Approx two and a half years ago a flat was left vacant after the death of the owner. It has remained so since, we are told by the executrix due to probate matters. Standing charges are fully paid and directors keep a voluntary eye on the flat to ensure it is wind and watertight as we hold a key. I do wonder if there are legal, insurance and other complications we should be aware of? It seems that the long period of vacancy MAY be coming to an end soon.
Many thanks for your enquiry.
I am pleased to hear that the service charges for the flat are being paid as this can often be a problem.
I am concerned however of the fact the flat is unoccupied as this will impact on the block insurance you have in place.
You will need to consider very carefully the terms of your insurance. The policy wording will set out the perils that are covered by the policy, and will also set out the circumstances in which payment will not be made. Often, if a flat has been unoccupied for a certain number of consecutive days, for example 30 consecutive days, certain perils will no longer be covered. For example, your insurance is likely to cover damage caused by escape of water. In circumstances where the flat has been unoccupied for a certain number of consecutive days, the insurance are unlikely to cover payment for any damages to that unoccupied flat.
This is likely to apply to a host of other perils.
Your policy is also likely to require you to notify your insurer of the un-occupancy. There is usually a clause in the policy that requires the policy holder to notify the insurer as soon as possible of any alteration in risk and change in occupancy.
I suggest therefore you look very carefully at your insurance policy, and comply with all notification requirements without delay.
Cassandra Zanelli, Partner and Head of Property Management, Taylor&Emmet LLP