Whether you are a landlord with a portfolio of properties to be let out or just a single property, one common denominator shared by both landlord types is that let properties are an investment that need to be protected. Yet, according to the Association of Residential Letting Agents, landlords often overlook a key protection, that of adequate insurance coverage. Standard home insurance does not cover a property occupied by tenants, so in order to have effective protection landlords insurance is required.
Landlords insurance, also known as let property insurance, covers a number of different aspects and you can choose a policy type that best suits your particular needs. Bear in mind though when deciding what particular coverage you want your insurance to contain — such as building coverage or building and contents, legal expenses protection — it is crucial not to leave yourself underinsured since you do not want to be left in a situation of having to pay thousands out of pocket for an investment that is supposed to be making you money, not costing you money. Also be aware that the level of coverage you are able to receive and how much the policy costs you will be determined by the insurer depending on factors such as the type of tenant letting your property, with high risk tenants such as students looked upon less favorably than professional tenants.
Building coverage is almost certainly the very least insurance protection you have on your own home, and it is just as important to have for a let property. This will protect the building itself against physical damage as the result of a fire, burst pipe or other accidental catastrophe, saving you from having to bear the full cost of repair and rebuilding work that needs to be done. Many insurance providers will also offer the option of coverage against malicious damage done by tenants, and also a further option that will compensate for a set percentage of rent loss while the property is uninhabitable.
Even if you are letting an unfurnished property, it will still contain contents that are your responsibility so it can be worthwhile including contents coverage in the let insurance policy you obtain. Not only will limited contents coverage compensate you up to a pre-determined amount for loss or damage to fixtures that belong to you, such as kitchen appliances, curtains and carpets, many policies can also include liability coverage in case a tenant claims injury from a defective fixture considered to be the landlord’s obligation to maintain, for instance a fall caused by a loose carpet or burns caused by a faulty stove. For furnished properties, when the cost of replacing damaged contents will be more expensive than just replacing built-in fixtures, full contents coverage can be obtained.
Another crucial aspect of landlords insurance is rent protection. Chances are you have money tied up in your let property, a mortgage payment to meet, for which you rely upon receiving regular monthly cheques from your tenant. Unfortunately, in the housing rental market the reliability of tenants is not a guarantee, whether through sheer irresponsibility on the tenants’ part or a genuine inability to pay, such as if the tenant has suffered a recent job loss and is struggling to meet the monthly payments. Rent guarantee insurance will ensure you still have money coming in every month for a pre-determined period, so if you cannot afford to miss that monthly income should your tenant stop paying, having rent protection will give you enormous peace of mind.
Since landlords risk incurring costly legal fees, it is advisable to include legal expenses insurance in your policy. If you are forced to pay solicitor fees to deal with tenants who default on their rent or who make a claim against you, or court fees for an eviction hearing, the cost will mount up quickly, so it is certainly in a landlord’s best interests to be covered for such situations.
One other helpful provision of landlords insurance is emergency assistance, which will provide compensation in the event service people are called out to the property, for instance if there is an electricity, gas or plumbing problem that is not the result of a lack of maintenance. Most policies will cover costs for parts and labour, thereby sparing you the expense and trouble of fixing the problem yourself.
Remember, tenants do not own the home they are living in, and as such you cannot rely upon them to treat your property with the same care and respect that you would if you were living in it. It is up to you to defend yourself and your property against the inherent risks that come with being a landlord, and one important way to do so is to avoid cutting corners when it comes to getting adequate insurance coverage.