Category: Landlord Insurance

What Is Landlord Boiler Cover?

What Is Landlord Boiler Cover?

If you’re a landlord and wondering whether you need landlord boiler cover, or if it’s even worth it, we’re here to help make up your mind. Taking out landlord boiler cover is essential to make sure your tenants stay warm and cosy and avoid those unexpected boiler breakdowns. Boiler cover, also known as gas boiler cover or boiler breakdown cover, is a type of insurance that protects your boiler if it were to breakdown or encounter a fault. If something was to go wrong with the boiler, the boiler cover will help cover the costs of engineer call outs and labour, as well as an annual boiler service, which is vital to keep the manufacturer warranty valid and the boiler in full working order.

Do I need landlord boiler cover? Is landlord boiler cover worth it?

As a landlord, it’ll be your responsibility to cover the costs associated with a broken or faulty boiler, as well as arranging for an engineer to sort the issue. Your tenants won’t be able to take out boiler cover themselves or arrange the repair themselves, which is why cover is also important in your absence. With your permission and with cover in place, the tenant may be able to arrange an engineer call out or repair if the boiler was to break down in your absence. If you already have landlord home insurance, you may have boiler cover in place as part of your buildings and contents insurance.

Most modern boilers will come bundled with a manufacturer warranty of up to 10 years depending on the installer. If you’ve chosen an installer that’s approved by the manufacturer, you’re more likely to have your boiler protected by an extended warranty. If you’re looking to install a Vaillant or Worcester Bosch boiler, keep a lookout for Vaillant Advanced and Worcester Accredited Installers to take full advantage of an extended warranty. If the boiler is older than 15 years, you may have to pay more for cover as it’s more likely that the boiler will break down due to its age. Some cover products will also have specific terms around whether they can cover you if the boiler has already broken down.

At this point, you’re probably wondering, what’s the point in landlord boiler cover if I have a manufacturer warranty? Your boiler’s manufacturer warranty shouldn’t be the only thing you rely on if your boiler was to run into a fault or break down. The warranty is only there to cover you if your boiler fails or breaks down within a certain number of years. However, if the fault or breakdown is caused by physical damage or limescale, this may void your warranty. It’s important to double check your manufacturer warranty to double check what is actually covered.

Landlord boiler cover takes the stress out of boiler breakdowns and repairs. You’ll avoid having to pay a large sum of money to repair your boiler, as well as a regular annual service scheduled to keep your manufacturer warranty valid. With the cover you’ll also get access to a helpline, unlimited call outs, and the added bonus of repairs to the boiler’s controls should they develop a fault. With cover, it’s always best to double check you’re getting the best deal possible.

What’s the difference between homeowner boiler cover and landlord boiler cover?

Boiler cover for a homeowner will usually include repairs for both your boiler and controls, an annual boiler service, and several call outs included in the monthly price. The main difference with landlord boiler cover is that you’ll get a Landlord Gas Safety Record, which is a legal document that shows that you have had your gas appliances checked annually.

TLA Landlord Survey Q2, 2020 (TLALS)

TLA Landlord Survey Q2, 2020 (TLALS)

Introduction and main findings

  1. The 2019-20 TLA Landlord Survey (TLALS) is a survey of landlords and letting agents who own and/or manage privately rented properties in England.
  2. The aim of the TLALS is to provide understanding of the characteristics and experiences of landlords and how they acquire, let, manage and maintain privately rented accommodation.
  3. Since 2010, the private rented sector has undergone substantial growth and change. The number of households in the sector rose by 25% between 2010-11 and 2018-19, from 3.6 million to 5.5 million households.
  4. The private rented sector is now the second largest tenure in England, and is home to over a fifth of all households.
  5. The private rented sector is characterised by diversity, containing a wide range of different sub-markets, serving a wide range of different types of households across all incomes, including an increasing number of families.
  6. In 2019, 46% of households in the private rented sector included dependent children (2.6 million households, up from 1.1 million in 2010-11).
  7. There are high rates of turnover in the private rented sector, with the number of house moves significantly higher than in the owner occupied and social rented sectors, both within the sector and between it and the other sectors.
  8. Since 2010, there have also been a number of policy changes affecting private landlords. These include tax changes for Buy to Let landlords, changes to the Stamp Duty Land Tax, tightening lending criteria on Buy to Let mortgages and the growing role of the Build to Rent sector.

These changes were made as part of the government’s wider efforts to make the housing market work for everyone and to ensure the housing market delivers the homes the nation needs.

The survey involved agents who let and / or manage property on behalf of landlords. For brevity, the term ‘agent’ is used throughout the report to describe agents who let and / or manage properties.

This report provides an overview of the private landlord population in England.

The first chapter covers the characteristics of landlords, why and how they became a landlord and how they view their current role.

We also include an overview of private rented dwellings and the households living in them, including the types and location of rented homes and the types of tenants. It also explores how landlords and agents set rents and the circumstances around how tenancies end.

Our survey examines landlord and agent attitudes, including the willingness of landlords and agents to let to different types of tenants and views on longer tenancies. It also presents findings on landlord and agent compliance with current legal requirements.

