Renting a home or apartment can be an exciting and rewarding time.
Whether you're house sharing with your friends, renting with your partner or heading off on your own, it's essential to understand who is responsible should any of your possessions get damaged.
Recent surveys suggest that almost half of tenants do not have contents cover but that they also assume their landlord is responsible for any breakages or damage to their personal property.
It may surprise you that this likely isn't the case, and if you wish to protect your personal possessions, you may want to consider a tenant insurance policy.
What is my landlord responsible for covering?
You may think because your belongings are inside your landlord's property, they would automatically fall under their insurance policy. Unfortunately, this isn't the case. Your landlord is responsible for getting buildings insurance to cover the property, its structure and the fixtures and fittings that remain in the property when you vacate.
If the landlord's washing machine, heating system, baths and toilets and any electrical items fail, it is the responsibility of your landlord to fix these. Under Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, they must maintain all of the above and any other integral structures like the water and central heating.
If you accidentally damage them, however, you may be responsible for the cost of fixing the items. Fortunately, tenants can consider Tenants Liability Insurance if they feel they could benefit from this type of cover.
However, even though your landlord will have certain insurances in place, it will not automatically cover your possessions, so how do you make sure your belongings are covered?
What type of insurance should I consider as a tenant?
There are a few options for you as a tenant if you are considering insurance policies. You could consider tenants contents insurance or just tenancy liability insurance. Whether you take out one or both, it's important to know the difference.
While Tenants Contents Insurance covers your personal possessions, Tenancy Liability Insurance covers accidental damage to your landlord's contents.
What is covered by tenants insurance?
Your possessions in the property are almost entirely your responsibility. As a tenant, your clothes, appliances, furniture, technology, decorations, and any other personal belongings are yours to take care of and to decide if you wish to cover them.
Some tenant contents insurance policies, such as ours, also cover money in the home (up to £500) and credit cards in the home (up to £200 per claim); contents in a secured garage, shed or outbuildings (up to £2,500 for theft) and locks changed following theft of keys (up to £1000) as standard, with a variety of options to extend cover further.
If you take out a contents policy with HomeLet, your contents will be covered in the event of theft, flood, escape of water or fire for up to £50,000 as standard (and you can add additional increased cover value should you wish – subject to referral). This also includes accidental damage to your TV, audio, DVD and desktop personal computer equipment.
Don't forget to check your policy to see what the highest value of each item you own can be for it to be covered. For example, valuables such as watches and jewellery are covered, but under our Contents Incorporating Tenancy Liability Policy, the most we will pay out for any one item is £2,500, and the most we pay for any one claim is £10,000. If you own a high-ticket item such as an engagement ring or heirloom, it is worth speaking to our helpful team to discuss add-on cover such as "specified personal belongings".
It's important to remember that if anything belonging to you becomes damaged due to any of the above incidents, landlords cannot be held liable, providing the property you're renting is safe to use and in good condition prior to the damage.
What won't I be covered for?
There are certain scenarios where your landlord won't be responsible if your contents get damaged, which is why we have designed a contents policy specifically for renters.
For example, if a pipe bursts and causes water damage to the kitchen, the landlord would be responsible for repairing the plumbing and any damage to the kitchen units/built-in appliances, but not any personal belongings you had in the kitchen, such as your laptop or phone.
We recommend reading through any policy wording to ensure the cover suits you and your situation. There are some key elements that aren't covered in our tenant insurance policy, such as general wear and tear to items; chewing, scratching, tearing or fouling by any pets you may have; or consequential or indirect losses.
If you find that what's covered in the standard policy is not enough, there are several optional add-ons that you could consider too. As accidental damage to mobile phones is excluded from our main policy, you may want to add the accidental damage extension, which will cover your mobile phone up to £300.
What about if I'm renting from a friend or family?
If your friend or family member owns an additional property they're happy to let out to you, then great! This is an ideal way to get started in the rental market. It is common for landlords to let their properties out to family members, and although it may be tempting not to bother with insurance policies, things can and do go wrong in friend or family situations. Having tenants cover in place will ensure that if anything happens, both parties have reassurance that you are covered in the event of an insurable incident. Plus, it shows what a responsible person you have become, capable of serious adulting!
Don't put yourself at risk
Whether you're renting with your partner, going it alone, or leaving university and setting up camp with your friends, considering whether you have the right level of cover in place for your contents is a wise move.
Don't forget that what your landlord covers in their insurance won't cover your personal belongings. You may have saved up for months to buy a laptop, only to find that your flat or house accidentally floods and it's damaged beyond repair.
Ensuring you're protected will mean you won't have to worry about the headache of getting your belongings replaced. Plus, with the benefit of our Tenancy Liability insurance covering the costs of immediately repairing or replacing any of your landlord's items you accidentally damage, you'll also avoid getting into annoying deposit deduction disputes with your landlord.