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Buildings insurance for flats: what you need to know

If you live in a flat or you’re in the process of buying one, you might be unsure who’s responsible for taking out buildings insurance. It can depend on whether you’re the leaseholder or freeholder.

Read our guide to understand more about buildings insurance for flats.

If you live in a flat or you’re in the process of buying one, you might be unsure who’s responsible for taking out buildings insurance. It can depend on whether you’re the leaseholder or freeholder.

Read our guide to understand more about buildings insurance for flats.

Written by
Anna McEntee
Home, pet and travel insurance expert
Reviewed by
Rachel Lacey
Insurance and money expert
Last Updated
12 JULY 2024
5 min read
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What does buildings insurance cover in flats?

Whether it’s for a flat or a house, buildings insurance covers the cost of repairing your home if it’s damaged by an incident such as a fire, flood or storm. It covers the structure of your home, including floors and walls, as well as any permanent fixtures and fittings, including fitted kitchens and bathrooms.

Buildings insurance can also cover damage caused by water leaks and subsidence. And crucially, it could cover the full cost of rebuilding your home if the worst happens, giving you the peace of mind that your property is protected.

Do you need buildings insurance on a flat?

Buildings insurance isn’t a legal requirement for your flat, but most mortgage providers will want you to have it in place before they lend you any money.

If you own the freehold for your flat or a share of the freehold, it’s your responsibility to get buildings insurance. But if you’re a leasehold flat owner, where you own the property for an agreed length of time, you won't usually need to worry about arranging buildings insurance. In most cases your freeholder will take care of buildings cover for the whole block of flats, and you’ll pay your share of the premium through a service charge. Be sure to check your lease agreement though, so you’re absolutely clear on where the responsibility lies.

Check out our helpful guide to the differences between leasehold and freehold.

I rent my flat – do I need buildings insurance cover?

If you're renting a flat, it's your landlord's responsibility to pay for buildings insurance, as they should be looking after the structure of the property. Find out more about buildings insurance if you rent. But don't forget to take out contents insurance to protect your belongings.

I’m a landlord and own several flats – what kind of buildings insurance policy do I need?

As a landlord, you'll want to make sure you have the right protection for your property and tenants (typical home insurance may not be appropriate to cover a rented property if you're not living there). Landlord insurance is designed to cover rental properties and can combine a number of insurance options, from building and contents insurance to rent protection.

What should I look out for when buying buildings insurance for flats?

If you need to arrange buildings insurance for your flat, check your policy carefully to make sure you understand how it covers:

  • Communal areas and gardens
  • Car parks
  • Public liability claims if someone visiting the property is injured
  • Flats that are left unoccupied for more than 30 days
  • Home refurbishments by flat owners.

These can often be contentious issues, so it’s important to know what’s what in case of disputes. If you have any concerns about who’s responsible for insuring the building’s structure, it might be worth seeking professional legal advice.

What doesn’t buildings insurance cover?

It’s a good idea to look at the things that aren't covered under your buildings insurance policy – usually known as exclusions. Wear and tear, any damage that happens gradually over a prolonged period of time, faulty or poor workmanship and storm damage to fences, hedges and gates aren't typically covered.

Buildings insurance also won't protect your possessions or anything that isn’t a permanent fixture or fitting inside your flat. For that you need home contents insurance.

Does buildings insurance cover water leaks in flats?

A water leak in a block of flats isn’t always a straightforward issue to sort out. That’s because the damage caused might be covered by several different policies within the same building. You’ll need to establish the cause of the leak and who’s responsible for repairing the problem under the terms of the lease agreement. The main pipes will usually be the responsibility of the freeholder. But if repairs are needed to pipework inside an individual flat, the onus may be on the leaseholder to deal with the issue, although this will depend on the original source of the leak.

If your belongings are damaged by a leak, you should be able to claim on your home contents insurance for this.

How much should I insure my flat for?

Your policy should reflect how much your flat would cost to rebuild – not the price you paid for it, or how much it's worth now. And don't forget to review your cover from time to time as rebuild costs tend to rise.

Discover how to calculate the rebuild cost of your home.

Compare buildings insurance for flats

Comparing building insurance quotes for flats is simple when you use our comparison service. We’ll search for the right cover for you, at the right price, showing you policies that cater for flats like yours.

You could achieve a quote of less than £226 a year for your buildings home insurance[1].

[1] 51% of our customers were quoted less than £225.12 for their buildings and contents home insurance in June 2024.

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