Landlord Flood Insurance & Flood Damage

Woaaah! Flood warnings are coming thick and fast in the UK at the moment, with thousands of home owners up and down the country facing the effects of flood damage to their properties. It can be devastating for those affected. But, what does it mean for landlords and tenants?

The responsibility to take action for flood damage is a murky issue for many landlords – as murky as flood water – and it’s something many landlords won’t have prepared for, especially in areas where flooding isn’t flagged as high-risk. If the recent weeks is anything to go by, even properties outside of the risk areas are vulnerable to the wrath of mother nature.

Who’s responsible for the flood damage, landlord or tenant?

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 requires landlords to keep rented accommodation in a reasonable state of repair, which includes making repairs to the property caused by flooding. However, dirty marks on the outer walls do not count as ‘flood damage’ on their own, even if it does look unsightly and causes house-proud tenants sleepless nights.

Damage that does require immediate attention by the landlord is that which affects the habitability of the property. For example, water soaking into carpets and physical damage to the structure of the building. It is also the landlords responsibility to replace any furnishings provided with the property. Water can also severely damage low-lying gas and electricity supply, so this to must be properly checked and could require extensive repair.

Does the tenant have to move out?

Minor flood damage
If the damage is minor, then there may not be any need for the tenant to vacate the property, although this means the landlord retains responsibility for the safety of the tenant during this time.

Moderate flood damage
If the repairs are going to take a few weeks and the property is inhabitable, the landlord is not obligated to find alternative accommodation for the tenant. However, the landlord’s insurance policy may include temporary rehousing for the tenants. In this instance, the tenants would carry on paying their normal rent to the landlord and any additional expense would be covered by the insurers. Once the work is complete and the property is habitable once again, the tenants would then be able to move back into the property.

Serious flood damage
In the unfortunate event that severe flood damage has been caused, and several months is required to complete the repairs, it might be worth calling upon the terms of the tenancy agreement to see what it says about this sort of situation. Some tenancy agreements state that if a property becomes uninhabitable due to fire or flood, then the tenancy is terminated. In any case, the tenant is responsible for finding alternative accommodation, and whether or not the tenancy will continue/remain after the repairs is dependent on what the tenancy agreement states. Although, in this situation, it might be best to mutually terminate the tenancy.

It’s also worth noting, people who have been made homeless by reason of fire or a natural disaster will be classed as “priority need”, which means they can contact the Local Authority to provide them with emergency accommodation.

Flood Insurance

An increasing amount of landlords are starting to stretch their policies to cover flood damage, but at an added expense, but it’s nothing compared to the costs that can escalate to repair flood damage. A landlord who is not covered against flooding has left themselves open to serious financial debt after a natural disaster.

I’m not familiar with too many insurance companies that do cover flood damage for landlords (i’m not entirely sure how sought after the policy is), but I’m sure there are plenty out there.!

If you are already covered for flood damage, it is important to remember that you need to satisfy the requirements of your insurance company if you are to make a claim on your policy when flood damage occurs. Some tenants may be applying pressure to have damaged units and carpets replaced quickly, but it is important that the insurance company gets to assess the damage before changes are made, should they so wish. Once the flooding has subsided and a tenant can access the property, they should then get in contact with the insurance provider. It’s also important to remember that tenant’s are responsible for their own personal belongings that they bring into the property, and not the landlord. Tenants should have a separate insurance policy to cover their own contents, as most landlords only get policies that cover the building and their own contents.

Unfortunately those affected by floods may face an increase in their premiums once the water finally drains away, so these costs may need to be factored in across a property portfolio.

Out of curiosity, have any of you landlords/tenants been in a situation where flood damage has occurred? I would be interested to know how the situation got resolved and who was responsible for what. Seems like a complicated and stressful scenario; something I’d never like to experience! I’d also like to mention, i’d question the sanity of any landlord that actually deems it appropriate to buy a property in a high-risk flooding area!

9 Comments- Join The Conversation...

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 16th July, 2012 @ 09:40

Hi Stella,

Many thanks, appreciate it.

I just read your articles (both well written). Admittedly, I had reserved 5mins to read your rhymes. It was a bit of a shock to discover how much you actually wrote :)

A few questions, if I may...

