Floods, fires, pest infestations. It's the stuff of nightmares for tenants and landlords alike. Household emergencies in the UK private rental sector have hit almost nine million instances in the last five years.
According to the latest figures released by Direct Line for Business, emergencies in the home have forced 53% of landlords to call an emergency contractor to visit one of their properties in the last year alone. 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%) 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% of the overall cost for landlords. Rehoming tenants is responsible for 31% of the final cost, while loss of rent accounts for 28%.
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.”
Landlord insurance will cover policyholders for fire and major flooding as standard, however for other unforeseen incidents Direct Line for Business has developed its new Landlord Emergency add-on to give peace of mind and control back to landlords and tenants alike.
The new cover offers access to a 24-hour claims line which will send out a certified contractor to secure or prevent further damage to the property. Contractors covered include drainage engineers, electricians, glaziers, locksmiths, plumbers, pest control, roofers, gas and heating engineers.
Landlord Emergency will cover call-out charges, the costs for labour and materials up to £1,500 per claim, with policy-holders able to make as many claims as they need, should the worst happen. Furthermore, tenants can make a claim and have an emergency dealt with on behalf of the landlord, saving time and potentially further damage.
Larkin continued: “No landlord wants their tenant to be inconvenienced, but equally they want them to be safe. We have developed our emergency cover to give some control back to both the landlord and tenant when an issue arises.
Being able to get in touch with a certified contractor will give peace of mind and have a positive impact on the landlord and tenant relationship.”