Property Emergencies Cause Landlord Headaches

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Property emergencies are the biggest headache for the buy to let private landlord, and many can also lead to evacuation of the property.

Emergencies including floods, fires and pest infestations have forced tenants to evacuate their rental properties almost nine million times in the last five years reveals new research from Direct Line for Business. This is the equivalent of 1.7 million evacuated rental properties every year.

In the last 12 months more than half (53 per cent) of landlords have had to call an emergency contractor to visit one of their properties. On average, they have called out a contractor once every three months, which amounts to 4.7 million calls to contractors every year, or 13,000 each day. Tenants forced to move out of a property as a result of an emergency, for such issues as fire or storm damage, were left unable to access their home for 8.5 days on average while repairs were completed. 

The most common emergencies are plumbing related, with 365,000 rental homes evacuated because of these issues each year. The second most common issue forcing renters to leave their homes are faults with electrical or gas supplies (293,000 evacuated), followed by escape of water (267,000) and pest infestations (195,000 evacuated).

Overall, landlords have had to pay out £4.5 billion on emergency contractors in the last year alone. This amounts to an average cost of £764 per callout, or £2,141 per year for every landlord in the UK. Fire is the most expensive emergency faced by landlords with an average claim cost of £17,0002. Other high-cost but low-frequency claims include damage caused by lightning and flooding (both £14,000). Despite emergencies costing landlords as much as two and a half times’ the average monthly UK rent, more than half (56 per cent) admitted they do not have suitable insurance to cover lost rental income or the cost of alternative accommodation.

The true cost of correcting an issue goes far beyond the physical repair work. While structural damage racks up the highest bill, costing an average £2,325 per callout, this accounts for just 41 per cent of the overall cost for landlords. Rehoming tenants is responsible for 31 per cent of the final cost, while loss of rent accounts for 28 per cent.

Sarah Larkin, Landlord Product Manager at Direct Line for Business, said: ‘Landlords are reacting immediately to tenants’ emergencies calling in contractors to resolve issues day or night. When tenants flag an issue early it can be resolved quickly preventing excess damage to the building and the tenants’ contents. The true cost of an emergency is unknown until all the work is complete and tenants are safely back in the property. It is essential that landlords have the right insurance cover in place to cope with the incident and avoid added stress.’