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There are a number of reasons for ensuring that you do not use a standard household policy in place of a Buy to Let insurance policy. The majority of the benefits available under a standard household policy are severely curtailed when the property is let and cover may cease altogether if you do not advise the insurer that the property is let.
The things to consider when looking at insurance to cover let property are:
Landlord Building Insurance - Covers the liability risk if your tenant or another visitor to the property injures themselves and the fault is proven to relate to your buildings or contents, then you will be liable. Landlords Liability Insurance protects you in this event.
Loss of Rent - This is intended to provide you with cover should you be unable to let the property due to an insured loss. A reasonable policy would restrict the loss of rent cover to 20 per cent of the building’s sum insured (full cost of a rebuild of the property).
Landlords Contents Insurance - Landlords Contents Insurance includes Indemnity Cover: should an item need replacing then it will pay out only the item’s current value or new for old cover, which regardless of the age of the item, will provide cover to replace the item as new. Landlord's contents insurance does not generally include Contents Liability Cover. If a tenant is injured as a result of any of your contents and you do not have liability cover, then you could be liable to pay substantial damages.
Unoccupied Property Insurance - This section of the policy deserves very careful scrutiny. Some policies reduce the cover on Landlords Insurance policies to FLEE cover (Fire, Lightning, Earthquake, Explosion) within 14 days of the property becoming unoccupied, others offer full cover for up to 90 days.
Landlords Legal Expenses Cover - Generally Legal Expenses Cover is intended to be used to provide cover to pursue rent arrears, evict tenants in breach of contract or occupants unlawfully occupying the property, and recover dilapidation costs not covered by the bond.
Rent Guarantee Insurance - This policy is generally an extension of the Legal Expenses policy and is designed to pay the rent should the tenant default. To qualify for Rent Guarantee Insurance you must have referenced the tenant using a referencing agency and often there are other criteria to meet.
Cost of providing alternative suitable accommodation - If your property is uninhabitable due to an insured loss, you as a landlord could be held responsible for providing your tenant alternative accommodation. This section of the policy is to cover the cost should the alternative accommodation prove to be more expensive than the rent you are charging.
Tenant type - Asylum seekers are probably the most difficult tenant type to find cover for, followed closely by homes in multiple occupation. If there is not a direct tenancy agreement in place between the tenant and the landlord this again can severely curtail your choice of insurer. The tenant types insurers find most acceptable are Employed/Professional, Retired, Unemployed receiving housing benefits and Students. The majority of policies do not cater for short term holiday lets, should you be in this market then we would suggest a specialised Holiday Home insurance policy.