Did your insurance policy specifically cover flood damage? Is that the type of policy you consciously chose? Did your premium escalate because you made a claim, or because the area is now flagged as a flood-risk area, or perhaps both?

Good to know the insurance company paid out.

Interesting stuff. Thanks again

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Guest Avatar
Stella 11th January, 2014 @ 14:47

Hi,

It's Stella, I only just saw your reply! As did not have email notification about it. Thanks for reading my articles. I have many more and this year I am writing a book about a typical year in the life of a buy to let landlord. (UK based).

I still own the HMO that flooded in 2007 and have just renewed my insurance again. It's more than six years since the flood but I'm still having to pay 500 quid annual premium for flood insurance as compared to 150 prior to the flood.

Apparently the neighbouring property owners who are normal householders have to pay 3 times as much now with their own residentail insurance!

I'm amazed that we still have to pay such high premiums when flood defences have actually been put in place now. The house is not even on a flood plain and it is general consensus in the area that the village was deliberately flooded to protect the infrastructure of the town so surely the government should bear some responsibility for this and compensate us?

Most insurance companies say they will happily provide all risk cover on my property except flooding but I can't take that risk as there is no way I can find 65 grand if it happened again.

With regards to landlords' property insurance in general I have had a lot of claims but then there are some houses I never had a claim at all over 10 years of ownership but the insurance always put up my premiums when it comes to renewal. As I'm on a £250 excess lots of things like broken windows and leaks that damage only a small area. I don't even claim for some things as below the excess like an Ariel blew off the roof the other week and cost £65 to put back so most of the time I find myself out of pocket yet I'm still penalized for that.

Thanks and good luck for 2014 from one landlord to another.

2
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Anne 29th December, 2015 @ 16:17

If both a washing machine and tumble drier were damaged in a flood - whose responsibility is to replace these items ? Under my tenancy agreement it states that is the tenant's duty to replace if such items breakdown but surely this rule would not apply in the event of flooding ?

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Guest Avatar
Stella 29th December, 2015 @ 20:07

Are the appliances integral? Generally speaking these would be covered by the landlord's building's policy as they are classed as fixtures and fittings but free-standing appliances would not. It also depends on who purchased the items to begin with. A landlord's content's policy will cover items on the inventory owned by the landlord and tenant should have a contents policy in place to cover their own items.

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Hayley nuttall 14th January, 2016 @ 12:19

I am in rented accommodation and it was flooded with 3ft of water the landlady has been no where near as yet 3 week after the floods I cant live in the house as it's damp and contaminated I have 2 children under 5 do I still need to pay rent on the property

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stella 14th January, 2016 @ 12:53

Landlady's insurance should cover you for alternative accommodation costs. This should have been dealt with as soon as possible after the flooding. Get in touch with your landlady straight away. You can pay your rent as normal but only if landlady is going to do her bit to see you get alternative accommodation. Any good landlord's policy will have this covered as standard.

6
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hayley Nuttall 14th January, 2016 @ 13:54

Thanks Stella the landlady has already said it's not her problem and she will not help me with other accommodation but still expects me to pay rent on the property that is not habitable, it has been 3 week and no work at all has been done on this property not even dried out

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stella 14th January, 2016 @ 17:01

It is her problem. Don't pay your rent but put it in writing why you are not paying it - because the house is uninhabitable. If she hasn't got adequate buildings insurance to provide you with alternative accommodation, she cannot realistically expect you to stay there and continue paying rent and must allow you to find another place. My house that was flooded in 2007 was uninhabitable a year, and drying out can take months alone so you need to get somewhere else and end your current tenancy. Seeing as you have young children contact social services and council as they should be able to rehouse you immediately.

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Wastwater. 9th December, 2016 @ 22:42

Since flood re was introduced in April following the floods last winter, is it still possible to get landlord insurance to cover flood damage. ?

As I understand and I'm pretty confused it only covers houses built pre 2009 excludes small businesses and leased property.

Thinking about renting out a house with no mortgage in a high risk flood zone for the record it wasn't flooded in 2005/2009/2016 Cumbria.

Bit confused?!???!!

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