Honourable and personal residential letting experts

23Jan Is there an un-occupancy clause in your building insurance?

Is there an un-occupancy clause in your building insurance?

Buy-to-let landlords are being urged to check the small print in their building insurance to ensure that their building insurance covers their rental property when it is unoccupied for a number of days.

In the case of a rented property, if the tenant has an extended absence from their property for a number of consecutive days, their existing buildings insurance may become invalid, according to insurance specialist Richard Burgess.

Burgess, who is the director at Cover4LetProperty, said: “Many property owners – both owner occupiers and landlords – are unaware that their existing buildings insurance will have a clause relating to unoccupancy.”

He explained that all buildings insurance policies have a clause that excludes – or severely limits – cover for a property when no-one is living there for a number of ongoing days – usually 30 or 45 consecutive days for a residential property and will depend on the individual provider.

Burgess continued: “Note that when an insurer refers to a property as being ‘unoccupied’, it means that no-one is living there – and not that the property is empty of furnishings and fittings.”

Policyholders should also be aware that whether covered under their existing policy or a new unoccupied property insurance policy, they will have obligations that need to be met in order to keep the cover valid.

These typically include regular, logged visits made to the property (sight of these logs will be required in the event of a claim), things such as setting the heating to a certain temperature in order to avoid frozen pipes in the winter, and/or draining down the water system.

“While there may be some very rare exceptions to the 30 or 45 consecutive day rule, in most cases, property owners will need to invest in additional protection for this period of unoccupancy” said Burgess.

He added: “Landlords and homeowners alike should check the unoccupancy clause within any buildings insurance they have, or speak to their insurer so they fully understand when additional, unoccupied cover, will be needed.”