One of the most annoying aspects of being a landlord is dealing with maintenance issues. But specifically, having to track down someone to resolve the problem, which could entail calling several local tradesman, most of whom have a displeasing backlog of work (at least the reputable ones do).
It’s just irritating beyond belief, especially because it’s Sod’s law that breakdowns occur at the worst possible time, right? I’ve lost count the amount of times I’ve had to address a maintenance issue while on holiday, or towards the latter end of the year when the weather takes a turn for the worst, and everything naturally starts to crumble… for everyone!
So with that in mind, in comes Maintenance & Emergency Insurance– a landlord insurance policy designed to take away the headache for landlords in these very situations. So appealing is the idea of not having to deal with pesky emergency maintenance issues (e.g. leaking pipes, boiler breakdowns), or at least lesson the pain, that it is becoming increasingly popular among landlords.
Before we get down and dirty into the specifics, let’s remind ourselves why, we as landlords, need to take maintenance issues seriously…
Why dealing with maintenance issues quickly is imperative
Many landlords have this terrible misconception that delaying or completely avoiding emergency maintenance issues, particularly when it involves gas, water and electricity, is a money-saving tactic. It’s not. In fact, it’s the complete opposite, hence the utter misconception.
While human decency and morals should be enough to encourage every landlord to take hold of their obligations by providing their tenant with a safe and clean environment, it’s sadly not always enough. So here are a few other reasons…
Increases tenant turnover
Provide a poor service and tenants are more likely to end the tenancy, which creates a high tenant turnover.
In reality, it’s usually cheaper to resolve maintenance issues quickly as opposed to forcing a displeased tenant to leave, and then spending money on finding new tenants and swallowing the cost of void periods.
Problems can manifest
Generally, problems don’t get better with time. For example, a broken boiler is not like a glass of red wine, it won’t get better with age; it’s not going to progressively start improving it’s heating efficiency. On the contrary, it’s more likely to deteriorate day-by-day until it has nothing left to offer.
It’s usually always cheaper to attend to gas and electrical issues before they manifest into serious problems. In fact, that’s usually the case with any type of problem.
It’s amazing (and scary) how many landlords either fail to remember or simply don’t care, that it’s their legal obligation to keep their property in proper working order, that includes water, heating, gas and electricity.
Needless to say, failing to comply can lead to financial penalties and even imprisonment.
Perhaps the most important reason on the list.
By failing to meet your legal obligations to repair and maintain your property, particularly in emergencies, you could be putting your tenant at risk. The consequences of that could be fatal… and unbelievably expensive!
Creates bad relationship with tenant
There’s nothing worse than a sour tenant/landlord relationship, it makes everything infinitely more difficult.
One sure-fire way of creating tension between you and your tenant is by failing to maintain and repair. And believe me, a disgruntled tenant can do a lot more damage to your pocket than you could ever do to theirs.
Do you need anymore convincing? No? Good.
What is landlord Maintenance & Emergency Insurance?
While all Maintenance & Emergency insurance plans differ depending on provider and policy, they generally do the following:
- Provide a 24-hour helpline for your tenants to call in the case of a covered emergency (e.g. gas, electricity, water, leaks, security of doors and windows etc)
- Quick response time to assist with emergencies by qualified contractors
- Covers up to a certain amount of costs for each incident
- Most policies don’t charge for callout or labour, but may charge for parts if necessary
Bear in mind, these policies won’t cover general maintenance of your property- you’re not buying a handyman service e.g. someone won’t pop over to paint your withering frontdoor. These policies are for emergencies and breakdowns e.g. boiler repairs and pipe leaks! So it’s important to check what is covered before buying any policy!
How much does it cost?
Prices can vary depending on the level of service you require, but a ballpark figure is £10 per month. However, it really does vary and depend on the level of service you require. For example, a company called ‘24/7 Home Rescure‘ offer a package for £9.99 per month, which includes the following:
– Boiler Breakdown
– CP12 Certificate
– Carbon Monoxide Test
– Gas Safe Check
– 24 Hour Call Outs
– Unlimited Call Outs
– Unlimited Claims
– Nationwide Coverage
Do I need it? Who’s it for?
