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Information written by Holly Bennett Last updated on 28 April 2022.

What is landlord insurance?

Landlord insurance is a type of home insurance for a property you own and rent out to tenants.

This type of protection helps cover the cost if your property and belongings in the rental are damaged after a covered event, such as a fire or a storm. You also usually get a level of public liability cover for compensation costs if tenants or visitors are injured on your property and you are found liable.

What sets it apart from standard home insurance is features geared towards potential issues with a property you let. These include protection if tenants don’t pay the rent, and cover for accidental or malicious damage.

Some features are add-ons that you pay extra for, while others are included as standard. As policies vary, make sure you’re clear on what you’ll be covered for before you buy.

Types of landlord insurance

Landlord insurance is made up of buildings and contents insurance, as well as liability cover and other add-ons.

Buildings insurance covers the bricks and mortar and permanent fixtures and fittings. It can also include driveways, gates and other permanent structures within the boundary of your property. The cover amount should be what it would cost to rebuild the property from scratch, which isn’t the same as the market value.

Contents insurance is for your belongings in the rental property, such as kitchenware, electricals and furniture, carpets, rugs and curtains. The cover amount should be enough to replace all your belongings there.

It also usually also includes public liability insurance, which covers you if tenants or other third parties are injured while on your property and makes a claim for damages.

There is usually a maximum amount you can make a claim for, which the insurer should set out in the policy documents. This can vary depending on the type of damage or loss.

If you’re letting more than one property, it’s possible to insure them all on one policy. You will usually be asked about the type of tenants you are letting it out to. For example, whether it’s a working person, student or a house in multiple occupation, where three or more people who are not from the same household live in the property.

Landlord insurance add-ons

You can add extras to your policy if they are not already included in the standard cover. These include cover for:

  • accidental or intentional damage caused by tenants
  • loss of rent if nobody can live there because the property is uninhabitable
  • loss of earnings if tenants don’t pay rent that’s due
  • call-out fees for fixing urgent issues, such as a boiler breakdown or pest infestation
  • employer’s liability insurance, if you employ someone to work on your property, such as a cleaner or gardener (excluding contractors employed by someone else or self-employed workers)
  • lost keys and broken locks
  • legal costs for dealing with issues such as a breach of tenancy

Adding these extras will increase your premium, but you may feel they are worthwhile.

What does landlord insurance cover?

It’s important to know that insurance isn’t for any event that causes damage. For example, it’s not for wear and tear over time, and you won’t usually be covered for accidental damage caused by your tenants without adding that cover to a standard policy.

What landlord insurance usually covers

You will usually be covered for damage after these unexpected events as standard on a landlord insurance policy:

  • flooding
  • escape of water
  • storms and earthquakes
  • subsidence
  • fire
  • theft
  • malicious damage

The excess you agree to pay towards the cost of a valid claim may vary, depending on the cause of the damage. For example, the excess you pay for damage from subsidence will be more than the excess for damage caused by a fire, with most insurers expecting you to pay the first £1,000 towards a subsidence claim

You will also likely have as standard a level of public liability cover, which helps protect you from the cost of claims if someone is injured in your property. The cost of accommodation for your tenants if their home becomes unsafe to live in, up to a maximum amount, will also usually be included.

What landlord insurance doesn’t usually cover

You won’t usually be able to make a claim on a standard landlord insurance policy for the following issues:

  • Damage as a result of botched repairs or neglecting to fix an issue, such as blocked gutters. Insurers expect you to keep your part of the deal and maintain your property to a decent level.
  • Wear and tear or gradual damage, or items that are at the end of their useful life. Insurance is for unexpected and sudden events, not damage over time.
  • Accidental damage, for example if your tenants or their guests knock something over or make a dent in the wall by mistake, unless you have this as an add-on.
  • Damage caused by a tenant’s pets. Not even accidental damage cover is likely to include this, though pet damage cover may be available for some policies.
  • Damage after pest infestations, which is usually only included if you have home emergency cover.
  • Damage to anything that belongs to your tenants. They will need their own renters contents insurance to cover their own possessions.

