Last updated: 21/09/2023 | Estimated Reading Time: 8 minutes
Owning a leasehold property can make taking out buildings insurance a complicated task, especially if you aren’t sure who’s responsible for making the payments. However, failing to take out the right type of insurance can leave you in a difficult position, as you might end up having to pay large amounts of money for repairs to the structure of your home.
In this guide, we’ll help you to gain a better understanding of how buildings insurance works for leasehold properties. You’ll be able to go ahead and find out who needs to pay for your buildings insurance and whether you need to take out a policy yourself, allowing you to make the right decision for your unique situation.
In This Guide:
- Who Pays Building Insurance on a Leasehold Property?
- What Does Buildings Insurance Cover?
- Do I Need Building Insurance for a Leasehold Flat?
- Who Covers Building Insurance for a Leasehold House?
- Do I Have to Pay a Demand for a Share of the Buildings Insurance?
- Am I Being Charged Too Much for Buildings Insurance by the Freeholder?
- Are There Other Charges I Will Need to Pay as a Leaseholder?
- Do I Need to Take Out Other Types of Insurance on my Leasehold Flat?
- How Much Leasehold Buildings Insurance Should I Buy?
- Get a Quote for Leasehold Buildings Insurance
Who Pays Building Insurance on a Leasehold Property?
In many circumstances, the freeholder of your property will be responsible for taking out buildings insurance. Residents of the property will usually all pay a share of this insurance, which may be included as part of a regular service charge.
However, assuming that the property freeholder has taken out buildings insurance is risky, so it’s important to check all the documents relating to your lease before or soon after you move in. It can be a good idea to ask a solicitor to find this information for you, especially if you’re confused by the terms of your lease.
If your freeholder hasn’t taken out buildings insurance, or it isn’t clear whether they have or not, you can contact them to ask. You should be able to find out your freeholder’s contact details in the paperwork from when you bought your home. However, the freeholder isn’t always obligated to take out buildings insurance, in which case you’ll have to take out a policy yourself.
What Does Buildings Insurance Cover?
Buildings insurance covers costs incurred by repairing or rebuilding your property after structural damage has occurred. Incidents that may require you to claim on your buildings insurance policy include:
- Serious internal leaks or floods in your surrounding area
- Bad storms or falling trees
- Fire or explosions
- Vandalism and vehicle collisions
Most leasehold building insurance will cover the communal areas of your building as well as the part you own. This means you won’t need to worry about paying to repair shared hallways or storage rooms should they become damaged in unforeseen circumstances.
However, it’s worth noting that buildings insurance won’t cover:
Make sure you familiarise yourself with your building insurance policy so that you understand exactly what is covered and are aware of any exclusions. Knowing how your policy protects you will also help you to avoid accidentally invalidating your policy.
Do I Need Building Insurance for a Leasehold Flat?
Legally, you don’t have to have buildings insurance for flats with leasehold contracts, but the majority of them will have their building insurance covered by the freeholder. If your mortgage provider requires you to have leasehold flat insurance before being accepted, pass along any documents you have that confirm the details of the policy the freeholder has taken out. If the freeholder doesn’t have buildings insurance for your flat, you may have to take it out yourself.
If you decide to take out building insurance for your leasehold flat, you will be responsible for the whole building, not just the part you own. The best way to manage this is to group together with other residents and each pay a share of the monthly premiums. Before you take out a policy, check with other residents to see what kind of buildings insurance they’d prefer, how much they’re looking to pay and whether anyone already has an active policy.
Who Covers Building Insurance for a Leasehold House?
Leasehold houses are much less common than leasehold flats, but if you do own one, you are likely to be responsible for covering the building insurance. However, taking out a policy is much simpler as you won’t have to consider any other residents. This means finding home insurance will be a very similar process to the one freehold homeowners go through.
Do I Have to Pay a Demand for a Share of the Buildings Insurance?
If you’ve received a demand to pay a share of your buildings insurance, you may be legally obligated to pay. However, before agreeing, check your leasehold documents to see if you are stated as being partially responsible for payments. If you are listed as being responsible, then refusing to pay may result in a breach of contract. If you can’t find a section for buildings insurance in your contract, check to see whether it’s included as part of the service charges. In this case, you will also be required to pay the demand.
Am I Being Charged Too Much for Buildings Insurance by the Freeholder?
Even if you are legally required to pay a share of the buildings insurance, this amount must be reasonable. If the charge you receive seems high, you can write to the freeholder and request that they evidence their demand by providing you with the building insurance policy documents. These documents will need to clearly state how much the policy costs, what’s covered in its terms, and the name of the insurer. The freeholder should respond within 21 days after you send your request, otherwise, they could be fined.
If the documents you receive prove that you’re not being overcharged for your buildings insurance, you have the option of negotiating with the freeholder or building management company. While they’re under no obligation to meet all your demands, they should be open to hearing your concerns and may even be happy to find a new, cheaper policy if that would serve the needs of the building’s residents better. Your argument will be made stronger if other residents agree with you, so it could be worth getting the opinions of others and creating a plan of action.
The freeholder or building management company should justify their decision to keep the policy the same if they refuse to change it. However, if their justification isn’t satisfactory or they seem particularly resistant to any negotiations, you do have the option of taking them to a housing tribunal. Here you can present your case, illustrating why the policy isn’t working for the building’s residents and voicing the alternatives that could be considered. An independent judge will make a final ruling and decide the outcome of your dispute.
Are There Other Charges I Will Need to Pay as a Leaseholder?
Most leaseholders will have to pay a service charge, which can encompass a wide range of services such as the cleaning of communal areas, routine maintenance to the building, or concierge. Buildings with more features and services will typically incur a higher service charge, but you should always receive a breakdown of all the costs.
A breakdown or receipt will help you to better understand why the service charge costs what it does and allows you to question charges that don’t seem fair. For example, a monthly cleaning charge could be brought into question if the communal hallways are always dirty.
In addition to service charges, some leaseholders may also have to contribute towards a sinking fund. This fund is then used by the freeholder to cover larger repairs or renovations, such as fitting new windows or replacing a security system.
You may also have to pay ground rent on your leasehold property, but this charge should be included in the terms and conditions of your lease. If you are yet to move into a leasehold property and ground rent is listed as a charge, you should familiarise yourself with the Leasehold Reform Act 2022. While this doesn’t affect existing leases, it makes charging ground rent for new residential leases that are longer than 21 years illegal (applying to England and Wales).
Do I Need to Take Out Other Types of Insurance on my Leasehold Flat?
You aren’t required to take out other types of insurance on a leasehold flat, but it can be a good idea to buy contents insurance. This will cover the cost of repairing or replacing your belongings should they be stolen or damaged. It’s usually cheaper to buy both buildings and contents insurance together in one policy, but this can be difficult if your buildings insurance is already taken care of by the freeholder.
How Much Leasehold Buildings Insurance Should I Buy?
The amount of buildings insurance you need depends on the rebuild cost of your property. Remember, when you’re calculating this amount you need to take the entire building into consideration, not just your flat. This will ensure that the whole building can be rebuilt or restored in the event of a large-scale disaster, such as a fire.
Get a Quote for Leasehold Buildings Insurance
If you’ve decided that taking out a leasehold buildings insurance policy is right for your situation, you can get started on your journey today. Get a quote for buildings insurance, learn more about home insurance in general, or check out more of our guides.