Who has financial liability for a tenant’s possessions?

by Readers Question

10:46 AM, 18th May 2016
About 3 years ago

Who has financial liability for a tenant’s possessions?

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Who has financial liability for a tenant’s possessions?

I have a prospective tenant who does not want to take out insurance on his own possessions ie furniture, valuables, hi-fi etc. Whilst I will have insurance on the bricks & mortar and my white goods & carpets, I don’t normally insure anything that belongs to the tenant as that is their prerogative.contents

If this chap moves in and does not have his own insurance where does that leave me if there is an unfortunate incident (blaze, flood) that damages or destroys his things?

Do I have a liability here?

Could he claim from me on the basis that he is a victim because such incident was not caused by him?

Many thanks

Sue



Comments

Neil Patterson

11:37 AM, 18th May 2016
About 3 years ago

Hi Sue,

I asked our insurance expert Jason and as he is out of the office his response to your question is below:

"The tenant is responsible for their own possessions. You do not own them and therefore cannot insure them. I'd advise you tell the tenant to get tenant contents insurance. Typically it costs £100 or less for £10,000 of cover per year, so it is affordable. If they don't and there is a blaze, they will most likely end up having to replace everything themselves.

There is an argument if a fire started by someone else causes the damage they can claim on that persons policy if negligence is proved. But without tenants contents insurance they will have to pay their own solicitor fees if it is contested."

Rob Crawford

12:39 PM, 18th May 2016
About 3 years ago

You cannot "tell" the tenant to take out insurance to cover his possessions as this would be considered an unfair term. You can however, make it clear in the AST that your insurance does not cover tenant possessions and you can also recommend they take out their own insurance cover. If you have an introducer status with an insurer you can introduce (not recommend) that insurer to them. It's also worth mentioning that your insurance doesn't cover their possessions (clothes / fridge / freezer contents etc) if damaged by appliances that you own and provide for their use.

Romain Garcin

12:48 PM, 18th May 2016
About 3 years ago

When your property is damaged or destroyed you can only claim compensation from someone else if they are responsible for the damage.

Sue Twyford

10:36 AM, 19th May 2016
About 3 years ago

Thank you all for your kind responses to my enquiry above; I'm liaising with my agent to get a clause changed in the AST to make that distinction between landlord insurance and tenant possessions.

Thank you.

Romain Garcin

11:30 AM, 19th May 2016
About 3 years ago

IMHO, I think best not to mention anything regarding any insurance in the tenancy agreement.

Sue Twyford

12:36 PM, 19th May 2016
About 3 years ago

Thanks Romain: the agent has a standard clause that says that the landlord must "insure the buildings and contents of the Property/Premises under a general household policy with a reputable insurer", which is ambiguous and open to interpretation by the tenant as it implies that it covers all contents. It is this clause that I am taking up with them.

Romain Garcin

13:02 PM, 19th May 2016
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Sue Twyford" at "19/05/2016 - 12:36":

I was thinking of such clauses.
They do nothing for the landlord and, in fact, they do create an extra obligation and my understanding is that they impose an obligation to claim off the insurance instead of going after the tenant for any damage, etc.

It's true that the very clause you quoted also probably creates an obligation for you to insure your tenants' property.

Dave Driver

12:02 PM, 20th May 2016
About 3 years ago

I would be very concerned about this clause in the agent's contract.
The NLA AST does not put any obligation on the landlord regarding insurance, but does have the following clause:
Tenant's possessions
The tenant is strongly advised to take out insurance with a reputable insurer for the tenant's possessions as such possessions will not be covered by any insurance effected by the landlord.


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