If you own a leasehold flat, it is usually the landlord’s responsibility to arrange insurance for the building and this is normally recovered as part of the service charge.
The costs of this insurance must be reasonable, but as a lessee it can be difficult to know whether the costs are in fact reasonable without first obtaining a copy of the policy and then obtaining comparable quotes against which to compare the policy.
Can My Lease Help Me?
Leases often include a clause that provides the lessee with a right to request the insurance documents, such as a summary of the policy or receipts for the premium.
If there is such a clause in the lease then the leaseholder can rely on it. If the landlord does not comply then they will be in breach of the lease. The leaseholder’s remedy would be damages, or even a mandatory injunction to compel the landlord to comply with their obligations.
What Are My Statutory Rights to a Copy of the Insurance Policy?
Regardless of what the lease says, residential leaseholders whose leases were originally granted for more than 21 years have statutory rights to certain information about the building’s insurance policy. Where a service charge is payable which includes an amount for insurance, a lessee has the right to ask the landlord in writing for a written summary of the current insurance cover, by virtue of the Schedule of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985.
The summary should include:
- The sum or sums for which the property is insured
- The name of the insurer
- The risks covered in the policy
The landlord can only be required to provide the summary once in each insurance period (usually one year).
Does The Landlord Have To Comply?
The landlord is under a statutory obligation to comply with a request within 21 days. If the landlord fails to comply without a reasonable excuse, they commit a criminal offence and are liable on conviction for a fine of up to £2,500. Whilst this would appear to place a very onerous duty on the landlord it seldom helps the leaseholder who may be unwilling to pursue a criminal conviction, particularly when all they are interested in is a copy of the policy.