If you are thinking of letting out your property, it’s important to familiarise yourself with your responsibilities as a landlord. These are clearly stated in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. Under common law, landlords have a duty to ensure the safety of their let property and its contents and that no injury or damage can be caused to the occupants, neighbours or the public.
Abiding by the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985
The act states who is legally responsible for repair and maintenance areas within the property, even down to the responsibility of a blocked sink. And, abiding by this act goes above and beyond your business insurance policy and lettings agreement. This would also include regular maintenance checks; ensuring all electrical systems are in a safe condition and meeting IEE wiring certificate regulations, as well as the annual servicing of the boiler.
Finding suitable tenants to occupy your property is obviously a priority to get cash flowing in. This is also particularly important as many insurers will not provide cover unless you have a tenant in the property. The type of tenant could also effect your insurance; some providers won’t insure your property if it is let to students for example. It is also advisable to check references from previous landlords, and credit check new tenants.
Whilst you can advertise your property in local newspapers or even shop windows, there are a number of benefits of using a lettings agent. Not only can they make the process quicker and easier, they will also advise you on the terms of the contract, financial aspects of the letting process and other legal issues. This does come at a price though (usually a percentage of your monthly rental income).
Getting the right insurance
Once you have found your tenants, you’ll need to make sure your investment is protected through an insurance policy that covers your needs. It’s important to understand the cover that comes as standard and the benefits of optional extras that can be added so that the policy is tailored to your specific needs.
Generally speaking, material damage cover is included in most policies and covers loss or damage to your property from a number of hazards such as fire, lightning, flood, water damage from a burst tank or pipe and even accidental damage.
Property owner’s liability also comes as standard within most policies and covers costs that you may be legally liable to pay if anyone suffers an accidental injury or their belongings are damaged in connection with your ownership of the property.
If rain leaked through the ceiling and damaged the tenant’s television for example, and you were found liable for not maintaining the property, then the property owners liability aspect of the policy may cover a claim made to repair or replace your tenant’s television.
Of course, accidents can happen which are out of your control. But to provide you with peace of mind, accidental damage cover within your insurance policy could help protect your asset. More unusual benefits are offered by some insurers too, helping to cover your investment in a range of situations. Cover against theft or accidental damage to the property by the tenant(s) is one example.
Finally, if there are any changes to the property such as new tenants, or an upgrade to your fixtures and fittings, you will need to tell your insurer. If you fail to keep your policy up to date, the cover may become invalid.