No, you definitely don’t “need” Maintenance & Emergency Insurance, in the sense that it’s not a legal requirement. However, many landlords do save money with a policy like this in the longrun, and beyond that, there is value in the stress it can spare.
If you’re a proud owner of a modern property with new/reliable products, it may not make sense. But if you’re frequently shelling out on maintenance fees, or want the reassurance of knowing you won’t have to go through the agonising pain of having to tracking down a local plumber/electrician to quickly resolve a problem (e.g. a burst pipe or broken boiler)… this could be the solution for you.
Ask yourself… how much do you value convenience? It’s also worth bearing in mind that if you don’t get use out of the policy, you don’t have to renew it.
Landlord Boiler Cover
From my personal experience, I can tell you the following about boilers…
- They’re freaking expensive to maintain and/or replace. Over the years I’ve thrown more money at boiler maintenance than I wish to remember. If I got the calculator out and did the math I’d probably projectile vomit all over my keyboard.
- They’re an absolute nightmare when they breakdown, because it usually means the tenant has no access to hot water or heat. A broken boiler is highly disruptive to every day living, and if landlords don’t act fast to resolve the issue, it usually results in bad relations with the tenant, and understandably so.
- A boiler is probably the last appliance I want to breakdown, particularly in the winter, because finding a reliable engineer during their peak season can be soul-destroying.
- Boilers frequently breakdown, especially older models. That said, the newer reputable combi boilers seem to be a lot more reliable, and most of them come with solid 5-7 years warranty.
What’s my point? Getting a Maintenance & Emergency Insurance policy which comes with boiler cover (most of them do) can be invaluable, and getting a policy for that purpose alone can be worthwhile. In fact, I know many landlords that purely get one for that purpose. Of course, whether it makes sense for you will depend on your circumstances. You can base your decision on a couple of thought processes…
- Do you have an old boiler which frequently breaks down, or inevitability seems like it’s about to? Replacing the boiler might be the safest and cheapest option (in the longrun), but depending on your circumstances, boiler cover might be a good option also.
- If you have a brand new boiler which comes with a decent manufacture warranty, you may not need to be overly fussed about boiler cover, but you may benefit from other aspects of a maintenance policy.
- If you want the peace of mind of knowing that you have emergency cover, whether it be for a old or new boiler, or whether you’re on holiday or at home, then a policy with boiler cover seems like the ideal solution. The reality is, one of the biggest selling points of emergency cover is the stress and hassle it can alleviate.
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£7Inc VATPer month
Code: CS10 – 10% off the following cover plans:
If you know of any other companies that aren’t currently listed (but should be), please contact me or leave a comment below.
Important notes to remember…
- Inform your insurer of any changes of circumstance – Insurers are notorious for finding ways to withhold from paying out when a claim is filed. If they can find a reason not to pay out, they will, so it’s in your best interest not to give them one.
If there’s ever a change in circumstance which your insurer should be aware of, inform them immediately so they can update your policy. Failing to do so could invalidate your policy and impede on your right to take advantage of your fabulous policy!
- Call-out limits – many policies cap the amount of call-outs you’re entitled to per year, so be aware of what your policy offers. If you anticipate large volumes of call-outs (based on historic events), you may want to opt for an unlimited call-out policy.
That said, a limit of 8 call-outs per year (for example) can still save you a butt-load.
- Parts/replacement coverage – be clear on what your policy covers, particularly when concerning part(s) replacements (e.g. new for old), as opposed to only covering the restoration of old/faulty parts.
- System modification – check to see if all your appliances are covered despite any modifications that may have been made since the systems were first installed, as this is often used as an excuse for insurance companies to void claims/policies. Getting written confirmation is advised.