FAQs: Landlords, dealing with emergencies

What is a Landlord’s Responsibility by Law?

If a landlord fails to meet their legal repairing responsibilities, or the property is in disrepair or unfit for human habitation, it is possible for tenants to take legal action against the landlord for breach of contract. A court can order a landlord to carry out the work and/or the tenant may be awarded damages against the landlord. In some cases, a tenant may be able to carry out the repair themselves and deduct the cost from the rent.

Local authorities may also become involved when a property is in a state of disrepair. They may carry out an inspection using the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) to identify relevant risks and hazards and may take action under the Housing Act 2004 and other legislation.

Local authorities can issue guidance to landlords by means of a hazard awareness notice or instruct landlords to carry out necessary repairs by means of an improvement notice. They can carry out repairs themselves in some cases. Local authorities can also issue a prohibition notice which prevents the property from being lived in or restricts the number of people allowed to live there. Local authorities can also prosecute landlords who fail to comply with their repairing responsibilities.

What about landlord insurance?

Ocean would recommend landlords take out a fully comprehensive landlord insurance policy. Whilst landlords feel the tenant’s deposit provides security and covers expenditure, it should be remembered that there are a large number of faults and issues that may occur during the course of a tenancy that could easily exceed the value of the deposit. So, to safeguard against being left out of pocket, it’s important to have a comprehensive insurance policy in place to protect against many of the eventualities.

How does landlord insurance compare against standard home insurance?

It is possible a regular home insurance policy could cover you as the homeowner - check the tenancy clauses, but it may not cover more complex damages or scenarios, such as your tenants needing temporary accommodation in the event of serious property damage.

What will landlord policies include?

  • Liability cover – in case a tenant becomes injured whilst living at your property and attempts to sue you
  • Alternative accommodation cover – if your property becomes seriously damaged, many landlord policies will pay for tenants to find temporary accommodation
  • Standard home insurance aspects – including buildings insurance, cable, underground pipe cover and cover against subsidence, etc.
  • Cover for unoccupied properties – many policies will cover your property whilst it’s left unoccupied, such as during void periods.


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