1.1 Insurance by the landlord
Usually, your lease will allow your landlord to arrange the insurance of the building (not the contents) and charge you the cost of this as a service charge. This is the normal arrangement for buildings that are divided into flats because it is important that there is one policy which covers all risks to the whole building. The cost of the insurance is normally included as part of the service charges, so it can be challenged at, or confirmed by, the tribunal in the usual way.
If a service charge consists of or includes an amount for insurance, you (or the secretary of a recognised tenants’ association, if this applies) can ask your landlord for a written summary of the policy or an opportunity to inspect and take copies of the policy.
Here is an example of a journalist at The Times who won his challenge on insurance costs:
The request must be made in writing and the landlord must provide the summary and allow you or the secretary to inspect and take copies of the policy within 21 days of receiving the request.
Download a template for requesting a written summary of insurance cover under section 30A and paragraph 2 of the Schedule to the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985:
If the request is for a written summary, the summary must show:
- the amount the property is insured for;
- the name of the insurer; and
- the risks covered by the policy.
You, or the secretary, can only ask the landlord to provide the summary once in each insurance period (usually a year).
If you (or the secretary of a recognised tenants’ association) ask to see the policy, the landlord must provide reasonable access for you to inspect the policy and any other relevant documents which provide evidence of insurance premiums paid (including receipts) and facilities for copying these. Or, you can ask the landlord to take copies of the policy or documents (or extracts from these) and send them to you or the recognised tenants’ association or arrange for them to be collected.
Download a template for requesting to inspect and take copies of insurance documents under section 30A and paragraph 3 of the Schedule to the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985:
Any costs related to providing facilities to inspect and copy insurance documents may be treated as a management cost and so can be recovered through service charges.
7.2 What happens if my landlord fails to provide insurance information or reasonable access to insurance documents?
If your landlord fails to provide copies of insurance documents or facilities for you or the secretary to inspect or copy insurance documents (depending on the request), and they do not have a reasonable excuse for this, they are committing a summary offence and are liable for a fine of up to £2,500 (level 4 on the standard scale) if they are convicted. You should get advice from a solicitor who specialises in this area of the law if you are considering action against your landlord in relation to this.
7.3 Insurance through the landlord’s nominated or approved insurer – houses
(Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002, section 164)
Some leases, usually those relating to houses, state that the leaseholder has to insure the property with an insurer nominated or approved by the landlord. However, under the above act the leaseholder of a house is entitled to arrange the insurance with their own choice of insurer, as long as they give the landlord notice and meet certain requirements relating to the cover arranged. Please note this only applies to leasehold houses, not flats.
If this applies, the insurance you arrange must:
- be with an ‘authorised insurer’, which means an insurer operating within the requirements of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000;
- cover the interests of both you and the landlord;
- provide cover of at least the amount shown in the lease; and
- cover all the risks the lease says must be covered.
As long as you meet these conditions, you do not have to arrange insurance through an insurer the landlord has nominated.
You can arrange your own insurance, but must serve a notice of cover on your landlord no later than 14 days after arranging the insurance a). The notice must be in the prescribed form (see below) and must state:
- the name of the insurer;
- the risks covered by the policy;
- the amount and period of the cover;
- the address of the house insured;
- the registered office of the authorised insurer;
- the reference number of the insurance policy;
- how often premiums are due;
- the amount of any excess on the policy (the first part of any claim that the policyholder has to pay) and what the excess applies to;
- whether the policy has been renewed (and the renewal date if so);
- a statement that you are satisfied that the policy covers your interests; and
- a statement that you have no reason to believe that the policy does not cover your landlord’s interests.
Prescribed form and contents of the notice of cover for England: LeaseholdHousesNoticeOfInsurance
Notice of cover form for Wales: leasheoldHousesNoticeOfInsuranceWales
1.4 Telling the insurance company about a possible claim
You can tell the insurance company about a possible claim. You should do this in writing, and should provide a brief description of the damage. (There is a link to a template for giving this notice below.) You need to do this within six months, or any longer period if the policy allows this. This right is meant to help you if your landlord is not making a claim, or is delaying putting in a claim, and you are concerned that the time limit for making the claim may run out. This right does not give you the right to make a claim under the policy or to force your landlord to do so.
Download a template for giving the insurer notice of a possible claim under section 30A and paragraph 7 of the Schedule to the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985: