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Landlords must comply with insurance obligations to the letter to recover premiums from tenants

A landlord who failed to comply strictly with lease clauses requiring it to take out joint insurance with tenants could not recover a share of the premiums from one of those tenants, the Lands Chamber has ruled.

Under a lease, the landlord was required to insure the property in joint names with his tenants. He failed to do so and instead insured the property in his own name – although, initially, he noted the tenants' interests on the policy certificate. However, for a period of three years he missed out one of the tenant's interests.

Under the lease terms, the landlord could recover a share of the insurance premiums from each tenant, conditional on him complying with his insuring obligations under the lease.

The tenant, whose interest had been omitted from the policy, successfully argued that the landlord had not complied with his insuring obligations and refused to pay her share of the insurance premiums for the three relevant years.

The Upper Tribunal of the Lands Chamber held that a landlord had to comply with its insurance obligations in a lease to the letter before it could recover insurance rent from tenants.

The court's decision did not make it completely clear whether noting tenants' interests on a policy in the landlord's name is enough to satisfy an obligation in a lease to insure a property in joint names. However, what is clear is that omitting one of the tenant's names is not sufficient, and the tenant was not required to pay her share of the insurance rent for the years when her interest had been missed off the policy.

Recommendation

Landlords should comply to the letter with lease clauses requiring them to take out insurance, including ensuring it is joint insurance if the lease requires it, or risk losing the right to recover a share of the premiums from their tenants.

Case ref: Green v 180 Archway Road Management Co Ltd [2012] UKUT 245 (LC) 



Jonathan Waters
is the founder of Helix Law. Before qualifying as a Solicitor he worked in industry and in investment banking for over a decade. He was also the Partner in charge of Commercial Litigation, Employment Law and Property Litigation at Stephen Rimmer LLP. Jonathan has wide experience of helping and advising businesses to avoid or to deal with commercial disputes and in particular construction disputes. 

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This article is written to raise awareness of the issues it discusses and it may not be updated after it is first written, even if the law changes. It is not intended to be legal advice and cannot be relied on as such. Helix Law is not responsible or liable for any action taken or not taken as a result of  this article. If you think the matters set out affect you and you wish to apply them to your particular circumstances then we are happy to give you free initial telephone advice. 

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