There have been a number of stories in recent months about how landlords have suffered costly damage to their rental properties and have not been covered by their insurance policies. Such stories highlight the importance of carefully scrutinising what is and isn’t covered in your landlord’s insurance policy.
Following an argument, an angry tenant left his property owner with £17,000 worth of damage. The destruction included abusive graffiti, animal faeces and vandalised fixtures and fittings, which the Blackpool landlord believed may have been caused by intentionally breeding dogs in a ‘makeshift cot’. The landlord was not fully covered, as his policy excluded damage caused by tenants and animals.
There are several common exclusions that come with landlord policies. Accidental damage is not always excluded, but cover is inconsistent from one insurer to the next. Some policies include damage caused by children, for example, whilst others do not.
Many accidental damage clauses can be extended to offer additional cover. Remember, though, that your tenants should insure their own belongings – you are only obliged to ensure the structure of the building and any belongings you provide as part of the tenancy.
Animals: Chewing, fouling, scratching and tearing damage caused by animals are, as the unfortunate property owner from Blackpool found out, often not covered.
Sometimes damage caused by attempts at amateur repairs will not be covered. This might also include damage caused by cleaning. Insurers often will not cover damage unless the job was completed professionally, but a professional trader should also have professional indemnity and public liability insurance.
Malicious damage by your tenant (or by anyone when the property is vacant) is frequently excluded.
Where an insured peril might be covered but this can be argued to be as a result of malicious damage, an insurer may reject the claim. For instance, water damage may be covered, but if the damage was the result of the tenant deliberately vandalising the water pipes it may not be.
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