Landlord insurance can cover you for limited periods when the rental property has nobody living in it, such as when you’re between tenants. It’s usually a longer period of time than standard home insurance, typically between 45 and 90 days. But always check how many days in a row your policy allows. If you leave it empty for longer than that and don’t let your insurer know, it could invalidate your cover.

If your property will be vacant beyond the maximum days specified, you may need unoccupied home insurance for that period.

» COMPARE: Specialist home insurance

Do you need landlord insurance?

There is no law stating you must have buildings or contents insurance for a rental property, though it’s sensible to get that protection.

If you do take out cover, it needs to be valid for what you’re using the property for. Standard home insurance doesn’t tend to provide cover for a rental property you don’t live in, and the additional risks that come with being a landlord.

You don’t necessarily have to have both buildings and contents insurance for your rental. If the property is unfurnished and you have no belongings in it, you may just want buildings insurance for the structure, fixtures and fittings. But given that freestanding white goods such as fridges and carpets and curtains in the property count as contents, you may want cover to protect you from the cost of replacing them.

If you own your property leasehold – in a block of flats, for example – it is likely that your property may have buildings insurance arranged by the freeholder and paid for through your service charges.

Also bear in mind that If you have a mortgage for the rental, your mortgage lender will generally insist that you have buy-to-let buildings insurance.

If you rent out commercial property, such as shops and offices, you’ll need commercial property cover.

How much is landlord insurance in the UK?

The most accurate way to find this out is by getting a quote based on your circumstances.

That’s because insurers take a lot of things into account before calculating a premium. These include the property’s postcode, the rebuild cost, your claims history and the number and type of tenants you’re renting it out to.

Your premium also depends on the level of cover you choose. Whether you have both buildings and contents cover, the amount of cover you need for both, along with any extras you’ve added to your policy, will also affect the cost.

How much should you budget for landlord insurance?

Landlord insurance may cost more to insure than a property you live in due to the extra risks that come with a rental. So you may pay more than you pay for your own home insurance policy.

Having said that, this may not be the case for a landlord who, say, only needs minimal contents cover for their leasehold flat rental, while their main residence is a listed building with high-value belongings.

As well as your individual situation, and a few wider factors such Insurance Premium Tax and the cost of repairs, your premiums can depend on:

  • how you choose to pay (annually or by instalments)
  • your claims history
  • how many properties the policy covers
  • the type of tenants you rent to
  • the amount of cover you choose
  • any voluntary excess you agree to pay

The easiest way to find out the likely cost that takes your specific circumstances and cover needs into account is to get a quote.

How to find the best deal for landlord insurance

You don’t have to take the first price you see, or the quote your current insurer offers you at renewal if you already have a policy. To get competitive landlord insurance quotes, you’ll want to compare a number of policies and prices for the cover you need.

You can get quotes from a number of insurers using Quotezone’s comparison tool. Just fill in a few details and it will search the market across a number of lenders. You can then choose from deals matched to you. You can also approach insurers directly or use a broker.

Landlord Insurance FAQs

How do I get cheap landlord insurance quotes?

While the premium you pay is based on many factors, you may be offered lower premiums if:

  • You’ve made few or no recent claims on a landlord insurance policy.
  • You agree to pay a higher voluntary excess.
  • You take out a combined buildings and contents insurance policy, rather than two separate policies.
  • You only choose the add-ons you need and don’t get a higher level of cover than necessary.
  • You have good security in place at the property, such as an intruder alarm.

Cheap landlord insurance isn’t always the best insurance, though. The cover needs to be right for you, or it isn’t doing its job. You also don’t want to risk being underinsured or choosing a low excess when you can’t afford a smaller payout.

By shopping around for quotes, you can compare competitive prices for the cover you need.

Who pays building insurance: landlord or tenant?

The landlord is responsible for taking out buildings insurance on a rental. The landlord pays the premiums, not the tenant.