Other chapters provide evidence regarding the likely future of the private rented sector by setting out findings about landlords’ stated future plans, attitudes towards landlord insurance, boiler care issues and other landlord trends and habits – both past, present and in the future.

Full details of the survey sampling, weighting and reporting conventions are in the technical notes at the end of this report.

Briefly, the TLALS is an online survey of almost 8,000 landlord members of The Landlord Association and 550 lettings agents – all of whom are registered with The Landlord Association or partnering without profit or monetary gain.

All statistics were gathered between December 13th 2019 – January 22nd 2020 and reflect results for the period between January 20th 2019 to December 1st 2019.

Main Findings

These correspond to an estimated 1.8 million landlords operating in the private, residential property rental sector.

Most landlords operate as private individuals rather than as part of a company or organisation.

94% of landlords rent property as an individual, 4% as part of a company and 2% as part of some other organisation.

While almost half of landlords own just one property, half of private rented sector tenancies are let by the 17% of landlords with five or more properties.

45% of landlords have just one rental property. This represents 21% of the private rented sector.

A further 38% own between two and four properties (representing 31% of the sector). The remaining 17% of landlords own five or more properties, representing 48% of the private rented sector.

Ignoring the methodological differences, since 2010, the proportion of landlords with just one property has declined from 78% to 45% or from 40% to 21% of the sector. Meanwhile, the proportion of landlords with five or more properties increased from 5% to 17% or from 39% to 48% of the sector.

Landlords are, on average, older and less ethnically diverse than the general population. Most have been landlords for some time.

Over half (59%) of landlords are aged 55 years or older. Not surprisingly, given the older age profile, a third (33%) of landlords are retired. The majority (89%) of landlords are White.

70% of landlords have let property for 6 years or more. The average (mean) length of time that landlords had let property was 11.5 years.

Landlords most commonly reported that they had become landlords because property was preferable to other investments and/or to contribute to their pension.

46% of landlords became a landlord because they preferred property to other investments; 44% did so to contribute to their pension. Only 4% became a landlord to let property as a full-time business.

Although 53% of landlords bought their first rental property with the intention of renting it out, 32% did so to live in themselves.

Landlords who had been letting for longer were more likely to have used a mortgage to fund their first rental property and more likely to currently use a Buy to Let mortgage compared to more recent landlords.

Almost two thirds (63%) of those who had been a landlord for three years or less had used a mortgage to fund their first rental property compared to three quarters of those who had been a landlord for longer (73% of those who had been a landlord for between four and 10 years, and 75% of those a landlord for 11 or more years).

About half (49%) of those who had been a landlord for three years or less had a Buy to Let mortgage to fund their current property/ies.

This increased to 58% of those who had been letting for between four and 10 years, and 54% for those letting for 11 or more years.

Landlords, on average, report a gross rental income of £15,000 per year (before tax and other deductions). For most landlords income from rent makes up two fifths (42%) of their total gross income.

The average (median) gross rental income (before tax and other deductions) is £15,000. Three in five (61%) landlords had gross rental income of less than £20,000, while a further quarter (26%) reported between £20,000 and £49,999.

Thirteen percent reported a gross rental income of £50,000 or more.

Using their annual reported gross income (before tax and other deductions and excluding rental income) and their gross rental income, it was calculated that landlords received 42% of their total gross income from rental property.

Over the next two years, half of landlords plan to keep the number of rental properties the same, with similar proportions planning to increase the number of properties as those planning to decrease or leave the rental business.

53% of landlords planned to keep their number of rental properties the same, with 11% planning to increase the number of properties they own. This compared with 10% of landlords who planned to reduce the number of properties (representing 18% of tenancies) and 5% planning to sell all their rental property and leave the
rental business (representing 5% of tenancies).

Letting practices vary between landlords and agents. For example, agents are more likely than landlords to increase rent for a new tenant and for a tenancy renewal. They are also more likely to require a larger deposit.

50% of agents increased the rent for their last letting to a new tenant compared to 42% of landlords. For their most recent tenancy renewal 70% of landlords kept the rent the same compared to 63% of agents. A third (31%) of agents increased the rent for existing tenants, compared to 22% of landlords.

For their last letting, 61% of agents took a deposit of more than four and up to six weeks’ rent (45% of landlords took a deposit of this size). Almost half (47%) of landlords took a deposit of up four weeks’ rent (compared with 29% of agents).

Meanwhile, landlords are less willing than agents to let to certain groups, including those in receipt of Housing Benefit and Universal Credit, non-UK passport holders and families.

52% of landlords and 37% of agents reported that they would be unwilling to let to tenants in receipt of Housing Benefit. Similar proportions reported that they would be unwilling to let to anyone on Universal Credit (47% and 33% respectively).

The most commonly reported reasons for not letting to this group included the risk of delay in payment or unpaid rent and the risk that benefits would not cover the rent.

A quarter (25%) of landlords and 10% of agents are unwilling to let to non-UK passport holders. Reasons for this were not explored.

18% of landlords and 6% of agents are unwilling to let to families.

Most often this was because their property or properties were unsuitable for families and also because of the greater risk of damage to the property.

