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We find that for the majority of customers then insuring the buildings and contents is generally not quite as straightforward as insuring a normal house. Apart from the different types of flats as outlined below then there is also the consideration of leasehold or freehold to consider.
In addition there may also be specific instructions from your Mortgage Company, as they will also need to see confirmation of the buildings insurance.
Finally there are significant differences in the type of cover you will require if,
- you decide to live in the flat yourself or,
- decide to let the property out and as such you will require a landlords building insurance policy.
In many cases as long as your management/service charges continue to be paid then you will get the standard buildings insurance for flats cover that you got when you lived in your flat. So, for example, the payment of the management/service charge may remain the same and give the same benefits whether you live in your flat or whether you rent it out. You may, however, want to check out the terms of the lease agreement that you have to make sure that it will still be valid if you rent out your flat and that you have liability cover whilst renting the property out.
The first thing you need to do is from the list below establish the type of property (flat type) you want to insure.
Types of Flat
- Converted Flat
A self contained flat that has been converted out of part of a larger property, is known as a converted flat.
- Freehold Flat
A flat which has the freehold of the land on which it is built, is known as a freehold flat.
- Purpose Built Flat
A flat designed and built as such; a self contained residential unit contained within a larger structure containing several self contained units or flats all sharing a common entrance, is known as a purpose built flat.
- Studio Flat
A studio flat is a flat comprising a single habitable room, plus bathroom and possibly separate kitchen. (No shared facilities)
Apartment / flat on two levels with internal stairs, or which has its own entrance at street level. A residential unit with one or two overlying or underlying neighbours, each with independent entrances, and with living quarters on one level, except for a washroom or basement and garage.
This refers to a block of flats in Scotland sharing a common central staircase and lacking an elevator, particularly those constructed prior to 1919. Built of sandstone or granite, Scottish tenements are usually three to five storeys in height, with two to four flats on each floor, typically constructed in rows of terraces.
- Mews property
A mews is an urban-stable-block that has been converted into residential properties. The typical property is converted into a ground floor garage with a small flat above which used to house the stableman.
Having established which type of property you want to insure then you need to know if the property is freehold or leasehold as there are significant differences in the type of ownership they confer.
Different Types of Ownership
Land or property which is owned outright, as opposed to leasehold (below) where the owner has the right to occupy the land or property for a given period of years only.
With a freehold property the owner has complete ownership of the property and land the property resides on permanently as oppose to a leasehold property. For this freehold property insurance will be required.
The person owning the Freehold is known as the Freeholder. Because each piece of land can only have one freeholder, then if there are multiple flats on a plot of land, then they will generally either share the freehold, or they will each have leasehold.
Buying a leasehold property means you hold the rights that that property for a fixed period of time. A freehold property is owned indefinitely unless transferred of the owner’s own accord. Flats and apartments are often sold as leasehold.
A leasehold is considered a tenancy and therefore a ground rent and annual service rent may be required to the landlord to cover maintenance, cleaning and gardening to the surrounding grounds. Leaseholders may also have restrictions of what they can do with the property.
Leasehold building insurance is taken out by the landlord, however contents insurance is your responsibility and therefore flat insurance could be the answer.
Additional Policy Features
Property Owners Liability:
For both types of ownership above re freehold or leasehold then you will also need to include cover within the policy for property owner's liability. Generally public or property owner's liability forms part of a buildings insurance policy protecting the owner of the property against any legal action taken against them following an accident concerning the building to be insured.
- A slate falls loose from the roof of the property and hits a third party whilst walking past
- A tenant trips on a loose carpet and falls down the stairs breaking their leg.
Each of the above scenarios would be covered by the property owner's liability section of a policy. Some insurers offer insurance policies solely covering property owners insurance for individual flat owners whose buildings insurance is already covered by the freeholder.
Loss of rent / alternative accommodation costs:
Depending on the type of policy, i.e. home, landlords, commercial insurance, a section of the buildings policy will detail cover for loss of rent and / or alternative accommodation costs. Basically, if the property to be insured is damaged to a state where the property is no longer habitable, most buildings insurance policies will cover either:
- loss of rent whilst uninhabitable if the property has been rented to tenants
- provide alternative accommodation for the proposer until the property becomes habitable again.
This is not to be confused with Rent Guarantee Insurance which would cover a landlord if a tenant defaulted on rent payments.
So you can see it may not be as straightforward to insure a flat but rest assured one call to one of our experienced adviser is all you need to make then we can assist you with the correct information and our best price, or if you know what you want click here to get your quote online.