Tenants homeless due to house fire next door but I don’t want to lose them?

by Readers Question

10:29 AM, 25th April 2016
About 3 years ago

Tenants homeless due to house fire next door but I don’t want to lose them?

Make Text Bigger
Tenants homeless due to house fire next door but I don’t want to lose them?

I rent my property out to four people who are excellent tenants and have made it their home for the past three years. Three weeks ago there was a house fire next door which caused some damage to my roof. My tenants were told by the fire brigade that they couldn’t return to the flat and they were made homeless that day. My tenancy agreement was terminated.house fire

I do not own the freehold and the freeholder is responsible for sorting out the house insurance and they do so via an insurance broker. I have no direct contact with the house insurers which is incredibly frustrating, especially as the freeholders are very inefficient. A loss adjuster did go to the property about a week after the fire. I was away at the time and, from the freeholders, it sounded as if the damage was dangerous and would take months to repair. The freeholders threw around a figure of £80,000 repair work.

I finally saw the flat when I let the surveyor in two weeks later. The damage was nowhere near as extensive as the insurance brokers had made out from their initial viewing. In fact it involves, according to the surveyor, some minor repairs to the roof and decoration due to water damage (from the fire brigade). That was a week ago and I have still heard nothing from the freeholders who would have received the surveyor’s report and could be moving things forward.

My tenants are still homeless and their lives are very difficult at the moment. I am not responsible for housing them (my tenancy agreement is clear about that) but, as a human being, I want them to have their home back as soon as possible and of course do not want to lose them.

So, my questions are, could the freeholder or the insurance brokers be delaying things for any financial gain or is this merely inefficiency? Do they have any legal obligation to speed this process up or can they drag it out for weeks before any actual work occurs? I just can’t believe that four people can be kept homeless due to middle men being inefficient.

Thank you in advance for any advice.

Katie



Comments

Jason McClean

10:37 AM, 25th April 2016
About 3 years ago

Hi Katie

It sounds as though your freeholders and brokers are going through the procedures of making a claim. It look like a normal process to me, although I do not know all the details. These things take a little time to agree on works to be carried out, instruct a repairer and then for the works to be signed off.

The frustrating part is you are not involved as it is not your policy and your influence is limited.

My advice is to keep putting pressure on the freeholders to get the damage fixed so you can re-let the property. There's not much more you can do I'm afraid.

Laura Delow

12:19 PM, 25th April 2016
About 3 years ago

If the lease says your freeholder is responsible for arranging buildings insurance for the property as a whole, which is normal for a building divided into flats, then the freeholder must arrange insurance. The Freeholder does not normally send out a copy of the buildings insurance schedule, however they must respond to a written request for a summary of the policy within 21 days of it being made. The summary must show the sum for which the building is insured, the name of the insurer and the risks covered by the policy. If a freeholder fails to provide insurance information, he or she is committing an offence and could potentially be liable for a fine of up to £2,500.
Hopefully on receipt of this you'll be able to see if it covers alternative accommodation & if so, if the same goes if sublet. Good luck

Katie Slater

12:27 PM, 25th April 2016
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jason McClean" at "25/04/2016 - 10:37":

Thanks so much for the advice Jason. It's reassuring to know that this is normal but obviously very frustrating!
Thanks again.

Katie Slater

12:28 PM, 25th April 2016
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Laura Delow" at "25/04/2016 - 12:19":

Thanks so much for replying Laura. They are responsible for the house insurance but it is good to know that I can request a summary of the policy & will do that now.
Thanks again!

Kate Mellor

16:51 PM, 25th April 2016
About 2 years ago

I would have thought your interest, as the long leaseholder, should be noted on the policy. Would you not therefore have every right to speak directly to the insurer and loss adjuster and be kept informed of progress (and more importantly chivvy them along where necessary)? I haven't had to deal with this myself, but I know leaseholders and mortgage lenders interests are generally noted on these types of policies, so would have thought this gave you at the very least the right to information on request? Can anyone confirm or deny this for me?


Leave Comments

Please Log-In OR Become a member to reply to comments or subscribe to new comment notifications.

Forgotten your password?

OR

BECOME A MEMBER

Waltham Forest Council uncover Rent to Rent Scammer

The Landlords Union

Become a Member, it's FREE

Our mission is to facilitate the sharing of best practice amongst UK landlords, tenants and letting agents

Learn More