Landlords were asked how many rental properties they own in England.

  • In 2019, 45% owned one rental property, representing 21% of tenancies.
  • A further 38% owned between two and four rental properties, representing 31% of tenancies.
  • The remaining 17% of landlords owned five or more properties, representing almost half (48%) of tenancies,
  • The portfolios of individual landlords were considerably smaller than those of companies and organisations.
  • Most individual landlords (85%) owned between one and four properties, with just under half (47%) owning only one
    rental property.
  • The remaining 15% of individual landlords owned five or more
    properties.
  • By comparison, 46% of companies owned between one and four properties, with only 10% owning one rental property.
  • Just over half (54%) owned five or more rental properties, including 14% who owned 25 or more
  • Landlords with a Buy to Let mortgage were more likely than landlords with another kind of loan, or with no debt or borrowing, to own multiple rental properties.
  • About a third (37%) of landlords with a Buy to Let mortgage owned one property, with two thirds (63%) owning two or more properties.
  • Of landlords with another kind of loan, the proportion with one property alone increased to half (51%), while half (49%) owned two or more properties.
  • Among landlords with no debt or borrowing to fund their rental property, more than half (55%) owned one property and less than half (45%) owned two or more properties
  • Landlords who had been letting for longer tended to have larger portfolios. Of landlords with 11 or more years’ experience, 70% had two or more properties, compared with 48% of those who had been letting for four to 10 years and
    22% of those who had been a landlord for three years or less
  • Between 2010 and 2019, there has been a significant decrease in the proportion of landlords with just one property, from 78% to 45%. This decrease may in part be a function of the different methodology, e.g. such landlords may have longstanding tenants.

Ending a Tenancy and Tenant Eviction

  • Three quarters of landlords and agents were willing to offer longer tenancies of more than 12 months.
  • 40% were willing to offer longer tenancies.
  • An additional 38% of landlords and agents were willing to if there was a break clause in place to enable tenants and landlords to break the contract if required.
  • Landlords and agents who reported a tenancy ending within the last two years were asked why this tenancy (or these tenancies) had ended. The findings are reported for both landlords and agents together because agents are likely
    to be responding on behalf of a number of landlords that they represent and it is not appropriate to compare the responses of the two groups.
  • The most common reason, selected by half (50%) of landlords and agents, was that it was the end of the tenancy and the tenant decided not to renew. A quarter (25%) of landlords and agents reported that tenancies ended because the tenant moved out before the end of the tenancy
  • Other reasons for tenancies ending included the landlord or agent asking the tenant to leave (3%), the landlord or agent evicting the tenant (15%)

Eviction Numbers Increasing

Where landlords and agents reported that they had chosen to end a tenancy in the last two years either by asking the tenant to leave, not renewing a tenancy or evicting a tenant, they were asked to select the reasons for this

  • The most common reason for landlords and agents to end tenancies, selected by over half (58%) of landlords and agents, was that the tenant was in arrears.
  • Less than half (45%) of landlords and agents chose to end a tenancy because the property was not cared for.
  • Other reasons for ending the tenancy included to refurbish the property and relet it (18%), to sell the property (10%) and that the tenant had too many complaints about the property (13%)

Landlords and agents were asked what would encourage them to offer longer tenancies.

  • They most commonly reported that they would if it was easier to remove problem tenants (70%).

In most cases, landlords and agents report that it is the tenant’s choice to end a tenancy.

  • 50% of landlords and agents reported that, in the last two years, they had ended at least one tenancy because the tenancy ended and the tenant did not want to renew.
  • A quarter (25%) ended because the tenant had moved out before the tenancy had ended.
  • Meanwhile, 7% of landlords and agents asked the tenant to
    leave, 7% evicted the tenant and 4% decided not to renew.
  • The most common reasons for evicting, asking a tenant to leave or not renewing a tenancy were due to rent arrears (58%) or due to the tenant not caring for the property (45%).
  • In relation to the last tenancy that ended, 60% of landlords and 54% of agents returned the full deposit to the tenant. A quarter (24%) of landlords and 30% of agents returned some of the deposit.
  • Landlords and agents did not return the deposit (either in part or at all) due to damage to the property or contents (65% of landlords and 60% of agents) and to clean the property for the next tenant (65% of landlords and 65% of agents).

Profile of private landlords

This chapter presents findings on the types and characteristics of landlords, their finances, their motivations for becoming a landlord and their perceived role as a landlord. These questions were asked only of landlords and so this chapter does not include agents

Landlord types

  • Landlords were asked how they currently let their property. The majority (94%) let property as an ‘individual or a group of individuals’, with 4% ‘as part of a company’ and the remaining 2% as part of some ‘other’ organisation. (For track, The Landlord Association is not represented as an ‘other’ organisation. We are exempt from the options to avoid confusion when sumissing landlords as individuals when also part of a collective entity)

