Can any Landlords help with the aftermath of Fire

by Helen Kirkham

5 years ago

Can any Landlords help with the aftermath of Fire

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Can any Landlords help with the aftermath of Fire

magpie road fireImagine my horror whilst watching the local news on Sunday evening, seeing a row of 4 terraced houses in Norwich on fire and the end one being one of my rental properties!

I would be keen to see if other landlords have experienced a fire and what happened in the following weeks.

Luckily my tenant was away and no-one was injured. The fire started in the next door neighbours house and spread to our roof. For now the property is uninhabitable and our tenant is staying with some friends.

I am waiting for a loss adjustor to visit the house. For now however I am feeling concerned that the house is exposed to the elements and wish to prevent further damage being done. As you look up from the upstairs bedroom, the sky is visible and the weather isn’t great right now.

Although we are covered for fire damage, I am not sure what we can claim for, such as cleaning, redecorating and don’t wish to be out of pocket.

I have not had to deal with fire damage before, has anyone else dealt with fire and can give me any advice on what to expect?

As it stands at the moment, the insurance company are aware and have appointed a loss adjustor who has recommended a structural survey of the property.

Whilst the actual fire was contained within the roof, there is water damage in the 2 upstairs bedrooms. Half the roof is missing over the front and back of the house and the loss adjustor thinks we will need a new roof, ceilings taken down and asbestos tested, new carpets (which I discovered are NOT covered by buildings insurance!).

Our tenant is deciding what to do, whether to find temporary accommodation or start a fresh, I know we can claim for loss of rent, but not sure for how long, is it until we get a new tenant or when the work is completed?

We have also been told that we need to take action to protect the property as the front door was smashed to allow the fire fighters entrance, which for now this is boarded up and padlocked. I have ordered a new door, but don’t know when the insurance company will reimburse us for that.

Also, we need to have a tarpaulin put over the house, but due to structural concerns we need to have scaffolding erected first, again, it is another cost incurred upfront by us.

Due to the fire being spread across 4 terraces, it is not straight forward to just have our roof fixed without the others being done too.

Are we going to end up out of pocket because of the fire? As yet our insurance company have not been that helpful.

Comments

Sally T

5 years ago

Patience will be the key. 18 months ago our tenant torched our property, the good news is that the insurance covered everything fire related, the bad news is that it took 8 months and alot of phonecalls (mainly down to a useless loss adjuster).
Our insurance company did pay our rent but it was every 2 months and in arrears.
The biggest propblem now is trying to get insurance on the property due to size of the claim and the circumstances.
You will get paid for everything you buy, door, locks ect... but it may take a few months to get your money back.
The main thing is to keep on top of your insurance company,but don't let it stress you out, this wont be a quick fix.

5 years ago

You could end up losing the property!
You have suffered a loss of amenity to the property.
It will take about 6 - 9 months to sort.
During this time your tenant will get fed up waiting and go and get another tenancy.l
You will not be able to stop this due to the fire that occurred.
An AST normally allows exceptional situations such as this allows the tenant to surrender the tenancy.
When this occurs you will have NO rent coming in.
The insurance should cover most things; but as you have discovered you WILL be out of pocket.
If you CANNOT service the mortgage payments you WILL lose the property if you cannot service the mortgage payments.
I had exactly the same situation as you; but I didn't have the fire; just sewage flood damage.
No tenant was there when the flood occurred at the time which was only a few days after the previous tenant vacated.
I hope you are a good LL and your tenant wants to stay with you.
If I was your tenant I would just go and find another property to rent.
I would not want to wait around for months on end in other temporary rental accommodation; I would see little point in bothering.
There are plenty of rental properties out there that are not fire damaged.
So if I was you I would plan for having NO tenant paying rent and it taking ages to fix the property.
YOU WILL lose thousands of pounds; so you need to have sufficient resources to cover the loss of rental income and the other loses not covered by insurance.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings.
I lost £8000 until my sewage flooded property was repaired by insurance.
Perhaps you could persuade your tenant by rent reduction that would still be sufficient to pay your mortgage but compensate your tenant for all the hassle he would have until he could reoccupy the property.
That could persuade me to stick with you!

Reader

5 years ago

Try appointing your own loss adjuster to act in your interest it might save you a money.

5 years ago

Sally that is reassuring to know that you could claim everything back, I am expecting it to take a while to sort out. I will try not to stress!
Good news is we had the scaffolding go up yesterday, bad news is it was put up on the wrong house!

Neil Patterson

5 years ago

Oh no Helen, although that does conform to my simple two rule policy:
Rule 1) No one will ever do anything the first time round
Rule 2) If rule 1 does not apply they won't do it right anyway.

Remember keep communicating with the insurance company to cover yourself as calls are recorded.

5 years ago

Hi Helen, yes I've had a house fire, only in one room of an HMO but was put out very quickly by another tenant. ( would you believe he was a fire officer from Poland. )
the room was gutted. and settlement was quick about 2 weeks after I got a couple quotes and we settled in cash.

anyway, it's all down to the 'contents ' part of your cover.
the contents includes; rehousing your tenant, emergency repairs( such as tarpaulin for the exposed roof ), and of course the contents themselves. NOT your tenants- yours. damage to heating equipment, pipes, wiring, carpets, everything that is not your tenants property. they would need their own policy.

1. get a roofing contractor to cover your roof and ask for a quote for doing a proper repair. he may cover it for free if he thinks he's going to get the big job.
2. get a local building company in to quote for the repairs below the roof and the roof itself.

you may get one company to do both. establish a time frame for the repairs start and finish as you can also claim for the loss of rent ( also part of your contents )( include your agent fees. and always add another month. reason is simple; it will always take that extra time. you have to wait 3 weeks before you can re-decorate to let the new plaster dry out, but a builder only quotes the time it takes to do the job, and not the drying time.

ps; as for all that soot, for your own safety always wear a particle mask when entering the building. disturbed / airborne soot will damage your lungs. especially if you're doing work on the property.

just read Paul's comments. I ended up £5k ahead.
why...because there is always more than one way to skin a cat.

