What is tenants’ liability insurance?
Tenants’ liability insurance is specifically designed for renters. It offers tenants protection against some of the most common situations that might lead to them losing their security deposit – namely, accidental damage to a landlord’s fixtures, fittings or furniture. This includes items like the bath, toilet and white goods, which could prove very expensive to repair or replace.
It’s worth noting, however, that tenants’ liability cover won’t pay out for general wear and tear. It also won’t cover any damage that was caused maliciously.
How does tenants’ liability insurance work?
As a tenant, it’s your responsibility to keep your rented home in good condition. So if you cause any damage to the building itself or to any property belonging to your landlord, you’ll have to pay for it. If not, the cost could be deducted from your deposit at the end of your tenancy.
Tenants’ liability insurance can help cover the costs of any accidental damage to your landlord’s property and belongings that you’re liable for as part of your tenancy agreement. For example, things like:
- Fixtures and fittings
- White goods and appliances
- Carpets and soft furnishings
Let’s say you put a heavy dish in the fridge and break the shelves. Tenants’ liability insurance could help cover the costs of replacing them. Crucially, it can help cover the costs of any damage as it happens, protecting you from possible deposit deductions or disputes at the end of your tenancy.
You can take out tenants’ liability insurance at any time; whether it’s at the start of your tenancy or after you’ve been renting for a while.
Typically, tenants liability insurance is covered under your home contents insurance. But you should read your provider’s policy carefully and check the Ts&Cs, to be sure.
Is tenants’ liability a legal requirement?
Tenants’ liability insurance isn’t required by law in the UK. However, there are many landlords who will insist on you having tenants’ liability cover when you sign a rental agreement, especially if they’re leasing a furnished home. They’re entitled to set this requirement, so if you’re not keen on taking out a tenants’ liability insurance policy, you might have to start looking elsewhere.
Do I need tenants’ liability insurance?
If you have rental contents insurance, check the policy terms and conditions. Some insurance providers include tenants’ liability as standard, so you may find you’re already covered.
Landlords are responsible for buildings insurance but, as a tenant, it’s your responsibility to insure your own belongings with contents insurance if you choose to. If you’re taking a lot of your own possessions, like TVs, games consoles, a bed and soft furnishings into your rental property, it’s worth considering a contents insurance policy.
When you’re comparing contents insurance quotes, check if tenants’ liability cover is included. To work out how much cover you’ll need, tot up the value of the fixtures, fittings and furniture that belong to the landlord, as you’d be liable for these if you accidentally damage them. If you decide against buying contents insurance, for example because you’re moving into a fully-furnished property, you can get tenants’ liability insurance as a standalone option.
It’s best to weigh up the value of your security deposit versus the cost of annual cover, in case you do accidentally damage something.
Frequently asked questions
What’s the difference between tenants’ liability and contents insurance?
The main difference is that contents insurance covers your belongings. If it doesn’t include tenants’ liability, it won’t cover any damage to your landlord’s belongings.
If you damage your own belongings, it won’t affect the deposit return on your rental. But damage to your landlord’s belongings could cause problems when you want your deposit back at the end of your tenancy. This is where tenants’ liability insurance could help.
Do I still need a security deposit if I have tenants’ liability insurance?
Yes. Tenants’ liability insurance isn’t a replacement for your security deposit, but it can help you hold on to it. This type of cover has been specifically designed to reduce the risk of you losing your deposit, due to accidental damage.
See more in our guide to deposit protection schemes.
Can tenants’ liability insurance protect me from security deposit deductions?
Tenants’ liability insurance can cover the cost of fixing or replacing items belonging to your landlord that you’ve accidentally damaged, as they happen. This can help you avoid possible disputes at the end of your tenancy. Most insurance providers only let you claim up to 30 days after the incident happened, so don’t leave it until the end of your tenancy to make a claim.
While it can protect you from having to dig into your own pocket to replace or fix broken items, tenants’ liability insurance doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get the full deposit back at the end of your tenancy.
For example, it won’t protect you from deductions due to malicious damage. It also won’t protect you if you haven’t paid your rent, utility bills or you don’t clean the place properly before you leave. For example, if you leave stains on the carpet and the landlord takes £100 out of your deposit for that, you wouldn’t be able to claim it back on your insurance.
How can I get my security deposit back in full?