Landlord population by landlord type

  • Most (83%) tenancies were represented by individual landlords, with companies representing 13% and other organisations 4%,
  • In 2010, 89% of all landlords in England were private individuals, with 5% company landlords and 6% other organisation landlords.
  • Individual landlords represented 71% of all private rented dwellings, with companies representing 15% and other organisations 14%
  • Landlords were asked how many rental properties they own in England. In 2018, 45% owned one rental property, representing 21% of tenancies.
  • A further 38% owned between two and four rental properties, representing 31% of tenancies.
  • The remaining 17% of landlords owned five or more properties, representing almost half (48%) of tenancies
  • The portfolios of individual landlords were considerably smaller than those of companies and organisations. Most individual landlords (85%) owned between one and four properties, with just under half (47%) owning only one
    rental property. The remaining 15% of individual landlords owned five or more properties. By comparison, 46% of companies owned between one and four properties, with only 10% owning one rental property. Just over half (54%)
    owned five or more rental properties, including 14% who owned 25 or more,
  • Landlords with a Buy to Let mortgage were more likely than landlords with another kind of loan, or with no debt or borrowing, to own multiple rental properties. About a third (37%) of landlords with a Buy to Let mortgage owned one property, with two thirds (63%) owning two or more properties. Of landlords with another kind of loan, the proportion with one property alone increased to half (51%), while half (49%) owned two or more properties. Among landlords with no debt or borrowing to fund their rental property, more than half (55%) owned one property and less than half (45%) owned two or more properties
  • Landlords who had been letting for longer tended to have larger portfolios. Of landlords with 11 or more years’ experience, 70% had two or more properties, compared with 48% of those who had been letting for four to 10 years and 22% of those who had been a landlord for three years or less
  • Between 2010 and 2018, there has been a significant decrease in the proportion of landlords with just one property, from 78% to 45%. This decrease may in part be a function of the different methodology, e.g. such landlords may have longstanding tenants for whom they have not taken a
    deposit.

Age, ethnicity and time spent as a landlord

  • Individual landlords were asked questions about their personal characteristics and landlord journey
  • Landlords were, on average (median), 57 years old. This is older than the general population. At the time of the 2011 Census, the median age for the population of England and Wales was 39 years.
  • Over half (59%) of landlords were aged 55 or older, representing 62% of tenancies
  • In 2010, 70% of landlords had been landlords for 10 years or less, representing 48% of tenancies. The difference between 2018 and 2010 suggests that the average length of experience as a landlord has increased since then, but this could reflect changes in methodology

Financing & Buy to Let Mortgages

  • Compared with longer standing landlords, recent landlords were more likely to have bought their first rental property to live in themselves and less likely to have bought it with the intention of letting it. Over a third (37%) of landlords that had been a landlord for three years or less bought their first property to live in themselves, compared with 28% of those who had been a landlord for 11 or more years. On the other hand, half (49%) of those who had been a landlord for three years or less bought their first rental property with the intention of letting it out, compared to two thirds (58%) of those who had been a landlord for 11 or more years
  • Landlords who had bought or built their first rental property were asked about the sources of funding for this purchase or build. Almost three quarters (72%) reported using a mortgage, 37% used personal savings and 8% used an inheritance
  • Recent landlords were less likely to have used a mortgage to fund their first rental property, compared to longer standing landlords. Almost two thirds (63%) of those who had been a landlord for three years or less had used a mortgage. In comparison, around three quarters of those who had been a landlord for longer had used a mortgage (73% of those who had been a landlord between four and 10 years, and 75% of those a landlord for 11 or more years),
  • In 2018, 29% of landlords were employed full-time and 11% part-time. A third (33%) of landlords were retired. Less than a fifth (16%) of landlords were selfemployed (not as landlord), with a further 13% self-employed as a landlord
  • Over half of tenancies were represented either by landlords who were retired (28%) or those self-employed as a landlord (30%)

Property values and borrowing

  • Landlords were asked the approximate value of their total rental property portfolio. The average (median) total market value of landlord rental portfolios was £400,000. Nearly a quarter (23%) of landlords had portfolios they valued at less than £200,000. A further 36% had portfolios they valued from
    £200,000 to £499,999. Nearly a quarter (22%) had a portfolio they valued from £500,000 to £999,999, with the remaining 18% having rental property portfolios valued at £1 million or more
  • The longer the time spent letting, the more likely landlords were to have a higher value portfolio. Of those who had been a landlord for three years or less, only 15% had a portfolio valued at more than £500,000. This rose to 32% of those who had been letting for between four and 10 years and to over
    half (54%) of those letting for more than 10 years
  • The average (mean) estimated value per rental property for all landlords was £261,900 with the average house value £243,000
  • Landlords who reported using borrowing or loans to fund their rental property were also asked the approximate value of such borrowing. The average (median) value of loans or borrowing was £180,000. One in three (29%) landlords using borrowing had loans of less than £100,000, with a further 38% having loans of between £100,000 and £300,000. The remaining third (33%) had loans of £300,000 or more
  • The longer a landlord had been letting the higher the value of their loans or borrowing. Only 3% of landlords who had been letting for three years or less had borrowing of £500,000 or more. This rose to 12% for those who had been letting for between four to 10 years and to 27% for those who had been letting for more than 10 years
  • The median equity or net value of landlord rental portfolios was £220,000, calculated from the median value of landlord rental portfolios minus median value of loans or borrowing.
  • For those who had existing loans or borrowing, the loan to value ratio of the borrowing was calculated using the landlord’s estimate of their portfolio’s market value. The median loan to value ratio for these landlords was 50%.
  • Over a third (34%) of landlords with debt or borrowing on their rental properties had a loan to value ratio of 39% or less, with another third (32%) one of 40 to 59%. A quarter (25%) had a loan to value ratio of between 60 to 79%, with a further 9% having a loan to value ratio of 80% or more. Of these
    landlords, 4% had an estimated loan to value ratio of 100% or more,

