If you own or rent a flat, it’s easy to bury your head in the sand when it comes to home insurance.
But if you’re an owner, it’s crucial that the building your flat is part of is covered if the worst were to happen and the whole structure was destroyed.
If you rent, you shouldn’t just assume that your landlord has insurance which covers the possessions you own in your flat.
Joint responsibility for flat owners
Home insurance consists of two parts, buildings and contents.
While it might be obvious that you would only want to pay to insure the possessions within your own flat, it’s perhaps less clear where responsibilities lie when it comes to the buildings element of home cover.
Who is responsible for the roof, for example? You might think that the flat right at the top of the building covers that part of the structure as it’s ‘their roof’. But you could be wrong.
Or if there is a basement flat, should the owners pay extra as they sit directly on top of the foundations of the property? Again, they wouldn’t be expected to in most cases.
All flat owners have an interest in the jointly owned parts of the building; damaged roofs can cause water to leak through a whole building and effect all flats in it, likewise if sewage and water pipes crack, it can cause issues for every occupant.
There are two main ways you can own a flat in the UK, either leasehold or freehold.
Insurance for flat leaseholders
If you own a leasehold flat, you, along with the other flat owners in your building, won’t necessarily be responsible for providing the buildings element of your home insurance. This is usually the duty of the freeholder.
The freeholder is legally bound to provide you with evidence of this (if you have a mortgage, your mortgage provider will insist on seeing this before giving you a mortgage).
The insurance may be arranged by a management company and you pay for it as part of the service charge. Or it might be directly arranged by the landlord. Check the policy carefully to ensure you’re happy with the terms (don’t just rely on your mortgage company to do this).
If you’re not happy with it, you can make a challenge through a Leasehold Valuation Tribunal.
Insurance for flat freeholders
Flat freeholders jointly own the freehold of the building their flat is in with the owners of the other flats in the building, and it’s your collective responsibility to sort out buildings insurance (although it’s not a legal requirement, you’d be a little crazy not to do so).
This can be somewhat difficult if there are a good number of flats, and it’s a good idea to form a committee, if one doesn’t exist already, and arrange a sink fund which all flat owners pay into monthly to cover not only insurance costs but also repairs and general maintenance.
Some buildings may have been converted into self-contained flats (so there are fewer, if any communal parts), and these might possibly need insuring separately.
Those who rent a flat might have no interest in finding out if their landlord has the buildings part of home insurance sorted, for obvious reasons, but they shouldn’t assume their landlord will have insurance which covers the possessions that they own within the flat.
It would certainly be unusual if they did, and most people who rent flats with have to provide it themselves.
Always ask your insurer
Your insurer will go through the type of flat you own, or rent, what the situation is with other flat owners in the building or your freeholder, and help you decide what cover you need.
Policy Expert is dedicated to helping customers find the insurance policy that’s right for them. Our team of experts with a real passion for making sure people get the cover that’s right for them. For more information on what‘s covered under your Home Insurance policy, speak to one of our experts on 0203 014 9300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org