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How to deal with emergencies at your rental property

Posted 23/05/2022 by Your Move
Categories: Landlords
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When there’s an emergency at a rental property, it’s got to be responded to quickly and dealt with effectively, so the impact on both your tenants and the property is kept to a minimum.

  1. Flooding

    Flooding in your property can be caused rainwater getting in from the outside – e.g. if there’s deep floodwater in the area or if the roof has been seriously damaged. However, what’s much more common is an internal leak or water escape. That could be:

    a. Water in pipes freezing in the winter. As it freezes, it expands, which can cause the pipes to crack, then when the ice thaws, the water escapes

    b. The joints in old pipework could fail

    c. One of your tenants might simply have let a bath seriously overflow

    Whatever the cause, the tenants should:

    1. Turn off the water supply via the stopcock 

    2. Call the relevant emergency number - you, your agent or an emergency contractor
  2. Lost keys

    When a tenant loses their keys, they’re responsible for the subsequent costs – this should be detailed in the tenancy agreement.

    If they need to get into the property right away, you or your agent might be able to let them in, but if it’s outside office hours, they may need to call a locksmith and that would be at their own expense. If you’ve taken out insurance cover for lost keys and replacement locks, there should be a 24/7 response line, so make sure the tenant knows who they should call.

    Although the tenant might think that it’s just one key that needs to be replaced, the reality is that lost keys can pose a security risk to the property and could affect your landlord insurance. If a tenant is renting a property from Your Move then the tenants are liable to the actual cost of replacing any lost key(s) or other security device(s). If the loss results in locks needing to be changed, the actual costs of a locksmith, new lock and replacement keys for the tenant, landlord any other persons requiring keys will be charged to the tenant. 

  3. Fire damage and a property that is no longer habitable

    Make sure sure your tenants know that in the event of a fire - no matter how small – they should:

    1. Call the fire brigade immediately, and then

    2. Inform you or their agent

If there’s any damage that you might want to make an insurance claim for, contact your insurer as soon as possible.

Fire is one of the main emergencies that will make a property uninhabitable and even smoke damage can be a health risk for your tenants, so they should be moved out. But who’s responsible for the costs?

If your tenants caused the fire: You should be able to charge them for the cost of repairs. And although you might feel a moral duty to make sure they have a roof over their heads, you’re not legally obliged to do so. However, if it’s an insurable event and your landlord insurance includes alternative accommodation costs, speak to your insurer about what to do next.

If the fire was due to negligence on your part as the landlord: You will be responsible for repair costs and your insurance may not be valid – contact them immediately to find out. You could also have to pay for damage to your tenants’ property, any related loss of earnings, etc., and you may be responsible for securing temporary or alternative accommodation for them.

If the fire is ruled an accident: You and your tenants are simply responsible for paying for your own repairs and replacement of property.

Two important steps to take now:

  1. Make sure your tenants have 24/7 contact numbers for emergencies.
    That might be a contractor, property management service or you yourself. Have a list clearly displayed in the property and advise the tenants to save the numbers to their phones for quick access. And emphasise the importance of reporting any major issues right away.
  2. Make sure you have a comprehensive landlord insurance policy in place.
    A fairly standard landlord policy will include buildings insurance and should cover you for accidental or malicious damage by tenants. Some policies will also include alternative accommodation costs and then you can take additional cover for things like replacement locks. Speak to your provider directly so you can make sure you’re properly protected.

    And if you’d like to discuss emergency cover or get a quote from Your Move Insurance Services, you can request a callback via our website.

If we already manage your rental property, we’ll handle everything relating to your tenant and property if there’s an emergency. If you have used Your Move Insurance Services for any of your landlord insurance policies they will be able to to help you with your initial insurance claim. But if you currently self-manage and you’d like to discuss the benefits of our Fully Managed service, just get in touch with your local branch.

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