Portfolio loan to value ratios for landlords with debt

  • Landlords were asked which, if any, types of loans or borrowing they currently have to fund their rental property. Over half (55%) of landlords had a Buy to Let mortgage, representing 61% of tenancies. More than a third (39%) of landlords had no debt or borrowing, representing 30% of tenancies. Smaller proportions had a commercial loan (4%) or a loan from family or friends (3%),

Extent and type of borrowing for funding of rental property

  • Landlords who had been letting for longer were more likely to have a Buy to Let mortgage. Of landlords who had been a landlord for three or less years, almost half (49%) had a Buy to Let mortgage. This increased to 58% of those who had been letting for between four and 10 years, and 54% for those letting for 11 or more years
  • Of recent landlords (three years or less), 43% had no loans or borrowing to fund their rental property, compared to 34% for those who had been a landlord for between four and 10 years and 42% for those landlords who had been letting for more than 10 years

Type of rental property currently let or managed by landlords and agents

  • Landlords with larger portfolios are more likely to be letting a wider range of property types. As such, the proportion of landlords with each property type increased with portfolio size
  • For instance, the most common type of property for landlords with portfolios of all sizes were terraced houses. A third (32%) of landlords with one property had a terraced house, while half (48%) of those with between two and four properties had at least one, as did 70% of those with five or more properties in their portfolio. However, the distribution of types of properties was similar for landlords with different sized portfolios

Gas and Boiler Issues in let property

  • Landlords reported a rise (10%) from 2018 in boiler repairs with 12% of property requiring a repair on a gas boiler within their let properties during 2019. Furthermore, an increase of 2% from 2018-19 required a replacement gas boiler (6%)

Types of Gas Boiler by replacement type

  • Types of gas boilers by replacement type
    • Combi – 44%
    • Regular – 40%
    • System – 16%

By regional breakdown

  • The most boiler repairs were needed in London with 6.08% of boilers estimated to have broken down during this period. This was closely followed by the West Midlands at 6.04% and the North East at 5.59%.
  • Boilers are least likely to break down in Yorkshire with 4.27%, Scotland at 4.38% and the North West at 4.79%.
  • These results, at an average of 5.1% nationally, suggests 30,000+ boiler repairs were undertaken on property within portlofios managed by landlords under the guidance of The Landlord Association

Landlord Insurance

  • up 12% on 2018, 79% of landlords reported having landlord insurance cover for their properties, by type popularity
    • Buildings Insurance
    • Contents Insurance
    • Boiler Care Cover
    • Public Liability Insurance
    • Landlord Emergency Cover
    • Rent Guarantee Insurance
    • Unoccupied Property
  • A further 18% of all landlords indicated that they were either thinking of or actively seeking to insure their properties currently uninsured, up 7% on the previous year
  • Landlords with a single property were less likely to have a insurance policy (68%) than those with a portfolio of two properties or more (87%)

Boiler Cover Insurance

22% of landlords indicated that they have boiler care cover (up 12% on 2018) suggesting that over 130,000 property are insured with some kind of cover to protect their boilers for repair and replacement

of those without boiler care cover, 15% suggested they were either thinking of getting cover or were actively seeking to get cover (90,000 properties).

Of the reasons given for not having boiler cover (1) Not enough time (2) too expensive (3) not important (4) Did not renew previous policy (5) portfolio cover options minimal (6) No gas in property (18%).

© TLA copyright, 2020. 

This survey may be republished in part or full without permission. If you require any further information regarding the collation of this survey or indeed any of the information and statistics included please email dean@landlordexpert.co.uk.

This document/publication is also available on our website at www.landlordexpert.co.uk. All rights reserved by The Landlord Association.

Thousands of renters could be evicted in June. Will the government protect them?

When the lockdown ends what will happen to tenants? Almost nine million households, more than a third of all families in Britain, rent from a private landlord, a council or a housing association.

Because of coronavirus, many are now in financial need. Nearly two million claims for universal credit have been made since lockdown measures were announced in the UK. Welfare claimants are entitled to payments equivalent to housing benefit. But, as a result of changes made to benefits over the last decade (like the bedroom tax and restrictions to local housing allowance), it is increasingly rare for housing benefit to pay all of a tenant’s rent.

Others, although ineligible for universal credit, are also in difficulty: because they have received a redundancy cheque that will soon be spent, or their self-employed grant hasn’t arrived yet. Then there are furloughed workers, paid now, but waiting for news of redundancies from their employer.

