly furnished. There is no legal requirement to hold this insurance. But bear in mind that if you let out a property with a washing machine or any other items, you will be expected to replace these under the terms of the rental agreement if it breaks or is damaged.
Can landlords take out a standard home insurance policy?
No. Renting out your property can increase the risk of damage occurring. Standard buildings or contents insurance does not cover you if the home is let out. This includes if you let your whole home or part of it through Airbnb.
Instead, you need to take out insurance designed for landlords.
Can I deduct the cost of landlord insurance from my tax?
Insuring your property is an allowable expense and is, therefore, tax deductible.
What does landlord insurance include?
Your landlord or buy-to-let insurance can be tailored to cover you for the things that you feel are most important. This could include:
Building insurance – This is the most basic level of landlord insurance cover, and will pay out in the event of damage to the physical building itself.
Landlord’s content insurance – If you are offering a fully furnished house or flat for rent then you can protect your furniture and other items from damage that may occur by accident or as a result of your tenants’ actions (accidental and malicious damage).
Loss of rent – If your property is damaged or becomes unliveable for a period of time then you stand to lose a considerable amount of rental income. Landlord insurance can cover you for these periods so that you’re not out of pocket. If you own the property with a mortgage, this can give you added reassurance that you can always pay your bills.
Public liability – Paying your legal costs and any compensation if a tenant or visitor is injured or property is damaged and they bring a claim against you.
Tips for saving money on your landlord insurance
Like all insurance, the best way to save money on landlord insurance is to shop around. If you don’t have time to fill in forms online or make those calls, use an independent insurance broker like Park Insurance.
Remember that the cheapest option isn’t always going to be the best option. Always talk through your cover with your broker or read all the small print so you can be sure you’re getting the level of cover you need. Otherwise, you could end up paying out more in the long run.
Find great value landlord insurance
Our experienced team at park Insurance has been helping landlords with their insurance needs for over 20 years. We’ll talk through your options to find the right level of cover to suit your budget and individual needs. Call our team on 0177 9556835 or get a quote.