If you’re a landlord and it’s a leasehold property, the responsibility for taking out cover for the building is with the freeholder, though check that they have cover and read what is and isn’t included. If it’s a block of flats, you may need buildings insurance for your flat’s permanent fixtures and fittings, such as built-in kitchens, if the main freeholder insurance policy doesn’t include these.

Is landlord insurance compulsory?

No, landlord insurance isn’t compulsory, and there is no law to say you have to have it. But it’s a good idea because without this cover in place, you would be faced with the cost of repairs and replacements if the worst happened.

Without liability cover, you could also face compensation costs from claims made against you if visitors or tenants are injured in the property. It also helps you maintain your responsibilities towards your tenants, as it can cover the cost of temporary accommodation or repairs in an emergency.

A few things to be aware of, though:

  • If you have a mortgage on your buy to let, it’s likely you will need to take out landlord buildings insurance as a condition of your mortgage agreement.
  • If you have a standard mortgage, you must tell your lender before you let out your home, or it could be seen as mortgage fraud.
  • If you have standard home insurance on a rental you don’t live in, rather than landlord insurance, your policy won’t usually be valid. This means if you make a claim, your insurer may not pay out.

Can a landlord charge VAT on insurance?

You don’t pay VAT on insurance premiums for residential landlord cover. If you’re adding the cost of insurance to your tenant’s rent, you shouldn’t add VAT. Insurance Premium Tax is included in your premium, though.

If the property is a holiday let or a commercial property, or you’re a VAT-registered business, it can be more complicated. Talk to a tax adviser if you’re not sure what you should be paying.

Is landlord insurance tax deductible?

Yes. Insurance on a rental property that is only used for that purpose is an allowable expense, so you can claim it back.

Tax relief may also apply when you replace items after wear and tear in a part- or fully-furnished property. So while you can’t make a claim for damage over time on your insurance policy, you may be able to deduct the cost of replacing certain domestic items, such as beds and fridges, from your rental income. You can find out more about tax relief for landlords on the government website.

Is landlord insurance the same as building insurance?

Landlord insurance is an umbrella term for cover that can include buildings insurance, contents insurance and liability cover. Buildings insurance on a rental property is just one type of landlord insurance.

What does landlord contents insurance cover?

It’s cover for any of your belongings that are in the rental property. So if you’re renting out a property part-furnished or fully-furnished, that might mean wardrobes, tables, white goods, sofas and beds that belong to you. It also includes curtains and carpets. Standard cover would pay out, up to a maximum amount, if they are damaged, destroyed or stolen.

More comprehensive cover can include if tenants cause damage to your home or belongings by accident or intentionally. General wear and tear and when belongings come to the end of their useful life aren’t covered by home insurance.

Do I need contents insurance as a landlord?

Like buildings insurance, there is no law that says you must have contents insurance. But even if your property is unfurnished, you may want to protect your carpets, curtains and white goods with cover. You may also find some extras, such as home emergency cover and accidental damage cover useful.

Your contents insurance won’t cover your tenants’ belongings, though. They will need to take out their own renters insurance to protect their own things.

Why are landlord policies more expensive?

Insurance premiums are based on risk, or how likely something is to happen. Insurers see rentals as more risky, as it’s thought that people are more likely to look after and maintain a property they live in than one they rent.

There are also optional extras that a landlord policy can offer you that a standard policy can’t. These include malicious damage by tenants and loss of rent.

There are ways to help reduce your premiums, such as installing secure locks on doors and windows, though some policies will insist that you have a certain standard of security before they agree to cover you.

What optional add-on features should I consider?

It depends on what’s important to you, what would bring you peace of mind and what you can afford. That may mean rent guarantee insurance to cover the cost of unpaid rent, emergency call-out cover, accidental damage cover, or legal expenses if you have problems with your tenants and need to take them to court.

Before you pay for extras, check what’s already included in the standard policy so you don’t get more cover than you need.

About the author:

Holly champions clear, jargon-free writing. She’s been creating finance content for leading organisations for over 10 years. Read more