What is tenants liability insurance?
As a tenant, you are responsible for your landlord’s fixtures and fittings within the property. This is usually for the duration of the tenancy agreement. Normally, if you damage an item then you would expect to lose some or all of your deposit. An example of this could be if you accidentally cracked a wash basin. This is the type of event where tenants liability insurance will step in to cover you. If you accidentally damage your landlord’s property, you have the policy to claim against. This will be up to the value of the cover you have selected.
What benefit does it offer you as a tenant?
Tenants liability insurance providers offer cover from £2,500 to £10,000. This is for accidental damage to the landlord’s fixtures and fittings. The price depends on the level of cover you choose. However, prices are generally around £100 a year for the top level of cover.
Does normal contents insurance cover a landlords fixtures fittings?
In short, no, tenants contents is designed purely to cover the tenant(s) belongings. These are items that they have a financial interest in (that they own). They would be covered against things like damage, theft, fire or loss. Tenants liability insurance boosts the cover provided by an existing contents only policy.
Examples of where you can claim against the policy
Tenants liability insurance covers more examples than most people tend to think about. We’ve listed seven examples where you could look to claim on your Tenants liability insurance policy. Without the ability to claim, the cost of repair or replacement would come straight out of your own pocket.
Windows at the property can become accidentally smashed. This could be if a football was kicked through it or a piece of furniture falling over causing a crack. As a tenant you would be responsible for repairing the damage, which is likely to require the skills of a professional tradesman.
Exterior pipework in your rented home can become ripped or damaged as a result of a number of causes. This includes being knocked by large items of furniture being moved. Equally, an accidental blockage could build up the pressure in the pipes to an unsustainable level.
If you were to fall or drop a heavy item down the stairs then this could damage the bannister. You would be liable for the cost of these repairs. This can be expensive, particularly if it is very old or bespoke.
While moving heavy pots and pans on your cooker hob it is easy to slip and drop one. This can cause extensive damage and cracking to the hob itself. Often this damage will not be repairable and the whole hob will need to be replaced.
If you were to drop a heavy item in the bathroom, there is a good chance that the white sanitaryware in the room will be damaged. This could be either by cracking or chipping. This can be expensive to replace, particularly if the original suite was a high-end one.
Hole in wall/ceiling
If the attic floorboards are not reinforced then it is possible to put your foot through the ceiling. This obviously creates a lot of mess and expense to put right. It is also easy to damage walls by attempting to bang hooks and nails into them. This can cause large areas of plaster to come away from the wall.
If you are eating or drinking in a room that is carpeted, there is always a chance that something will be spilt. Things such as red wine are likely to leave a stain, even if you immediately try to remove them. Liability cover will ensure you are not left out of pocket to carry out essential repairs.
How to protect your deposit/tenancy bond
Check-in & Check-out Reports and Inventories
When moving in it is sensible to spend some time thoroughly checking the property against the inventory. This is the best way to avoid any future tenancy deposit disputes. Remember, tenants liability insurance protects against new damage to the property. Any pre-existing damage before the policy start date would not be covered.
5 tips to minimise the risk of losing your bond
- The first step is to make sure any damage, heavy wear and tear and other items in poor condition are noted and signed by the agent or landlord.
- Take photos of all areas of concern as well as the rest of the property and grounds you are responsible for as part of your agreement.
- Understand what your responsibilities are when it comes to maintaining the condition of the property. For example, many properties have garden areas. You should know the expectations upon handing the property back to the agent/landlord. Take photographs of the current condition
- Keep evidence of any items or services you paid for in the upkeep of your rental property. Whilst you should never need to act on behalf of the landlord/agent, if you do pay for anything then document it and keep the receipts.
- Make sure you update your landing or letting agent as much as possible in regards to any changes, no matter how small, to the condition of the property. This will help you in the longer term and demonstrate your conscientious attitude as a tenant.
Other ways to protect your deposit
The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) is a government-approved tenancy deposit protection scheme in England and Wales. It is operated by The Dispute Service Ltd. The Housing Act 2004 requires landlords and letting agents to protect deposits on assured shorthold tenancies in a scheme such as this. Insurance-backed tenancy deposit protection is available through most reputable agents. This should provide free, impartial dispute resolution for when disagreements arise over how the money is divided.
Click here for more information on renting with the security of a TDS deposit scheme.
Tenancy deposit scheme dispute application form
Click here for information and to download a dispute application form.
As a tenant, you will only be responsible for insuring your contents. This is regardless of the furniture and fixtures the landlord provides as part of your tenancy agreement. The landlord will be responsible for any buildings insurance and any contents insurance for the items included in the tenancy agreement. The landlord should also be responsible for any home emergency cover policy in place.
Whilst there is no legal stipulation that a person renting a property must have tenants insurance, some letting/estate agencies and independent landlords will stipulate it as a requirement in the tenancy agreement. Tenants liability insurance will only cover items that you have a financial interest in e.g. furniture and contents you own. These will be covered against all of the standard issues that could cause damage to your property, such as fire, smoke, theft, escape of water or storm damage.
When a policy is taken out you should always check the policy wording so that you know exactly what is and isn’t covered.