Right now, all possession hearings – the main step in evicting a tenant – are “stayed”. This is the legal equivalent of putting food in a freezer. The cases are still there, ready to be thawed out at any moment.

Where a tenant is behind with their rent, landlords can issue them with a notice instructing them to leave, but (for the moment) the tenant can ignore it. On 25 June the housing courts will reopen for business. Judges will have to determine thousands of stayed pre-coronavirus cases, and the even greater number of new claims for possession arising from the lockdown.

Ministers have grasped that hundreds of thousands of homes are at risk. Earlier this week the housing minister, Robert Jenrick, announced that the government was working closely with judges to draft a “pre-action protocol” for when the stay is lifted.

He told MPs that the protocol will “enable tenants to have an added degree of protection, because instead of embarking upon the eviction proceedings immediately, there will be a duty upon their landlords to reach out to them, discuss their situation, and try to find an affordable repayment plan”.

The problem with the protocol is that it is toothless – essentially depending on the benevolence of landlords.

The two most common ways landlords seek possession are under “section 21” and “ground 8”. Section 21 provides that where a landlord has complied with certain procedural requirements (like issuing a notice using the correct form and waiting for a prescribed time before applying to court) the court must order possession.

The statute does not require a landlord to have complied with the government’s proposed pre-action protocol. For that reason, even where landlords have rushed to issue proceedings, and have ignored requests from tenants to defer payments for a short time, judges will be required to approve evictions.

Ground 8 provides that where a tenant is in rent arrears (eight weeks if the rent is due weekly), both when the landlord serves a notice on them and when the hearing takes place, the court must order possession.

Again, the court takes no account of the landlord’s conduct; it focuses simply on the amount of the tenant’s arrears. In these circumstances, if the new protocol is as the minister describes it, it will not protect tenants at all.

There are alternatives. In last year’s general election, the Conservatives committed to abolish section 21 as part of their “better deal for renters”. The government reaffirmed that commitment in the Queen’s speech, announcing a renters’ reform bill to include the abolition of section 21. They should be held to that promise. As for ground 8, it too needs to be abolished. Or, if that is impossible, rescinded for such time until tenants have had a chance to reduce their debts once they’re able to go back to work.

Abolishing or rescinding ground 8 would not prevent landlords relying on other grounds of possession. But, without it in place, judges will be free to order possession only if reasonable – thereby giving effect to the tenant defences the government says that it wants in place. One further advantage of abolishing ground 8 is that courts can turn to other possession proceedings in which possession orders are made but suspended, while tenants are given the chance to repay arrears to a realistic plan.

Muddling on without the abolition of section 21 and ground 8 will lead to millions of people forced out of their homes. It will send those evicted scattering – some to stay with elderly relatives, some into local authority housing (although it is at breaking point) and many into homelessness.

The government accepts that street homelessness speeds the transmission of coronavirus: this is the grim calculation that underpins the government’s granting of resources to councils to house rough sleepers. Drifting into a future where huge numbers of people lose their homes needlessly would be just as dangerous – for those who are evicted, and for everyone else.

 David Renton is a housing barrister at Garden Court Chambers

Tenant Vandalism Is Increasing – Your Landlord Insurance Should Cover It

Vandalism is the cause of a third (32%) of malicious damage claims to landlord’s properties, an analysis by Direct Line for Business has found.

Police forces across England and Wales investigate 283 incidents of criminal damage to properties every day, the equivalent of one every five minutes.

Criminal damage includes issues such as vandalism, graffiti and even arson.

Sarah Larkin, landlord product manager at Direct Line for Business, said: “The scale of vandalism, arson and property damage across the country is frightening.

“Not only are property owners faced with the cost of repairing damage, there is the emotional stress that a home has been attacked.

“We need the enforcement of tough penalties to discourage people from vandalising properties and ensuring those that commit these crimes feel the full force of the law.”

The number of landlord insurance claims resulting from malicious damage has risen by 37% over the past five years.

The highest number of incidents of malicious damage to property in the first half of 2019 were investigated by the Metropolitan Police Service, with 6,014 cases recorded in London.

This was followed by Greater Manchester Police with 5,170 cases investigated and West Yorkshire Police with 4,207.

Former and current tenants are responsible for causing damage to a property in 31% of incidents.

Larkin added: “Landlords can reduce the risk of criminals targeting their properties by installing security measures such as CCTV and motion sensor lighting.

“However, our analysis shows that rogue tenants are also a cause of significant damage to properties.

“To reduce the risk of renting a property to someone that won’t treat it responsibly, landlords should complete comprehensive checks before signing a contract.

“These checks would identify irregularities such as if an individual has any CCJs against them, will confirm their current address, search for any aliases used and verify bank account details amongst other checks.”

TLA Landlord Insurance Guide (2)

Landlord insurance is not compulsory – think of it as bulked-up home insurance to cover extra perils such as non-payment of rent or damage by tenants – but it can be very costly to go without it if disaster strikes. Our tips help you decide if it’s right for you.

