As a landlord, you obviously want to protect your property investment, which is why you’ll need to take out high quality landlord insurance cover. Landlord insurance is a fantastic safety net that will help protect you and your rental property should the worst come to the worst. But of course, no landlord wants the worst to come to the worst and even with the best landlord insurance policy in place, if something goes wrong with your property then you are facing business disruption, potentially costly delays in arranging repairs, loss of rental income and the prospect of your landlord insurance premiums rising. To help you avoid all this, here is Coversure Insurance’s landlords’ guide to protecting your property.
Maintaining your rental property may seem like the most obvious thing to do, but you’d be amazed at how many claims we see coming through that could’ve been prevented by simple, routine property maintenance.
It’s easy to see why it’s often missed: as a landlord – particularly as a landlord with a portfolio of properties – you may not get to visit the property that often. Property maintenance can also be disruptive – especially when being done for internal work – and to save irritating tenants or worse, putting potential tenants off while the work is done, you may be tempted to delay it. Alas such delays are a false economy and quick fixes, such as clearing the gutters to avoid water damage or ensuring external pipes are effectively lagged in winter to reduce the risk of burst pipes, are left undone and lead to significant damage and costly repairs.
The solution to this is simple and comes down to planning. If you know your property will become vacant following a tenant giving notice, then when you do your exit inspection check for any maintenance that needs doing and book in all the services you need in one fell swoop before your next tenants take up residence. You may also want to plan to make regular visits to the property – perhaps around the seasons – where you will undertake property maintenance tasks such as clearing gutters, trimming trees, checking lagging etc. If you give your tenants plenty of notice of these visits and stress that they are in their best interests, then the level of disruption can be kept to a minimum.
Unoccupied properties are a particular problem for landlords, and it’s a problem that most landlords will face at some point. Unoccupied property insurance can solve many of these problems, but even the best unoccupied property insurance policies will expect you as the landlord to take care of your property. One of the best ways to do this – particularly in the cooler months (i.e. outside of July in the UK!) – is to leave your central heating ticking over to avoid pipes freezing and to keep boilers in good working order. With modern central heating services and digital control devices such as Nest, keeping your unoccupied rental property protected is easier than ever.
Another way for landlords to keep their unoccupied property safe is by adding security devices. Webcams and other online security devices are cheap and easy to set up, while more traditional approaches such as burglar alarms and window locks, can give your unoccupied property the security it needs.
Of course, when it comes to any property there’s nothing to beat the personal touch and regular visits to the property are not only a good idea, they may be mandated by your insurer as part of your unoccupied property insurance cover. Visiting the property may not be something you can do personally – you may be abroad or the property is in another city. To get around this you can nominate someone to do it for you. If a friend, relative or estate agent can be given access to the property then they can not only make sure it is secure and free from squatters, but can advise you of any pressing maintenance issues.
Properly vetting your tenants before they take up occupancy should be every landlord’s first step when letting a property. References alone, however, are not really enough and previous good conduct doesn’t guarantee future reliability. This is another area where there’s no substitute for a personal visit. Seeing your tenants in-situ will help you build your relationship with them, give you the chance to appraise their behaviour and give you the opportunity to do a quick maintenance inspection. It could even allow you to ensure that your property is not being used for illicit purposes. Cannabis farms and pop-up-brothels are becoming a real problem for landlords, ones that can do untold damage to both your property and your reputation as a landlord.
Have Adequate Landlord Insurance Cover
In a world of sky-rocketing house prices and amidst a booming rental market, it’s horribly easy to find your landlord insurance isn’t sufficient to cover your property. For example, if you took out landlord insurance cover to insure your property for £250,000 but the rebuild costs have risen to £500,000 then you will be left with a £250,000 shortfall. Secondly, most insurers include an ‘Average’ clause which has the effect of proportionately reducing the amount they will pay you following a claim by any amount the property is underinsured. So, in the example given above a £100,000 partial loss to the property would only result in a £50,000 payment from the insurer as only 50% of the rebuild costs are insured.
Avoiding this potentially disastrous and all-too-common issue, is easy. Start by contacting an insurance broker such as Coversure Insurance and ask them to recalculate your coverage limit. This will probably involve answering a detailed questionnaire and you can expect to be asked about square footage of your rental property, the number of bedrooms and baths and any upgrades such as hardwood floors, granite countertops, etc.
If you have a top-of-the-line custom built rental home or need insurance cover for a mansion block of flats, you shouldn’t rely on an over-the-phone conversation. The high-end brokers are generally willing to send someone to your home to do a custom appraisal. If you still think that the insurance total is too low, you can talk to builders in your area and get an estimate from them which you can pass on to your insurers.
Like Some More Help?
We hope our landlords’ guide to protecting your property has been useful, but if you would like any more help then please get in touch. Coversure Insurance offers various types of landlord insurance, including cover for high-net-worth and unoccupied properties. To find out more please get in touch with your local Coversure Insurance broker today.