Peter Jones

5 years ago

Hi Helen

I had a gas explosion - long story short it was the tenants fault (thank goodness) and eventually the insurers agreed to cover my claim. I think they had little choice because it was very high profile - made it onto the local ITV news and the BBC news website etc

Anyway, the property was very badly damaged - lost the roof and most of the insides.
I just assumed the insurers would get on with rebuilding (as they had accepted the claim) and the loss adjustor even rang to ask if I'd accept pre-formed roof trusses rather than rebuild the roof as original. So I thought things were moving along.

It's my fault but because, being honest, I was a little traumatised, I didn't really check up or push things.

9 months after the explosion nothing had happened - the insurers hadn't even covered the roof, so what was left of the insides became totally unsalvageable.
Under different circumstances I would have sued them.

Anyway, it all came to a head because the insurers told me I was under-insured. I knew that was nonsense and asked then to produce 3 quotes to prove it.

They said they don't get quotes, they ask their builders to use a scale of charges.
Again, I said nonsense - when I claim I have to produce 3 quotes so you should do the same.

In the end they said "If you think you can do the work cheaper we'll cash you out in full and final settlement. Tell us how much you want".

So I made them an offer and they accepted and sent the cash to my bank account.

I'm close to finishing and will get the work done for about 25% of what their builder quoted using his scale charges.

I'll also have a cash surplus which insurers have told me they are happy for me to keep.

So the moral of the story is keep on at insurers, don't assume they are doing anything, insist they cover the roof until work is ready to proceed, and don't take any nonsense from them about rebuilding costs. I'd get a couple of quotes to use against them just in case they try it on a bit..

At times I felt totally despairing but in all honesty things have turned out ok

Incidentally, I was worried about what would happen when I came to renew my policy. My 'then' insurers wanted to double my premium and hit me with a large excess, not surprisingly.

But I was able to shop around and found an insurer who took me on at the previous level of premium. This year they even reduced my premium.

So that was also a good result.

Peter
http://www.peterjones-online.com

Recardo Knights

5 years ago

Hi Helen. Sory to hear of your problem as it could happen to any of us, but untill we push the insurance Co's, we don't really know where we stand.
I have just taken out insuranc on a BTL property and the Insurance brocure I received has got to be 30-40 pages. Talk about covering themselves. Plain english would help.

Had a break in in one of my properties couple of years ago, the door was smashed to pieces (sledge hamer ?). This took place at night over the August Bank hols and was reported to the police by the post man the next morning as there was no door to post the letter through! The tenants were into the second week of their holidays abroard.
I got a call about 11o/c that night from the police so i attended the sceen. they called out a 24 hour emergency boardin service who fitted steal grids across the front door. Half hour work my bill was about £175.
I informed the insurance co. they would send some one round in a few days to assess. I told them there was no way into the property because the front door was broken into pieces and boarded over with steel. The tenants were due back in 2 days and I needed a front door to be fitted now.

Their reaction was nothing could be done untill the loss ajduster had made a report.
I emaild them photos of the broken door, steel boarding, and police crime number, and asked them if they would pay the hotel bill for my 2 tenants and their 4 kids.
They said they could do nothing. i said i will get and fit a new front door so my tenants could get in after their return from holiday.
They said if I did anything I would not be refunded. I spent 1 day finding an over sized hardwood front door (34" x 80"), and fitted it myselr the next day, in time for my tenants return,
In the end the insurance co paid for the cost front door, and the emergency boarding, but nothing for my 2 days time and labour! They still insisted in 2 quotes, the cheapes was £1200.
They would have been happy for my tenants to be homeless while they ticked their boxes. If I had the money I would have put my tenants in a hotel for 3-4 weeks while they got their fingers out, and then gave them the total bill. this might have been £2000-3000?
Because I acted in the best interest of my tenants they paid £550, cost of boarding co and cost of my new door!

My advice is You have insurance (hope they cover loss of rent, should also include tenants accomadation). Put in writing what is required, scaffold, tarps over the roof etc, to prevent more deteriation. as the tenants are in accomodation ask if they cover tenants accomodation eg 6 months tenancy elsewer, hotel, etc.

Pay you monthly mortgage, borrow the money if you have too, and wait on the insurance co. They will pay in the end.

They take our money easy enough but are always trying to avoide paying.

In my case I did the work (dont know if i would do it again) They did not pay for my time (2 day) petrol or labour, so I saved them a lot of money.

For the next 3 years I have to pay a higer prium on 5 different BTL policies because I claime for the cost of a new door about £335.

Sit and wait any other damage ass a result off them not taking action they will have to pay for. Write your letter and take photos and vidio of damage now and again when they decide to take action.

5 years ago

I have come late to the different ways you can skin a cat!!
I've learnt my lesson for future and in such a similar case I will always have a tenant in occupation to enable the insurance company to pay for alternative accommodation and that tenant I KNOW will NOT wish to give up the tenancy!!!..................................................which means the insurer will pay the provider of the alternative accommodation for as long as needed.
The provider will always be someone I know!.................................................funny that!
I think you will be disappointed as to the time it takes to resolve the repairs.
Insurance company are slower than sloths in my experience and I have had quite a few claims!!!

5 years ago

There is NO insurance policy that will pay for loss of rent in the event of loss of amenity which causes the tenant to quit the tenancy.
If there is please tell me and I'll sign up immediately.

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