Woaaah! Flood warnings are coming thick and fast in the UK at the moment, with thousands of homeowners 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 BTL properties that are impacted by flooding?
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 high 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.
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 or repair 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 after flood damage?
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.
Landlord Insurance with Flood Cover
Flood insurance is some times included with buildings insurance, so if it’s something you specifically want covered, you should check your existing policy.
In other cases, where it doesn’t come as standard, you may need to pay extra for flood damage coverage. Of course, the cost for coverage is nothing compared to the repair costs that can escalate after a good flooding.
From what I’ve heard, an increasing amount of landlords are starting to stretch their policies to cover flood damage, just so they have one less thing to worry about.
Ultimately, landlords that aren’t covered against flooding have left themselves open to serious financial debt after a natural disaster, particularly those with BTLs in areas that are prone to suffer flooding.
An increasing amount of insurance brokers are now starting to offer and supply landlord insurance polices which include flood cover, which is great news! I can’t give you any personal recommendations of any specific insurers, but I can point you in the direction of this free landlord insurance quote form – if you complete it, an insurance broker will be in touch to go over your requirements. Make sure you specifically specify that you require flood coverage for your rental property!
What does flood insurance cover?
Typically, flood insurance covers the following:
- removing debris
- professional fees (e.g solicitors, architects and surveyors)
- repair or replacement of damaged furniture and belongings
- alternative accommodation during renovation (assuming the property is inhabitable)
- drying out, repairing and restoring your property and its fixtures and fittings.
Making an insurance claim after suffering flood damage
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.
Understandably, tenants may apply pressure to have damages repaired/replaced quickly, but it is important that the insurance company gets to assess the damage first, 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, 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 the contents they provide (e.g. white goods).
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!
Disclaimer: I'm just a simple landlord blogger; I'm not qualified to give legal or financial advice. Any information I share is my opinion based on my personal experiences as an active landlord, and should never be contrued as legal or professional advice. For more information, please read my full disclaimer.