It isn’t a legal requirement but without it you may not be covered if you have tenants

If you’re going to be a landlord, you won’t be breaking the law if you don’t take out specialist insurance. However, if you rent out a property to any kind of tenant and want to be protected in case anything goes wrong, standard home buildings and contents insurance usually won’t cover you – you’ll need a landlord policy instead.

This is because insurers view the risk of renters living in your property – and the chances of them making a claim on an insurance policy – very differently to you, the owner, living in it instead. Two young students who enjoy socialising renting a flat, for example, pose a greater claims risk to an insurer than an older professional couple who own their property.

Also, there may be some cases where a buildings policy is not necessary. For example, if you own a leasehold property in a block of flats and rent it out, you could find the block freeholder has their own buildings insurance which should cover you in the event of any incident such as a leaking washing machine ruining your floor – and the flat below’s ceiling.

Yet not all freeholders will have a comprehensive buildings insurance policy so if you’re in this situation, double-check.

Landlord insurance is ‘bulked-up’ home insurance, covering all the usual, plus tenant issues

Landlord insurance is usually an umbrella term given to different strands of cover bolted together for anyone who owns a home they rent out, and it’s entirely up to you to decide what it includes, though the more you add the more it costs. These are your options:

  1. Buildings cover. To rebuild or repair your home if the structure is damaged.
  2. Cover for YOUR contents. If stolen by someone other than your tenant (see below as there’s separate cover for this) or damaged by fire, flood and more. It will NOT pay out for a tenant’s contents.
  3. Loss of rent. If tenants don’t pay up or are rehoused if your home’s damaged.
  4. Accidental/malicious damage or theft by tenants. If your goods or furnishings are stolen or damaged by tenants.
  5. Legal expenses. If you take action when dealing with tenant disputes.
  6. Public liability. If a tenant or visitor is injured on your property and claims against you.
  7. Property damage due to illegal cultivation of drugs. By your tenant, of course
  8. Eviction of squatters. Where a tenant simply won’t leave.

There are other considerations too: (All of these guides will be available shortly)

  1. TLA Landlord Insurance GUIDE (1)
  2. Membership of a Landlord Association is no Replacement for Cover (GUIDE)
  3. Contents Insurance – Furnished Property Insurance (GUIDE)
  4. Leasehold Flats – All You Need to Know About Buildings Insurance
  5. Buildings Insurance and Mortgage Applications – You Will Need Both When Re/Mortgaging (GUIDE)
  6. Renting Out Your Main Home Insurance (GUIDE)
  7. Making to Make a Claim on Your Landlord Insurance (GUIDE)

Insurers will ask what your tenants do (and may charge more if they’re students or on housing benefit)

When you buy landlord insurance, you’ll be asked what kind of tenant you rent to – usually early on in the application process.

You’ll generally be asked to choose from a dropdown box or to tick a box showing what type of tenant you have. These are the main categories you can choose from:

  1. Employees
  2. Students
  3. Those in receipt of housing benefits
  4. Unemployed
  5. Self-employed
  6. Asylum seekers
  7. Retired
  8. A mix of the above

It matters because the type of tenant you rent your property out to will have an impact on how much you pay for landlord insurance. Choose to let to students or those in receipt of housing benefit (and the unemployed) and you’ll pay more.

This is because these groups’ lack of income – or low level of take-home pay – means they’re a higher risk to insurers, which worry you’ll struggle to fill your rental property. In particular, you’ll pay a much steeper premium if you want your policy to cover you for non-payment of rent.

Not every insurer is willing to cover all types of tenant but most will give you a broad choice of tenant categories. However, you must always make it clear to an insurer who it is you’ll be renting to. Fail to do so and you could invalidate your policy.

You’ll need extra cover if the property is left vacant for more than 30 days

You’ll need extra cover if the property is left vacant for more than 30 days

Most policies will cover you for a claim if your property’s left empty for a short period, usually 30 days – handy if you’re planning a quick renovation or kitchen overhaul. So if thieves broke in or your property suffered damage from a water leak, you’d get a payout.

But if you know the property is going to be sitting empty for several months – for major works, say – you’ll need to tell your insurer and agree additional cover, or pay extra to take out a separate ‘unoccupied property insurance’ policy to add to your existing landlord cover.

If you don’t, you could find yourself uninsured and out of pocket during that period if the property is taken over by squatters, vandalised or damaged by fire or flood.

You MUST provide smoke and carbon monoxide alarms – if not, you may invalidate your policy

These alarms should be on every floor of the property you’re letting and you’ll need to test them frequently. You also need to make sure the property is safe for tenants – eg, having up-to-date building and electrical installation safety regulation certificates – and carry out any necessary repairs.
Plus, you’ll need to have all gas and electrical equipment checked regularly and ensure it meets safety requirements. Fail to do so and insurers can deem your policy invalid. Your tenants can then take you to court and you won’t be able to use legal cover to fund the claim.

TLA Landlord Insurance Guide

Work out what cover you need

Your sums insured are the values of what you need your policy to cover. The main sums insured you need to calculate are your buildings, contents and property owners’ liability:

Buildings: You should give your insurer the rebuild value of your property, rather than the market value or the price you paid for it. You can use the Association of British Insurers Rebuild Calculator to help you work this out.

