Over the past few weeks, landlord and property management has hit the headlines with the recent incident at the Victoria Square apartment complex and the UK government consulting on banning Section 21 in England and Wales, so-called ‘no fault’ repossessions in the private rented sector.
In 2018, HMRC stated that there were 64,995 landlords in Northern Ireland and this figure continues to grow due to demand from both younger people and a mobile workforce preferring high-quality rental apartments. Research from PwC indicated that Northern Ireland has the lowest home ownership rates in the UK outside of London, and by 2025 only 59% of the population will be home owners.
It goes without saying that being a landlord comes with a responsibility, not just to protect your property but also your tenants. It is imperative that landlords take due to care to seek out a comprehensive and robust insurance policy to protect them against many hurdles they may face.
When insuring your rental property, the first step is to ensure you are aware of all the terms and conditions stipulated within your policy, including the terms specific to whenever the property is unoccupied. This may include frequent inspections and maintaining certain house temperatures. You must disclose particular elements of the house, such as a flat roof, and be mindful that an electrical wiring test may be legally required as part of your policy.
When your property is occupied, you must disclose the type of tenants residing in your property and advise your insurance company of any other changes. For example, if your tenancy agreement has changed from professionals to a group of students, this may impact the cover you require. The importance of having a tenancy agreement in place cannot be underestimated. This mutual agreement between you and your tenant sets out obligations for both sides and can also be referred to in the event of any potential disputes between you and your tenant in the future.
To protect you and your property in times of crisis, it would be advisable to ensure your property has accidental damage cover as some policies will only provide cover for standard threats such as fire, theft, storm or flooding. With the recent Victoria Square incident, Alternative Accommodation would not have been covered as the structural damage caused was not “an insured peril” and property policies would not respond to such loss. Had the damage been caused accidentally, then the Loss of Rent or Alternative Accommodation Section may have responded but it would really depend on the severity of the peril and if the property is completely uninhabitable
As a landlord the responsibilities are endless however when you work with a trusted insurance specialist in developing a robust and tailored insurance policy, it can provide you with peace of mind, protection and cover.