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Could tenants be invalidating your landlord insurance?

5 minutes

For most landlords, the relationship with their tenants will be a positive one.

However, problems can easily arise when a tenant makes a mistake that could invalidate your landlord insurance. 

Both you as a landlord and your tenant have a responsibility to ensure the property is kept to a high standard. Although often unintentional, if something happens to the property and there’s evidence the tenant didn’t fulfil their responsibilities, your claim may be rejected. 

Discover our guide to find out all about the different things that could invalidate your landlord insurance and how you can prevent them happening. 

What can invalidate landlord insurance?

There are a number of factors that can invalidate your landlord or contents insurance in the UK, including: 

  • Leaving a house vacant. If you fail to inform your insurer when a property will be unoccupied for an extended period of time, any insurance claims for that period may be invalid. Different policies will vary in terms of the length of this period, but usually it is set at 30 days or more.
    Solution: Add a clause in the tenancy agreement that states tenants must inform you in advance if they’re leaving the property empty for 30 days or more. 
  • Vermin/pest infestations. Most insurers don’t cover the cost of any damage caused by pests or vermin (rats, birds or insects) inside the home. Accidental damage (such as a bird crashing into a window) is covered, but an infestation caused by unhygienic living areas, holes in the walls or a neglected garden isn’t. 
    Solution: Tenants should inform you immediately if they spot any pests or vermin. It is then your responsibility to tackle the problem. 
  • Losing/leaving keys. A tenant losing their keys or leaving them in a public place (such as under a plant pot) is a serious concern. In the wrong hands, a burglar can access your house and steal your possessions. As this is unforced entry, it won’t normally be covered under your insurance policy. 
    Solution: Make sure your tenant never leaves their keys in a place where others could access them. If keys are lost or stolen, contact your insurer immediately. Some insurance policies will cover the cost of replacing the locks to ensure the property is secure.
  • Leaving the house unsecure. Not locking doors, leaving windows open and failing to activate a burglar alarm when you leave the house will invalidate your insurance in the event of a burglary. 
    Solution: Ensure tenants understand the risks of leaving a house unsecured when out. 

Renovating your home. Renovation is often part and parcel of renting out a property, and for the most part, this won’t affect your home insurance. However, if you’re planning on making some major changes it’s worth checking if your insurance will cover you if something goes wrong. Additionally, having builders in your house can impact its security, and invalidate your insurance if anything gets damaged or stolen. 

Solution: Inform your insurer if you’re carrying out any major renovations. If you’re hiring builders, check they have suitable insurance and let your insurer know.

What are my responsibilities as a landlord?

In order to prevent the above issues from occurring, you as a landlord have a set of responsibilities. These apply before a tenancy begins and during the period that tenants are living in the property.

They include:

  • Making sure the property is habitable and safe. Before a tenant moves in, it’s your job to make sure the property is well maintained. This includes removing health risks and hazards, such as damp or damage caused by previous tenants. 
  • Protecting your tenant’s deposit. You must place your tenant’s deposit in a protected scheme and return it as soon as their tenancy ends.
  • Repairs and maintenance. You are responsible for any repairs that need to be carried out during the tenancy. You should give your tenants appropriate notice if you or a qualified person needs to access the property. 
  • Regularly checking gas and electric appliances. You must arrange an annual gas safety check and ensure each floor has a working smoke alarm. You should also provide your tenants with a copy of relevant safety certificates. 
If you fail to inform your insurer when a property will be unoccupied for an extended period of time, any insurance claims for that period may be invalid.

What are a tenant’s responsibilities?

Your tenant also has responsibilities during their tenancy. To ensure they are aware of these responsibilities, you should provide a copy of the government’s how to rent checklist, which includes: 

  • Paying rent. The tenant must pay the rent on time. They must also pay any additional bills, broadband or council tax to the relevant companies. 
  • Look after the property. It is the tenant’s responsibility to keep the property in the condition it was in at the start of their tenancy. This also means making sure the property is secure and that the water supply is turned off if they are away during the winter. Their tenants’ liabilities insurance doesn’t cover their possessions, so recommend they take out their own tenants’ content insurance – especially for student or shared houses.
  • Give notice. Tenants must give suitable notice if they want to leave (as stated in the tenancy agreement) and leave the property in the condition it was in when they moved in.

Making a claim on your landlord insurance

To make a claim on your home insurance with LV=, follow these quick and simple steps:

  1. Give us a call. Call us on 0800 032 2844 and our helpful team will talk you through our claims process. Make sure you have all your insurance documents to hand and be ready to talk through the details of your claim so we can check your cover.
    Lines open - Mon to Fri 8am - 8pm and Sat 8am - 4pm
    For Text Phone first dial 18001
    We will record and / or monitor calls for training and audit purposes.

  2. Settling the claim. Once the claim has been authorised, we’ll be able to settle it through a repair, replacement or cash. Sometimes this has to go through a supplier – if so, they’ll become your first point of contact.

If a third party is responsible for the damage or loss, we’ll try to recover any costs of the claim from the other side. 

Make sure both you and your tenants are covered for any unexpected costs for repairs, damages or loss with landlord insurance from LV=. 

 

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