Why is converted flat insurance such a specialist product? What distinguishes it from other forms of property insurance?
One of the reasons why planning authorities take such an interest in flat conversions is illustrated by a story published in the Guardian newspaper on the 25th of August 2018.
Because planning permission is not currently required for conversions of commercial units to residential flats, in some cases the latter have been as small as just 13 sqm in floor area (12ft by 12ft) – considerably smaller than the minimum standards otherwise prescribed for residential accommodation.
Unsurprisingly, some housing experts, including the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), have expressed their concern about the poor housing standards that result – and stricter planning controls have been called for.
With respect to house conversions, however, planning legislation is already clear – you must have planning permission to convert or subdivide a residential dwelling into flats, explains the Planning Portal.
If the house you want to convert is a listed building, it is imperative that the necessary planning permission is obtained before any work starts, since you might be committing a criminal offence if you alter its historical characteristics.
If the flat conversion is to a building situated in a conservation area and involves some element of demolition work, special planning permission is also needed for the proposed demolition.
Converted flat insurance
In short, converted flats occupy a special place in the range of different housing types created in the UK.
Any insurance for those different groups must therefore reflect their respective characteristics – and, in the case of residential conversions – this means specialist converted flat insurance.
Typically, protection of the building itself – against such potentially serious risks as fire, storm damage, flooding, impacts, vandalism and theft – is at the heart of converted flat insurance.
But the cover also recognises that individual dwelling units in the converted building are likely to be let to tenants – who are likely to be contributing to this essential insurance cover wither through the management fees incorporated into their lease agreements or included in the rent paid by tenants.
Many flat conversions are likely to include a lift. If that is the case, then there is also a statutory obligation on the landlord to arrange regular safety inspections and to hold a minimum level of insurance to cover this cost – typically referred to as engineering insurance.
Payment of an additional premium on this heading of your insurance policy may ensure that the cost of essential repairs to any lift or lifts is also covered.
Specialist converted flat insurance also recognises that there are likely to be more than the usual areas not only of communal space – such as entrance lobbies, stairways and hallways – but possibly shared facilities such as bathrooms or kitchens too. Policies may be written to provide cover for such areas.
If you are thinking about converting a house into flats, you might want to arrange your converted flat insurance well ahead of time, since it might also provide valuable cover whilst building works are in progress – offering cover such as employers’ liability insurance for any contractors and pubic liability indemnity insurance.