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Tenants’ liability insurance

Your landlord may deduct the costs of any accidental damage from your deposit. Find out how tenants’ liability can mean you’re not left out of pocket.

Eve Powell
Eve Powell
Updated 5 January 2022  | 6 min read

Key points

  • If you accidentally damage your landlord’s property you could be charged for repairs or replacements
  • Tenants’ liability insurance can protect you against deposit deductions and being out of pocket at the end of your tenancy
  • It’s often included as part of tenants' contents insurance, but you can also buy it as standalone cover
  • Cover’s provided as accidents happen, so you’ll typically need to claim within 30 days

What's tenants' liability insurance?

Tenants’ liability insurance is designed to protect you in case you accidentally damage your landlord’s property.

If you’re responsible for something happening to your landlord’s furniture, fixtures or fittings, it’s likely you’ll be asked to pay for repairing or replacing them.

This type of home insurance cover means you won’t be left out of pocket or lose your security deposit if you or a guest causes accidental damage in your rented accommodation.

How does tenants’ liability insurance work?

Tenants’ liability insurance pays out for some of the most common reasons that a landlord might deduct money from your deposit. Typically, this is for types of accidental damage.

When you move in, your landlord will expect you to keep everything that’s provided in good condition. So this cover’s particularly useful if you’re renting furnished accommodation.

It works by reducing the risk of you having to fund repairs and replacements out of your security deposit. Or even needing to pay more if your security deposit doesn't cover the damage.

Do I need tenants’ liability insurance?

Depending on your tenancy agreement you could find this cover is mandatory.

You may have contents insurance and your landlord will have their own insurance, but these might not cover you if you accidentally damage your landlord’s property and belongings.

In fact, your landlord or their insurer may make legal claims against you to recoup these costs.

Tenants’ liability insurance can help by covering the cost of fixing and repairing items that you damage by accident.

This means there’s less risk of a dispute with your landlord. But even if this did happen, tenants’ liability insurance can also cover legal costs if you had to go to court over a dispute.

What does tenants’ liability insurance cover?

Typically, your tenants’ liability insurance will cover accidental damage to things like:

  • Household goods
  • Fixtures and fittings
  • Furniture
  • White goods and appliances
  • Carpets and soft furnishings

For example, if you spilled red wine on the carpet or smashed a window when you were moving furniture, tenants’ liability cover would help pay to repair or replace them.

But be aware that it won’t cover damage caused by wear and tear, or for anything that was damaged on purpose by you, your housemates or any guests you might have.

When should I make a claim on tenants’ liability insurance?

In the same way that you’d use home or car insurance, this type of insurance is designed to protect you as accidents happen.

And by covering the cost of accidents soon after they’ve occurred, it can help to minimise or prevent any money being deducted from your deposit at the end of your tenancy.

Most insurance providers will give a maximum of 30 days after the incident happened for you to make a claim. But this may vary between policies, so check to see what your insurer’s requirements and timescales are.

Does tenants’ liability insurance protect my security deposit?

Yes, this cover is designed to protect your security deposit and reduce the risk of you losing it if your landlord wants reimbursement for damaged items.

Security deposits are often equal to one month’s rent, which may mean you have to pay out your own pocket if you've caused a considerate amount of damage.

Whereas tenants’ liability policies can insure you up to £10,000 as standard to cover the cost of any repairs or replacements.

Do I still need to provide a security deposit if I have tenants’ liability insurance?

Yes, you don’t take out tenants’ liability insurance in place of a security deposit, but instead it’s there to protect it.

Tenants’ liability insurance only protects you against accidental damage. If other types of damage happen, like malicious damage or harm caused to the property due to negligence, your landlord will use your security deposit to pay for this.

What other home insurance might I need?

Your landlord will be responsible for insuring the physical building, but it’ll be down to you to make sure your contents are protected.

You can take out contents insurance or, depending on your situation, you might prefer to take out tenants insurance.

As well as protecting your possessions, this often includes tenants’ liability cover and accidental damage to your landlords’ fixtures and fittings.

If you’re worried about accidentally damaging your own items, you can usually buy accidental damage cover as an add-on to your contents policy. You can also add personal possessions cover to protect any items you take outside the home.

Where can I get tenants’ liability cover?

Often this is included as part of tenants’ contents insurance, but if it isn't you can buy it as stand-alone cover.

If you’ve already got a policy, check to see what’s included. If you still need to take out tenants’ liability cover or tenants' contents insurance, you can shop around and compare providers.

Remember to not just compare prices, but to also check cover limits, exclusions and levels of protection.

What’s the difference between tenants’ liability and contents insurance?

The main difference is that contents insurance covers your own belongings from damage or loss. But unless your insurance includes tenants’ liability, it won’t cover your landlord’s property.

Tenants’ liability insurance will protect you against the costs, or deposit deductions, from any accidental damage you’ve caused to your landlord’s property or belongings.

Can I buy tenants’ liability insurance on its own?

While it’s often included in tenants' contents insurance policies, it’s also possible to buy tenants’ liability insurance as a stand-alone policy from a number of providers.

Take a look at what the costs might be if you were to accidentally damage something in the property, versus the price you’d pay for annual tenant’s liability cover.

Does tenants’ liability insurance cover accidental damage?

Yes, this type of insurance will cover any accidental damage you cause to your landlord’s property and possessions.

If you want your own belongings to be covered for accidental damage, you’ll need to take this cover out separately, or as an add-on to your contents insurance policy.

Do I need my own tenants’ liability insurance if I live in a house share?

Unless each tenant has their own tenancy agreement, you can have a shared contents and liability policy that will cover all of the tenants.

However, if you want to be sure you’ve got the right level of cover for your belongings, you may prefer to take out your own tenants’ contents insurance that also covers you for tenants’ liability.

And if there are other people living in the accommodation that aren’t named on the tenancy agreement, they’ll need their own insurance.