Insurance for renting a house: All you need to know

Advice for landlords or tenants.

Whether you’re a landlord or tenant, insurance for renting a house gives you protection and peace of mind. But the type of insurance you need changes depending on whether you’re a tenant or a property owner. 

If you’re a tenant, you don’t have the extra legal responsibilities of owning a property. But you’ll still want to protect your possessions.

If you’re a landlord, regular home insurance won’t cover the risks and responsibilities involved with renting. That’s where specialist landlord insurance policies come in.

To help you understand your options, here’s everything you need to know about insurance for renting a house — no matter which side of the transaction you’re on.

Do I need home insurance if I rent?

We’ll cover tenants first.

So, do renters need home insurance? Technically speaking, no. If you’re a tenant, home insurance isn’t a legal requirement. But it is a good idea.

Consider the following situations: There’s a break-in at your home, and your new laptop is stolen. A burst water pipe floods your bedroom, damaging your musical instruments. A kitchen fire breaks out unexpectedly and destroys all of your cooking and baking equipment.

In these scenarios, insurance means you aren’t left out of pocket.

There are two main types of home insurance. Building insurance and contents insurance. So, what type should you get?

Do I need contents and buildings insurance as a tenant?

If you’re a tenant, the good news is building insurance is down to your landlord

It’s your responsibility to look after the house while you’re living in it. But if something happens to the structure of your home that’s out of your control (such as a burst pipe), sorting this out will be the landlord’s responsibility.

But your personal possessions and valuables are entirely up to you. This is where contents cover comes in.

While your landlord might have their own contents insurance policy in place, this doesn’t mean you’re covered. Your landlord’s policy just covers their furniture — things like carpets and lights, or any furniture you might have agreed to use while you rent.

If you want protection for your items, such as clothes, jewellery, antiques, furniture, sports equipment, musical instruments, or tech gadgets, you’ll need your own contents insurance. 

Most contents insurance policies cover possessions in the event of break-ins, or loss or damage through floods or fires. Check with your provider exactly what’s covered and what’s not though, as you don’t want any surprises if you have to make a claim.

What home insurance do I need if I rent?

Legally, you don’t need home insurance if you’re a tenant renting a property.

But we’ve already seen that contents insurance is a good idea.

There are a few different types of contents insurance for renting a house. They cover different situations and items. For instance, if you’re the sole tenant of a property and own a high-performance racing bike, or you’re renting a room as a student and want to protect your cello — you’ll need different policies.

Here’s a breakdown of your main options.

  • Tenants contents insurance: This helps to protect your personal possessions against theft, damage or loss by covering the costs of repairing or replacing your items.
  • Bicycle insurance: A common one for renters, covering not only the cost of your bike in case of loss, accidental damage, or theft, but also personal accidents, public liability, and legal fees.
  • Student contents insurance: If you’re a student, you may be living in a large residence or a flatshare. This specialist contents insurance is designed to protect your belongings in any type of living arrangement.
  • Musical instrument insurance: Musical instruments are some of the most expensive and precious items we own. If you’re a musician (whether professionally or just as a hobby) and want cover, this type of insurance is a must.
  • Gadget and possessions insurance: We all know how costly gadgets like iPads, mobile phones, cameras, and laptops are to replace. They’re also prone to accidental damage, loss, and theft. Gadget and possessions insurance means you’re covered for replacements and repairs if anything happens to your tech.

How much is renters insurance in the UK?

Once you know what cover you want, it’s time for quotes.

Tenants insurance, sometimes also called renters insurance, ranges in price.

The amount you pay depends on things like the area you live in, your claims history, the number of people you live with, your insurance provider, the items you’re protecting, and how much cover you want.

To give a ballpark figure, analysis from Compare the Market revealed that just over half their users found home contents policies for £66 or less.

It’s worthwhile remembering this is just an initial quote. The actual price could be higher or lower once a tailored policy is agreed. The best way to find out how much renters insurance is for you is by contacting insurance providers directly.

Do I need insurance when renting a house?

We’ve covered tenants. Now it’s time for landlords.

If you’re renting a house out as a landlord, what insurance cover do you need?

