A leasehold landlord who found guttering blocked with a table, a rug and newspapers has had his insurance claim rejected despite paying thousands of pounds for repairs to the building out of his own pocket.

The landlord called in builders to sort out the problem and damage to his flat resulting from water seeping into the property from the blockage – and then sent the bill for several thousands of pounds to his insurer.

But the insurer rejected the claim for any work outside the flat as this was the freeholder’s responsibility.

The firm, Total Landlord Insurance, agreed to settle the claim for replastering and decoration inside the flat and sent the landlord around £2,000 compensation.

The insurer turned down the rest of the claim as the landlord’s policy only covered damage to the flat he owned and not the building, even though poor maintenance to the guttering outside triggered the damp.

The firm explained the freeholder had been absent for at least five years.

Unlike owning a buy to let home, a leasehold property investor must look after the inside of the flat. Landlord insurance will cover damage to the contents, fixtures and fittings.

The freeholder should insure the rest of the building; ensuring common areas, like paths, corridors, stairs, lifts, windows and the roof are in a good condition. The owner should also have cover for fire, subsidence, flood and other building cover risks.

The insurer urged landlords to keep in touch with freeholders and to regularly check contact details.

“Check any lease agreement to see who is responsible for maintenance and insurance of the building,” said a spokesman. “The majority of the time this will be the freeholder, but occasionally this can be the leaseholder or a specially formed management company to which leaseholders make contributions to a fund which deals with these expenses.

“Also, make sure you know who the freeholder/management company of the building are, where they are and their contact details, should you need to get in touch with them.”

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