Common building insurance for your flat

Depending on what your title deeds say, or don't say, you may need to take out a common insurance policy with the other owners to cover common areas of your building. This page looks at the kind of building insurance for flats you need.

What insurance do I need my flat?

You are legally responsible for insuring your own flat up to its 'reinstatement value'. This is the cost of rebuilding your home from scratch if, for example, it was destroyed in a fire. Depending on where you live, the reinstatement value may be less than the market value (the price you would get for your flat if you sold it). This responsibility applies even if the title deeds state otherwise.

You must be insured against:

  • damage by fire, smoke, lightning, explosion, earthquake

  • damage by storm or flood

  • theft or attempted theft

  • riots or other disturbances

  • vandalism

  • subsidence, heave or landslip

  • leaking water from water tanks, pipes and domestic appliances

  • collision with the building from outside

  • leakage of oil from fixed heating installations

  • accidental damage to underground services.

The only exceptions are:

  • if you try to get cover for all these risks but find you can't, or

  • if the cost of insuring your flat against any of these risks is unreasonably high.

In either of these cases, you won't have to be insured about that particular risk.

However, unless all the owners in the building are properly insured, you won't be adequately covered.

How can I find out whether the other owners are insured?

Because all the owners in your building must insure their flats for the whole place to be covered, you have a right to ask them to show you evidence that their flats are insured. For example, you can ask them to show you a copy of their insurance policy and proof that they've been keeping up with the payments.

You need to ask them to do this in writing, and the other owner must show you the evidence within 14 days. If they refuse to cooperate, or if you discover that they haven't insured their flat properly, you can take them to court to make sure they do. Talk to a solicitor if you're in this situation.

What about common insurance?

Your title deeds may say that you are personally responsible for insuring common areas that you own, or that you need to take out joint insurance with some or all of the other owners. If there are common areas in your building that aren't included in any of the owners' individual insurance policies, you may need to take out a joint policy between you. You can use the rules set out in the tenement management scheme (TMS) to make a 'scheme decision' on this.

How do we divide the cost of common insurance?

If your title deeds require you to take out common insurance, they may also state what share of the costs you should pay. If your deeds don't mention how the costs should be divided, you and the other owners should split the bill evenly.

If your deeds don't say anything about common insurance, but you and the other owners make a scheme decision to take out a joint policy, you can decide between yourselves how best to divide up the costs. For example, you may split the costs equally, or according to the size of your flats.

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Last updated: 6 February 2017

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England