You might be surprised to learn that, like tenants, insurance isn’t a legal obligation for landlords. Despite this, almost all landlords have insurance. It’s normally a condition of your buy-to-let mortgage agreement, and for good reason.

Mortgage lenders ask for landlord insurance because it means your income is protected. You’ll normally find building and contents insurance as standard, but you can also include cover for things like loss of rental income, vandalism, and landlord liability protection.

So, what type of landlord insurance policy should you consider?

Landlord insurance

Landlord insurance is just a name for a collection of policies — all designed to protect landlords, their properties, and their businesses. It usually includes landlord building and contents insurance. 

Landlord buildings insurance covers damage to the structure of your property from natural events like storms, subsidence, fire, and floods. It also covers damage caused by people. This includes accidental or malicious tenant damage, as well as break-ins.

Landlord contents insurance covers the costs of replacing any furniture that isn’t built in. This is particularly helpful for anyone renting out a furnished or semi-furnished property.

You might also consider add-ons like landlord liability insurance (protecting you against injury claims from tenants, tradespeople, or members of the public), as well as employer liability insurance if you employ staff such as cleaners or admin assistants.

For more in-depth information on policy options, read our guide to landlord insurance policies and the different types of insurance you might need.

Let property insurance

While landlord insurance normally includes liability cover, let property insurance focuses on protecting the property itself. 

It includes building insurance as standard (including accidental damage cover for the physical structure of the property), and usually also includes contents insurance, too. Remember, this only covers the landlord’s personal belongings, not the tenant’s.

You can add optional extras to the policy (just have a chat with your insurer about the best cover for your situation) like home emergency cover or rent guarantee insurance.

Rent guarantee insurance

Rent guarantee insurance is a common type of landlord insurance. It covers your rental income if tenants are struggling to pay.

Even with the most trustworthy and long-term tenants, you can never 100% predict what’s going to happen. 

As a landlord, if you’re faced with tenants in rent arrears, you’ll still have to pay your mortgage and other property expenses like bills and upkeep. Affording this for months at a time is a challenge even for the most financially prudent.

Rental guarantee insurance takes the stress and worry away. So if the worst happens and you have to go through a lengthy eviction process, you know your income is protected.

Speak to your insurer about what’s included, but rental guarantee policies usually cover unpaid rent for a specific amount of time as well as legal costs, advice, and court expenses if needed.

Do I need insurance when renting to family?

It’s worth mentioning that if you’re renting to close friends or family members, such as a sister, nephew or partner, you’re still a landlord. Even if you totally trust the person, whenever money changes hands, they’re technically a tenant. 

So landlord insurance is a sensible idea.

A standard home insurance policy won’t remain valid if you’re renting your property. The same applies even if you’re still living there and renting just a single room.

This means that if something gets damaged (say a fire in your brand-new fitted kitchen), your home and contents insurance won’t cover you.

To ensure the right policy for your situation, talk to your insurance provider. They’ll advise accordingly and put together a tailored quote.

How much do you pay for landlord insurance?

Like tenant’s insurance, the cost of landlord insurance varies.

It depends on your insurance provider, your property location, the type and number of homes you’re insuring, how many tenants you have, the level of cover you want, your claims history and more.

For example, insurance for a studio flat with a single tenant will be significantly cheaper than a large detached property rented as an HMO. The only way to know how much you’ll pay for landlord insurance is by asking for quotes. 

Insurance for renting a house: Quickfire summary

So, is it worth getting insurance on a rental property?

In short, yes.

Insurance isn’t a legal requirement for landlords or tenants. But if you want peace of mind to know that your income, property, and possessions are protected, it’s worthwhile.

If you’re living in a rented property, buildings insurance is down to your landlord. And there are lots of contents insurance policies to make sure you’ve got the right cover.

For landlords, specialist insurance policies are normally a condition of buy-to-let mortgage agreements. Landlord insurance packages normally include building and contents insurance as standard, with policies like landlord liability and rental guarantee available as extras.

At Howden Insurance, we’re specialists in providing cover for landlords and tenants. We know how important the right insurance is, so get in touch today to find out how we can help.

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