As a tenant, am I obliged to have contents insurance?

Question from updated on 4th December 2008:

My landlord is asking to have a copy of my contents insurance in case of fire. He wants to make sure that his rent is paid if the house is burnt down. Can he ask me for this? I feel it is none of his business if I have contents insurance or not. (I do have it..) He has threatened me with getting his lawyer involved. He is a very difficult man to deal with who shows up unannounced and has entered the premises on numerous occasions when we haven't been home. He says he is checking on work he has done in the basement. He has been asked to call before he comes and still doesn't. What can I do? Does he have the right to ask for a copy of this? I have never heard of this before.

Our expert Jeff Montgomery responded:

A landlord cannot require a tenant to obtain or maintain contents insurance. It is your choice whether you get insurance and whether you provide a copy of your insurance policy to your landlord. You may wish to tell your landlord in writing that you are not willing to give him a copy of your insurance documents unless they become directly relevant to your tenancy. You may also wish to discuss your concerns with him directly.

In relation to your concerns about your landlord accessing the property, a landlord can go onto the tenants’ property (without entering the house) without giving the tenant notice. However, the landlord must make sure they don’t interfere with the tenants’ peace, comfort and privacy. However if the landlord wants to enter the house they do have to give the tenant appropriate notice. To carry out a property inspection the landlord must give the tenant 48 hours notice. To do any necessary work to the property the landlord must give the tenant 24 hours notice. In an emergency the landlord can enter the house without giving notice. If the landlord wants to enter the house for any other reason, they must obtain the tenants’ consent.

If your landlord has entered your property without giving you the correct notice and without getting your consent, you can notify him in writing that this entry is unlawful, and that in future he must give you the correct notice or seek your consent to enter the house. For further advice and information about a tenant’s obligations about insurance and the landlord’s right to enter the property, you can contact the Department of Building and Housing on 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).

The Department of Building and Housing provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.


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