- Around 1.6m leasehold property owners currently lack contents insurance due to confusion over freeholder obligations
- Survey of homeowners finds 30% of leaseholders think freeholder arranges contents cover
- comparethemarket.com estimates 30,780 new builds will be underinsured over next five years
- Average UK home contains £45,000 worth of contents
There are an estimated 1.6 million leasehold property owners in the UK whose contents are not insured. This finding is based on research conducted by comparethemarket.com on leaseholders views of what their freeholder is responsible for organising on their behalf.
In a survey of 2000 homeowners, comparethemarket.com has uncovered that almost a third (30%) of UK leaseholder property owners think that the freeholder arranges contents insurance or combined buildings and contents (aka “home”) insurance on their behalf. In reality however, the freeholder is only obliged to organise buildings cover for the property and does not insure the contents. With the average UK home containing £45,000 worth of contents, being underinsured could lead to millions of pounds in “unclaimable” lost, stolen or damaged goods.
There are 5.37 million leasehold properties in the UK. Taking the findings and applying them on a national scale, comparethemarket.com estimates that approximately 1.6 million households do not have contents insurance, despite believing that they are in fact covered.
21.6% of the total housing stock in the UK are leasehold properties. However, withthe growing trend for new housing developments being sold as leaseholds, coupled with the Government pledging to build 475,000 starter or affordable homes by 2020, this problem could escalate.
If only 21.6% of the 475,000 new homes built over the next five years are leaseholds – a very conservative estimate considering the fact that a large proportion of new builds are now leaseholds – and 30 per cent of those leaseholders don’t take out contents insurance because they believe the freeholder has organised it on their behalf, then residents of over 30,000 of these new starter or affordable homes won’t be insured against the loss, theft or damage of their contents.
Commenting on the findings, Damian Reilly, Head of Home Insurance, comparethemarket.com, said: “With the proportion of new build leaseholds growing, these findings are particularly worrying. Our research suggests that a significant number of leaseholders don’t know what their freeholder is obliged to organise for them. This ‘cover confusion’ is leading to a large number of people blissfully unaware of the fact that the contents of their property are not insured. We have estimated that more than 30,000 of the starter and affordable homes the Government wants to build by 2020 will be underinsured. The reality is that this figure is conservative given the fact that almost all new residential properties in London are leaseholds.
“Potentially millions of households face the prospect of double devastation – firstly discovering that they’ve been burgled and secondly finding out from their freeholder that their prized possessions are not covered by insurance. It is absolutely vital that leaseholders check what their freeholder is obliged to do, and that they make sure their contents are covered as well as the building in which they live. With home building firmly on the Government’s agenda, there are going to be even more leaseholders and potentially, more people underinsured.”
5.37 million leasehold properties and 21.6 per cent of properties are leasehold – Stats come from the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership – the figures have been accepted by accepted by the British Property Federation and the Council of Mortgage Lenders:
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