If you’ve been a good tenant, it can be frustrating if your landlord starts quibbling about deductions at the end of the tenancy.
The best way to avoid disputes and possible deductions, and to get the security deposit back in full, is to leave the property in the state it was in when you moved in.
Top tips to help you get your deposit back in full:
- Check and agree an inventory
At the beginning of your tenancy, the landlord or letting agent should provide a detailed inventory which includes the condition of the property and list of contents. This can then be used as a reference at the end of the tenancy.
An inventory is not legally required but it’s in both parties’ interests to have one. Before you sign, check everthing on the inventory carefully, and add anything that’s missing. Take photos that record the date you’ve taken them (smart phone cameras can usually do this), as you go around and add them to the inventory for a more accurate record.
Make sure any changes to the inventory are initialled by you both, and the inventory is agreed before you and your landlord sign and date the document.
- Read your tenancy agreement
Don’t skim-read your tenancy agreement - go over it with a fine-tooth comb. Check what you can and can’t do, especially when it comes to alterations. Some will let you decorate as much as you want, others won’t let you change a thing.
- Clean, clean clean
One of the biggest niggles landlords have is that properties haven’t been left clean enough. So, roll up your sleeves, give the inside and outside a thorough deep clean and leave it spotless. If it’s in a better state than when you moved in, your landlord should have absolutely no grounds to complain.
Mow the lawn, clean out kitchen drawers and even dust the lightbulbs. Putting in the extra elbow grease is worth it, if it means they can’t argue about holding any of your deposit back.
If you don’t want the hassle, consider paying a professional cleaning company. You could get the carpets professionally steam cleaned. Some tenants will get this done as part of their tenancy agreement with the landlord, at the end of their tenancy.
- Fix any damage
Have a good look for any damage that may have occurred during your tenancy, for example scuff marks on the walls or blackened grouting around the shower. These are easy and usually cheap fixes that you can do yourself. Also check if any lightbulbs need changing. Yep, even the cost of replacing a lightbulb could be deducted from your deposit by a nitpicking landlord.
Am I responsible for structural damage that I haven’t caused?
No. Your landlord is responsible for arranging any structural repairs for things like:
- Heating and hot water systems
- Faulty appliances that belong to the landlord
As the tenant, though, you’re still responsible for reporting any maintenance issues to your landlord straight away, so they can be fixed.
Find out more about who’s responsible for what, in our guide to landlord and tenant responsibilities.
What other home insurance might I need?
As well as contents insurance, you might also want to consider:
• Accidental damage cover - can help cover the costs of repairing or replacing your own belongings if they’re accidentally damaged. This type of cover can be bought as an add-on to your contents insurance.
• Personal possessions cover - this can also be added to your contents insurance. It covers items you take with you outside the home such as your smartphone, jewellery, purse or handbag.
Does each tenant need their own policy?
If you share a house with other tenants, your policy should cover anyone named on the tenancy agreement. If you each have your own tenancy agreements, then your policy will only cover you.
If this is the case, each tenant will need to take out their own insurance policy, and you’ll need to declare that there are ‘other residents’ at the property.
Where can I get tenants’ liability cover?
Here at Compare the Market, we can help you compare home insurance quotes from a range of trusted UK providers. When comparing contents insurance policies, several of our providers include tenants’ liability as part of the policy – you’ll just need to check their documents. All you need to do is tell us a little bit about yourself and we’ll find you a list of relevant policies (policies based on your search criteria) in a matter of minutes.
What do I need to get a quote?
When you fill out our online form, we’ll ask you for some basic information, including:
- Your personal details
- Details about the property you’re renting, including the address
- The level of cover you need
We’ll then send you a list of tailored quotes to compare.
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**Correct as of November 2020.
***On average it can take less than 12 minutes to complete a home insurance quote through Compare the Market, based on data in November 2020.
****For the period 1st September 2020 to 30th November 2020, 1,785 people responded to the question “When completing a quote using CtM, how did you find it?” 1,717 responded with ‘easy’ or ‘very easy’ (96.2%).
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From the home team
“If you’re one of the many households that rent a property in the UK, you’ll want the peace of mind that you’re protected financially if you damage your landlord’s property by accident.
“Insurance for renters isn’t always obligatory, but it can safeguard you against risks to do with your living situation.
“The home insurance market is incredibly competitive, so shopping around and comparing quotes is a great way to get a cheaper deal.”