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What you need to know about insurance if you live in a block of flats

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If you live in a block of flats you might think that you have put any worries about home insurance well and truly behind you after reading in your lease agreement that the landlord is responsible for insuring the building.

Why you may need to be concerned about insurance

To a certain extent, you may be right to be more relaxed, since your landlord – the freeholder of the building – is typically responsible for ensuring that building insurance is in place to protect the structure and fabric of the block.

Nevertheless, there are still reasons to give more than a passing thought to the issue of insurance:

Contents insurance 

  • your landlord is unlikely to have any responsibility at all for insuring the contents of your own flat; 
  • contents insurance is essential, therefore, for safeguarding your belongings and possessions against all manner of risks, including fire, damage from an escape of water, storm damage, theft, attempted theft and vandalism;

Building insurance

  • while it is true that the freeholder or landlord of your block is typically responsible for arranging building insurance, this is not always the fact and you may need to read your lease agreement very carefully to establish if it is so in your case – or ask your solicitor to do so, suggests the Money Advice Service;
  • even if your landlord is responsible for arranging the building insurance, you are nevertheless almost certain to be paying for it – since it is typically included in the regular maintenance or service charges you pay to your landlord;

Right to Manage

  • you may also be accepting your share of the responsibility for arranging insurance of the block of flats if, together with other leaseholders, you have jointly exercised your Right to Manage; 
  • by taking that course of action, you have together relieved the landlord of his responsibility for arranging day to day maintenance and care of the building, including its insurance, and transferred that duty to a Right to Manage specifically set up for the purpose; 
  • you might want to take control over the important decision of building insurance – its nature, extent and cost – if for no other reason than the fact that landlords have been known to add a surcharge of as much as 50% on the cost of the premiums they actually pay when including this element of costs in the regular maintenance and management charges.

Although you may be living in a flat situated in a block for which the landlord continues to assume responsibility for insuring the building itself, therefore, you still need contents insurance to safeguard all the possessions within your own flat. 

If you want to take control of the management and maintenance of the block – including its insurance – from your landlord, you may wish to investigate the possibilities of establishing a Right to Manage company for that purpose.