It is crucial in any rental agreement that both the tenant and the landlord understand the terms of their contract and that they are clear as to which party is responsible for what. That way, both are aware of their rights and of their liabilities in the event of any damage that is caused to the property.
As a loose rule, landlords are responsible for the structural elements of the property and tenants are responsible for any damage caused to the contents of the property but, as we shall see, this is not always the case.
Buildings insurance is a form of home insurance that covers the property itself and not the contents. Although it is not a legal requirement for every property to have buildings insurance, it is highly recommended that they do so, especially rented properties.
In this article, we are going to take a look at buildings insurance and find out who is responsible for it, the landlord or the tenant?
Is the landlord or tenant responsible for buildings insurance?
It is the landlord’s responsibility to organise and pay for buildings insurance. However, no property is legally obliged to have buildings insurance or any form of home insurance, but it is highly recommended that they do.
Buildings insurance is designed to protect the structure of the building that is owned by the landlord and is, therefore, their responsibility. The landlord will often factor in the cost of buildings insurance in the rent paid by the tenant.
So let’s jump in and take a closer look at what buildings insurance is and what it does and does not cover.
What is buildings insurance?
Buildings insurance is a subset of home insurance.
Home insurance is divided into buildings insurance and contents insurance. Contents insurance covers the contents of a property, such as electrical equipment, art, furniture, jewellery and so on.
Buildings insurance covers the property itself, such as pipes, walls, doors, windows, electric cables, drains, and so on. Damage to the building and structure could be damage caused by fire, theft, vehicle accident, a fallen tree, or other causes that should be outlined by your provider.
What does buildings insurance cover?
Buildings insurance covers the cost of repairing damage to the structure of a property.
As well as property damage and repair costs to the structural elements of the building, buildings insurance usually also includes:
- The costs of renting temporary accommodation. If the property is unfit for living in then buildings insurance usually pays for the cost of somewhere to stay until it is fixed.
- Home owner’s liability. Buildings insurance usually covers any costs caused by the breach of your legal responsibility as a homeowner. For example, if a guest is injured by something in your home, then buildings insurance will cover any costs they require after the accident.
What doesn’t buildings insurance cover?
There are some things that buildings insurance does not cover. These include:
- General wear and tear. If damage has been caused to the property slowly and over a long period of time, then it is unlikely to be covered by buildings insurance.
- Gates and fences. Gates and fences are not considered part of the property’s structure and so are not included in most insurance plans.
- Animal habitation. If you have rats, wasps, mice, insects, bird nests, or any other animal issues, buildings insurance does not cover the cost of their removal or of any other pest control services.
Is buildings insurance a legal requirement?
Home insurance as a whole is not a legal requirement, but many mortgage brokers will stipulate that home insurance must be taken out for them to offer a mortgage.
If you are a landlord, the cost of damage to your property could be significant and you will only have the tenant’s deposit to cover any damage that is done. So it is highly advisable for the sake of both the landlord and the tenant that a rented property has buildings insurance.
Who is responsible for fixing the property if it doesn’t have buildings insurance?
If damage is caused to a rented property, it is important that it is reported to the landlord as soon as possible. If the property is not covered by buildings insurance then either the landlord or the tenant will have to pay for the repair costs depending on how the damage was incurred.
If damage was caused by anyone who is not the tenant’s responsibility – that could be a tradesperson, a neighbour, or a burglar – then it is the landlord’s responsibility to repair and pay for the cost of fixing it.
However, if damage was deliberately caused by a tenant, then it is usually their responsibility to pay for the repair costs. This may come out of their deposit or be paid for directly by them. In either case, the tenant should communicate the issue to the landlord right away to ensure that there are no issues that arise in the future.
If there is a structural problem with the property or if part of it is in poor condition, then the landlord must take responsibility and pay for the cost of fixing the issue. The landlord is responsible for the building exterior, the plumbing (including toilets, sinks, and baths), pipes, electrics, waterworks, and the central heating. So any problem with these should be fixed and paid for by the landlord, as long as the damage wasn’t inflicted by the tenant.
What is landlord insurance?
Landlord insurance protects landlords against some of the risks that are associated with a rental property. It usually includes both buildings and contents insurance, and it can also offer cover against other problems, such as late rent payments, property owner liability, or tenant defaults.
Landlord insurance is particularly recommended for landlords who own more than one property or who are engaged in multiple property management, such as owning a block of flats.
Does buildings insurance cover the tenant’s belongings?
As we saw earlier, buildings insurance is not the same as contents insurance. Contents insurance provides cover for damage or theft of belongings. But even if the landlord has their own belongings covered by contents insurance, this does not provide cover for the tenant’s belongings.
Can tenants get insurance policies on a rented property?
Tenants can insure their personal property with a renters insurance policy – sometimes known as a tenant’s insurance policy. There are two types of renter’s insurance: tenancy liability insurance and tenant’s contents insurance.
Tenancy liability insurance
Tenancy liability insurance provides cover for any accidental damage that the tenant causes to the landlord’s contents or any other items that the landlord has provided them with. It also provides cover for accidental damage caused by the tenant to some of the structural elements of the property, but it is important to clarify exactly what is and isn’t covered by the policy.
Tenant’s contents insurance
Tenant’s contents insurance covers the personal possessions of the tenants in the event of a fire, theft, accidental damage, or other insured risks. It is advised that tenants get this if they have belongings that are particularly valuable or meaningful.
Landlords are responsible for organising buildings insurance, not tenants. However, there is no legal requirement for them to do so, but they should, as in most cases, they will be responsible for paying for any damage or repairs costs required to fix the structure of the building.