Contents: You should give your insurer a total value of the replacement cost of your contents at your rental property. Create an inventory by going to each room, and noting everything you would need to replace in the event of a claim.

Property owners’ liability: You can usually choose a limit of £1 million, £2 million or £5 million. While a lower limit should be sufficient, you may need to choose higher cover if you rent several properties.
If you do not give the correct sums to your insurer, you may not be able to recover the full cost of any claims.

Choose the right loss of rent cover

This covers the loss of your rental income if your tenants have to move out because of damage to your property.

It is important to get the right cover to protect loss of rental income, especially if you rely on your rent to pay your mortgage. Your insurer will ask you to specify:

  1. Monthly rental income: Some insurers ask for the monthly figure you earn each month, and others offer a percentage of the rebuild value of your property.
  2. Indemnity period: This is the time you need to claim for while your property is being repaired. You can usually choose between 12, 24 and 36 months. Think about how long it would take to rebuild your property and find new tenants.#
  3. Loss of rent cover is not the same as rent guarantee protection, which covers you if your tenants fail to pay. Here is more information about rent guarantee insurance.

Cover your tenants

Tell your insurer the type of tenants you let to, as this will determine the sort of cover you need and may affect the price of your insurance:

Professional let: Letting to working professionals usually earns you a cheaper premium, because they are considered least likely to cause damage or withhold rent.

Students: Letting to students is usually more expensive, as insurers think they are more likely to cause damage to your property. An insurance broker could help you find specialist student cover.

Department of Social Security (DSS): Letting to tenants who claim housing benefits can be more expensive and you may struggle to get cover. There are insurers who specialise in DSS tenants, and a broker may be able to help you find cheap cover.

Tenants with pets: Some insurers do not cover pet damage, so look for a policy where you can add this if your tenants have pets. Order your good practice guide for letting to tenants with pets from The Dogs Trust Lets with Pets website.

Family members: Most insurers can cover letting a property to family members, but they may require a formal tenancy agreement to be in place. The HomeLet website has more information about renting to family members.

Decide what optional cover you need

You can tailor most landlord insurance policies to include extra cover you may need, including:

Accidental damage: This covers things like tenants accidentally spilling wine on your carpets, or breaking a window. Some insurers include this as standard, but you usually have to add this for an extra cost.

Malicious damage by tenants: This covers tenants deliberately damaging your property. It costs more to add this to your policy, but is worth considering if you have had problems with tenants damaging your property before.

Pet damage: This covers property damage claims caused by pets, for example scratched flooring or chewed furniture. The Dogs Trust Lets with Pets have more advice about letting to tenants with pets.

Rent guarantee: This covers lost rent if your tenants stop paying, and includes legal expenses to help with evicting problem tenants. You may be able to add this to an existing landlord policy, or you can look for standalone cover on our comparison.

Home emergency: This provides immediate assistance, for things like burst pipes or boiler breakdown. You can give the home emergency claims number to your tenants, so they can report problems to your insurer straight away.

Look at specialist insurance

Some properties need more specialist cover than others, so speak to an insurer who can offer the right cover for your circumstances:
Houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs)

A property is classed as a house of multiple occupancy if both of the following apply:

  • More than three tenants live there, who are not family members
  • Your tenants share a toilet, bathroom or kitchen

If you own an HMO you may need a licence from your local council, and there will be a number of extra responsibilities you will need to meet.

Some insurers cannot offer cover for HMOs or will charge more. If you have an HMO, an insurance broker can help you find specialist cover.

Portfolio insurance

If you own several rental properties, it could be cheaper for you to insure all of them on one portfolio policy.

Most landlord insurers offer a discount for covering more than two properties under one policy, and you get the convenience of one policy document and one renewal date.

You should still compare single landlord policies to make sure you get the right cover for you at the best price.

Unoccupied properties

Most landlord insurance policies include full unoccupied property cover for a period of 30 days. This means you still get full cover while your property is empty.

Some insurers offer unoccupied cover for longer periods, for example 90 days, but once this time is up you must meet the following conditions:

  1. You must notify your insurer that the property is empty
  2. You must visit and check the property every seven days
  3. Water, gas and electricity must be switched off at the mains*
  4. All doors and windows must be locked
  5. All rubbish should be removed from the property

*Unless the electricity is supplying a security alarm.

If you fail to meet these conditions while your property is unoccupied, you may lose cover and your insurer will refuse any claims you make.

If your rental property will be empty for a long time, look at getting specialist unoccupied property insurance.

Pick your excess

Most insurers let you pick your excess, which affects how much you pay for your insurance. You can also pick different excesses for each section of cover.

A lower excess often means you pay more, but a higher excess may give you a discount.

Here is how to save money on your landlord insurance

  • Keep your insurer up to date
  • Once you take out cover, it is important to keep your insurer up to date with changes like:
    • Getting new tenants
    • The property being empty
    • Increases in rent
    • Increases in rebuild value or contents
    • Building works or refurbishments

Your insurer may refuse to pay your claims if you fail to inform them of changes to your circumstances, so make sure you call them to update your details as soon as possible.