Student shared houses are left standing empty at some time in the year for a number of reasons like tenants away out of term time and refurbishments.
Standard landlord insurance often demands a property is not left vacant for more than 30 days in a row.
This can be a problem if students leave in the summer and do not return until the end of September.
Insurers are concerned that empty homes are easy prey for burglars and vandals – and also worry that leaking pipes or shoddy electrics can lead to costly damage because no one was around to notice the problem.
Landlords often mistakenly believe their letting agents are responsible for checking homes that are empty – but this is rarely part of any management agreement.
Unoccupied or empty home insurance is the solution – a specialist insurance policy that bridges the gaps when standard cover does not apply because of no one living at the property.
Cover is not necessarily an annual policy – the term is variable, so can match term time or a period when builders are at the property.
Some landlord insurers include the cover as an add-on to their policies, while others offer no empty home cover, so landlords should check the small print of their policy.
Plenty of specialist companies and brokers offer the cover online.
Like general house insurance, increasing security and the voluntary excess reduces the costs.
The alternative is an empty property visit by an inventory clerk who belongs to ARPM Inventories.
“Security of the property rests with the owner and not with the Letting Agent marketing the property whilst it is unoccupied. Landlords should be advised that they would be best placed to check with their insurance provider as the requirements of their policy for the property whilst it is unoccupied,” said Kate Maddison of ARPM.
“For instance, some insurers say it must be checked every 14 days and others say it must be checked every 30 days. The Landlord should also clarify with the insurer as to what ‘evidence’ they require to confirm that a check has been undertaken as the majority are unlikely to accept the fact that Lettings Negotiators visiting the property to conduct ‘viewings’ as sufficient enough proof that the property has been checked.”
The checks provide proof to insurers that someone has paid a call on the property – with costs starting from £30 plus VAT a visit.