Strange insurance clause in contract

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    Strange insurance clause in contract

    I'm renting a house for a year and the landlord has inserted a clause that says if there's a fire and his building insurance doesn't pay him fully because it was due to tenant negligence, then we as tenants would be liable for the damage.

    Obviously this could run into tens of thousands and we're just tenants, we don't have building insurance for his property.

    Is it legal for him to put this clause in? And what does "negligence" mean? Chip pan fire? Samsung Note exploding?

    How can I protect myself against liability?


    I'd ignore it.

    Let's assume there was no such clause but there was a fire, caused by tenant's negligence, house burns down: (forget if it is insured or not, forget if insurance pays out or not). He, or his insurers are likely to sue negligent tenant anyway, with the clause or without. You ain't gonna pay up if he sends you a bill for, say, £55k are you?

    When you say "landlord has inserted clause...." do you mean in original tenancy or a revised tenancy you've been offerred?
    I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...


      It's the original contract which I haven't signed yet. If I sign it then am I giving him permission to bill me for say £55k.

      I haven't rented before and I don't know if this clause is normal. Doesn't seem right especially when they can't tell me the difference between negligence and an accident.

      If it was my own house, I'd take out buildings insurance and accept that the company may not pay out fully. But as I'm a tenant, how can I protect myself against this risk? It's not like I can sell the house to raise the money.


        I agree the clause is of little or no effect. If you negligently caused me loss, I'd sue regardless of the clause. But it's hardly 'permission to bill you £55k'. You've got to cause the loss through negligence, first.


          I think you would agree that if you caused his house to burn down and the insurance didn't pay as they thought you were at would owe the landlord the cost of the property whether that clause was written or not!

          It's a pointless clause because it's stands to reason that if you burned down his house, you would have to pay for it.

          If you think there's a risk that you will burn down his property then attempt to take out your own insurance against such a risk.

          If you burned down your own home who would you expect to pay for it?


            Thank you everyone, that's cleared things up.

            Wright76, I understand and I would have to pay myself. It's just the clause sitting there in black and white reads like he is telling me up front that I MUST pay for any shortfall in payout and just take his word that it was through my negligence.

            Just one more question springs to mind, does the landlord just use a normal domestic building insurance policy or is there a special one for landlords who rent their property.


              The landlord would normally need landlord's insurance as a domestic building policy usually requires the policy holder to be resident.
              They're not too different, although a landlord's insurance policy might include liability insurance and/or rent insurance.
              When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
              Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).


                The landlord most likely wants you to take out "Tenants Liability" insuarance.


                  I think it is more a case that the clause is redundant, rather than that it is inappropriate.

                  In an ideal world the landlord's insurance would pay if there was not negligence involved. If they did not pay, ergo it would imply negligence and you WOULD be liable.

                  If you decided to barbeQ in the house, or store large vats of petrol, or leave burning fires unattended do you really think you would not be liable?


                    If you insure your contents on a specific "tenants contents insurance" type policy, then it should include tenant's liability cover. Don't assume every contents policy has this cover as there are several that don't. Just shop around and you will find it quite easily. In any case, the Landlord would need to prove you have been negligent which is difficult but if you are and you have this cover then you don't need to worry.
                    Steve Smith - Company Director at a leading Landlord Insurance broker with 20+ years experience in the industry
                    LandlordZONE Verified Poster and Topic Expert for Landlords Insurance since 2009
                    See my profile for contact details


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