Are you insured for re-housing costs if your rental suffers damage?
Mon 09 Jan 2023
As a contract-holder, you may think that if anything happens to the dwelling you’re renting that makes it uninhabitable – e.g. a flood, storm damage or a fire – your landlord has to find you somewhere else to live and cover the cost.
But that’s not necessarily the case. Generally speaking, it’s not legally down to the landlord to find you alternative accommodation, and they’re only obliged to pay for the costs of re-housing you if it’s clear that the damage to the dwelling was their fault. So, if you reported a leak and the landlord didn’t deal with it, which resulted in the dwelling flooding, then they would be responsible for the cost of re-housing you. But if there was a bad storm and a tree fell on the house, you could be on your own.
The Local Authority does have a duty to rehouse contract-holders that have been made homeless, but there’s no guarantee how quickly that would happen and what type of emergency accommodation you might be offered.
(sources: https://helix-law.co.uk/what-are-a-landlords-obligations-to-their-tenants-if-rented-property-is-made-uninhabitable-by-fire-or-flood/ & https://www.holmes-hills.co.uk/news/2012/august/landlord-tenant-law-dealing-with-uninhabitable-premises/)
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Don’t landlords have insurance for this?
Although many landlords do have insurance to cover re-housing and alternative accommodation costs, if they had been negligent in meeting their property maintenance obligations, it’s highly unlikely the insurance would pay out. And while most landlords would probably do the decent thing and make sure you weren’t left homeless or out of pocket, you can’t rely on that.
So, to give you peace of mind that you’ll be covered for the cost of finding somewhere else to live if your current home becomes uninhabitable, the best thing to do is take out your own insurance.
What does a contract-holder insurance policy cover?
Policies in the market will vary, but the cover within our own comprehensive contract-holder insurance will also cover you for either your lost rent or any reasonable extra accommodation expenses occurred for your family and pets in the event that your home can not be lived in because it has been damaged by something which is insured under your policy. (Subject to terms, conditions, and policy limits). If your landlord’s building insurer is liable for these costs, then they must cover them.
In addition, our contract-holder policy can cover you for: personal items, including clothing and jewellery; furniture and soft furnishings; electrical items and accidental damage to your landlord’s furniture, fixtures and fittings.
What about rent – do I still have to pay the landlord if I’m not living in the dwelling?
Most occupation contracts will have a clause to say that you don’t have to pay any rent while the dwelling is uninhabitable, unless the damage was your fault. For example, clause 4.3 of the Government’s model tenancy agreement states:
‘Where the Property is uninhabitable because of damage caused to the Property by an insured risk then, unless the damage was caused by the Tenant’s negligence or failure to comply with the Tenant’s obligations under this agreement, the Tenant shall not be required to pay rent until the Property is fit for occupation and use.’
However, if you want your landlord’s insurer to pay for your alternative accommodation, then you must keep paying rent to your landlord for the uninhabitable dwelling – otherwise you’d be living rent free, and the landlord would be out of pocket because their insurer won’t pay for both your accommodation and their lost rent.
If you’d like to talk through exactly what we can cover you for, just call Bode Insurance on 01903 890044, email email@example.com or you can easily get a quote online via the website.