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Should my Tenants have Tenant Contents Insurance?

Landlord & Tenant responsibilities and why a new tenant must always insure their contents?

As a landlord, you have certain responsibilities to your tenants and they have certain responsibilities to your property under the criminal and civil law. Under the criminal statutory law, your responsibilities as a landlord are to provide a safe, secure and healthy environment when renting a property by:

  • Offering your tenant suitable habitable accommodation, where they can reside in your property as a home without fear of harm from the environment and/or others.
  • Ensure that your property does not endanger a tenant and that it does not contain anything that could prove detrimental to their health
  • Safeguard your tenants against harassment

If a landlord does not abide by the above, they will be breaching criminal law and could be prosecuted with punishments ranging from a fine, prison and in the worst instances both.

However, a tenant’s responsibility within a tenancy agreement is much less challenging. A tenant’s responsibilities are contractual and are only subject to civil law, not criminal. A statutory tenancy agreement is limited to a few simple conditions and when additional conditions are added by landlords to an agreement they are very unlikely to ever succeed, should they be used as a reason to try and gain a possession order via court.

No one can foresee the future and even with the most stringent 12 point referencing, available at Tenant Referencing UK, then landlords have to hope that their tenants abide by the conditions to keep the property in a good state of repair, abide by the terms of the agreement, be civil to neighbours and to meet the rent in full. Remember, once a tenant is in your property a tenant’s responsibilities to a landlord are not enforceable by criminal law; they are all a civil matter.

Our experience over that past 30 years has shown us that most tenancy problems begin if a tenant experiences financial problems, loss of employment or has a breakdown in relationship and, as you see from the above when these problems arise it is not an even playing field for landlords and tenants.

Landlords need to make sure they are protected in the future against such issue escalating should they arise. Which is why Rent Safe UK offer the best Rent Guarantee Insurance and Contents Insurance, to protect both landlords and tenants.

At Tenant Referencing UK and Rent Safe UK experience has shown us that the majority of tenants do not enter a tenancy agreement thinking they are going to have a problem and this is because nearly all financial problems that arise are unforeseen, but when a financial problem happens it can be difficult to overcome if you are only just living within your means every month. Therefore a large majority of tenants, as with the majority of people, when a huge financial burden gets placed upon them simply fall into a spiralling downward vortex of trying to meet payments that are larger than their current income.

Tenant Contents Insurance;

One of the biggest problems with letting a property can be when a tenant has had an accident in the property, resulting in damage to the landlord’s possessions. If this occurs, and they do not have the immediate savings or insurance to cover the damage to put the problem right, a tenant will generally do one of three things. They will either:

Option 1 – make good the damage immediately at their own expense.  This is not always an option if a tenant needs to replace an entire carpet, perhaps a damaged chipped bath, or even accidental fire damage in the event of a small fire, or maybe even water damage from an overflowing bath, sink or washing machine. This type of damage can very easily run into the thousands of pounds and most tenants do not have adequate savings to pay for these repairs outright.

Option 2 –  the tenant relies on their deposit to try and meet some of the costs.  This option is always very difficult, as the deposit is normally limited to an amount that will only cover minor repairs and cleaning and will not extend to accidental damage on a larger scale. The landlord will probably never agree to use the deposit, as this would leave them exposed at the end of the tenancy for other works or repeat accidents and the damage could (more than likely) exceed the deposit anyway; leaving the tenant with even more to pay to rectify the repairs.

The other problem with this option is that if a landlord uses or retains a tenant’s deposit to cover some of the repairs, and then the landlord serves notice on the tenant because they tenant cannot pay for the repair, the tenant will have great difficulty in moving on unless they can save even more for another deposit for another home. This would mean that they are stuck in their existing property and under pressure by a landlord. When this happens a tenant will generally be protective over their position and (more often than not) turn hostile; because they have become financially entrapped.

As Landlords ourselves, we have heard it hundreds of times; “How can I move when you won’t give me my deposit back?” This scenario becomes known as the “stalemate impasse” – a position to which neither party can move without great pains.  It becomes almost impossible to agree on an amicable way out and always ends up costing a landlord dearly. It is a standard life trait that when an impasse is reached, each party does what they can to protect their position. Landlords who go down the Section 21 or Section 8 route usually result in the tenant’s counter reaction and they stop paying the rent and/or stop caring for their home (your property), whilst they wait for a court to issue a possession order – in some cases, even waiting until the bailiffs turn up to evict them!

The scenario above is a very real life act that has been played out thousands of times by landlords and tenants, simply because no prevention (as easy as a tenant contents insurance) has been put in place before the tenancy began. A tenants contents insurance can be made at the point of initial referencing and takes approximately two minutes. The premium for a full years cover can start from as little as £70 per annum, which is a small price to pay to retain a good relationship between a landlord and their tenant in the future.

Option 3 – is for a tenant to pick up and leave the property, leaving the landlord with the bill for the damages. This of course, is a development that is played out regularly but is detrimental to both landlord and tenant. The landlord ends up with an empty property and needs to spend money whilst it’s empty putting it right and the tenants can end up with county court proceedings against them; hindering their ability to get a decent home from a decent landlord in the future.

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