With more and more extreme weather events occurring across the globe (Australian bushfires, American hurricanes and British storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge) it’s no longer possible to deny the effects of climate change are causing chaos. We take a look at what this chaos means for the rental sector and what obligations landlords have when extreme circumstances drive tenants from their homes.
Do landlords have to provide their tenants with alternative accommodation in cases when emergency relocations are required?
Provided the issue that makes the property uninhabitable is caused by external forces (fire or flood for example) and not due to the landlord being in breach of their repairing duties (faulty electrical wiring etc.), landlords are not obligated to provide alternative accommodation. You should bear in mind, however, that tenants are not legally obligated to move out unless the property is deemed genuinely uninhabitable. If tenants can choose to remain and the repair work has to be done around them, the work is likely to take much longer which can mean higher costs, so it makes sense to maintain cordial relations with your tenant and find workable solutions for both parties.
On that note, can landlords still charge rent when the tenants have found alternative accommodation?
There are no set rules or regulations on this point – the answer will depend on the individual tenancy contract in place. While many Assured Shorthold Tenancies have a clause where the landlord agrees to return any rent payable during the uninhabitable period, this issue is on a case-by-case basis. It is worth noting, however, that even if your AST does not contain this clause, landlords should look at the moral obligations to their tenants as well as the legal ones.
What type of insurance do landlords need for when their properties become uninhabitable?
Whether or not your tenancy contract contains stipulations about rental payments, the insurance you hold takes centre stage. While some ‘landlords insurance’ policies may cover alternative accommodation, looking into a separate policy to specifically mitigate against these circumstances is a valuable investment as it will allow your tenants access to emergency relocation services like A3 Relocation Services and ensure you’re meeting all your legal obligations. When considering whether to extend insurance into this area, landlords should bear in mind that even when a house has been structurally repaired, certain key areas such as bathrooms or kitchens might still be inoperational and out of bounds. Comprehensive forms of insurance may cover temporary solutions – like Kitchenpods – and make your rental property accessible for your tenants, restoring your rental income more quickly.
Just how necessary is all this?
‘Extremely’, if you’ll excuse the weather-related pun. Repairs issues on a property’s garden or exterior were up 186% on last year for the period when Storm Ciara ravaged the country, while Fixflo helped providers manage over 5,000 claims during the three-day period.