Unoccupied homes cover FAQ

Landlords leaving buy to let homes empty for 30 days or more often have a problem with finding insurance cover.

Most building insurance policies have a clause stating homes left empty for 30 days in a row are not covered – which means the firm will not pay out if a claim is made.

Specialist unoccupied or empty homes insurance fills the gap for property investors leaving homes empty during tenancy voids, refurbishments or light use, like a second or holiday home.

What does empty homes insurance cover?

Unoccupied property insurance covers against break-ins, theft and vandalism, but has some points to watch out for:

  • Other insurance options might apply during building work as most policies will not cover homes that are building sites or boarded up due to the security risk
  •  Doors should have five lever mortise locks and window locks
  • Damage by trades people is excluded as they should have their own liability insurance
  • Water and heating systems need draining down – especially over winter – or most policies will not accept a claim

Student landlords should watch out  for the empty home trap on insurance during the summer when students are away for eight weeks or more.

How long does unoccupied home insurance last?

Some empty home insurers offer short-term policies that cover letting voids rather than as an annual policy, while some insurers offer the cover as an add-on.

Landlords should check out their buildings insurance when a property is empty to make sure they are protected.

Don’t letting agents check empty homes?

Letting agents are not responsible for security of empty properties, even if they are marketing for tenants.

Empty home check options

An alternative to empty home insurance is an empty property visit from ARPM Inventories.

“Property security rests with the owner and not the letting agent marketing the property while unoccupied,” said Kate Maddison of ARPM.

“Some insurers say the property must be checked every 14 days, while 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 that lettings agents visiting the property to conduct ‘viewings’ is enough to prove that the property has been checked.”

The checks cost from £30 plus VAT a visit.

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