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News: Tenants need to ensure they are protected in the private rental sector

Fri, 04 Jan 19

It may now be more than three months since thousands of households in Wales were faced with severe flooding in October when Storm Callum inflicted some of the worst flooding for 30 years on parts of the country, but for many the distress of being flooded remains raw.

A number of owners of properties damaged by flood water are reportedly still struggling to pay for the clean-up costs, while some tenants cannot afford to replace their contents which were ruined by the adverse weather conditions.

It is every tenant’s worse nightmare: An incident that results in all their stuff being severely damaged, or stolen. But while in the event of flooding, or any other major incident, the landlord is responsible for the building and any of their fixtures and fittings inside it, they are not accountable for the contents belonging to their tenants.

Most landlord insurance policies include liability, legal, buildings and contents cover, emergency assistance, and occasionally rental guarantee. But all renters must be made aware that while their landlord’s policy may pay to rebuild or repair the physical structure of the property, it will not cover replacement of any contents belonging to the tenant that may have been damaged or lost in the event of a catastrophe in the building occurring, or otherwise. Instead, it is strongly advised that renters take out specialist tenant’s insurance cover to protect their goods.

The importance of renter’s insurance should not be underestimated, and as a landlord you should make that clear to your tenants, because failure to properly insure their belongings can have devastating consequences for them, especially as many tenants do not have adequate cover.

While tenants cannot be forced to buy a contents policy, as it is not a legal requirement, some landlords do insist that their fixtures, fittings and contents are protected by a tenant’s liability insurance product.

If a landlord’s furniture, fixtures and fittings are damaged beyond reasonable wear and tear, whilst in the renter’s care, the tenant may be liable for the cost of replacing them. This could mean losing part or all of their tenancy deposit which they may need for the next property they are planning to move in to.

But if the tenant is suitably covered with adequate insurance, like a tenant’s liability policy, this would in most cases protect their deposit, given that most tenants’ liability policies typically include cover for up to £5,000 towards the landlord’s property, including fixtures and fittings.

Without having tenants’ contents and liability insurance in place, renters have a significant financial exposure, which could cost them dear in the event of damage being caused to the landlord’s fixtures and fittings or the tenant’s own belongings.

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