Articles from the Silver Shemmings Ash Team on contractual matters, recent case law changes and items of interest in the construction and property world

Buildings Insurance & Residential Leasehold Properties

June 3, 2020 | Silver Shemmings

Landlords are usually responsible for the insurance of the building in blocks of flats or large mixed-use buildings and the cost of this insurance is usually recovered from the tenants as a service charge. The provisions relating to insurance are found in the lease itself.

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 provides tenants with certain rights to request information from the landlord in respect of the buildings insurance.

If you are a tenant, you will need to be make yourself familiar with the rights granted to you under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (“the Act”). If you are a landlord, you will need to ensure that you are complying with your obligations set out in the Act.

1. Right to request a written summary of the insurance

If a tenant is paying an amount directly or indirectly for insurance through their service charges, the tenant may by notice in writing require the landlord to supply him or her with a written summary of the insurance on risk for that period.

The notice can be served on a managing agent if they have a right to enforce payment of the service charge.

Within one month, the landlord must provide the tenant with a written summary which should include the amounts insured under the relevant policy, the name of the insurer and the risks insured.

A landlord will need to notify the tenant if a superior landlord is obligated to maintain the buildings insurance. The landlord must then request from the superior landlord the written summary which must be provided within a reasonable time.

2. Right to inspect payments of premiums

Tenants may be concerned that their landlord is not maintaining the buildings insurance properly. The Act entitles the tenant to provide a written notice to the landlord requesting that they make facilities available to the tenant for the inspection of any relevant policy or documents in relation to the buildings insurance. This can include receipts and accounts evidencing proof of payment of the premiums for the current period and the previous period.

If a superior landlord is responsible for maintaining the buildings insurance, the landlord must supply the tenant with the superior’s landlords contact information and the superior landlord must then provide the facilities for inspecting the relevant documents.

Failure to comply

If a landlord fails to comply with the Act without reasonable excuse, it is a summary offence which on conviction could lead to a fine (currently £2,500).

Other important matters to consider:

Right to notify insurers of a possible claim

Tenants may be concerned that a landlord may decide not to notify or delay notifying the insurer of a claim. Therefore, the Act allows the tenant to serve written notice on the insurer informing them of the possible claim.

Challenge the insurers

If a tenant is not happy with the insurer nominated by the landlord, the tenant can apply to the county court or the appropriate tribunal for determination as to whether the insurance is satisfactory or if the premiums are excessive. Please note that once the subject has been determined by the court or arbitral tribunal it is final.

Insurance of houses

The Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 introduced a new right for tenants who hold a long lease of a house. If the lease requires the tenant to insure the house with an insurer nominated or approved by the landlord, the tenant does not have to do so and may arrange for their own insurance provided that it meets the following criteria (1) the policy is issued by an authorized insurer to cover the interests of both the landlord and tenant and covers all the risks mentioned in the lease and (2) the tenant gives the landlord notice as per the prescribed form within 14 days of the cover being renewed.

If the landlord disposes of their interest in the lease

If the landlord disposes of their interest in the lease following the tenant’s request for a summary or for documents, the landlord is still obligated to provide these documents if they are in the position to do so. The new landlord will also be liable to provide the documents to the extent that they are able to do so.

The content on this page is provided for the purposes of general interest and information. It contains only brief summaries of aspects of the subject matter and does not provide comprehensive statements of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not provide a substitute for it.

Author Tringa Hashani has several years of experience in property law, acting for Housing Associations, Banks and Developers including acting for Housing Associations in large scale charging exercises, acquisitions & sales of large, mixed-use development sites, sales / purchases of residential & commercial properties, drafting head leases & sub leases for residential & commercial properties, rectification of unfavourable terms in leases, preliminary title investigation for portfolio advice, acting for various lenders in mortgaging & re-mortgaging transactions, reviewing tenancy agreements, rent deposit deeds & nomination agreements, reviewing & drafting S.106, S278, S104 Agreements & other planning / development Agreements, advising on title issues & rectification of errors found in title registers, dealing with the registration of unregistered land, including adverse possession registrations, creation of easements & extinguishment / release of easements

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