How to protect your rental property from storms - Total Landlord Insurance

January 12, 2024
Total Landlord Insurance
How to protect your rental property from storms - Total Landlord Insurance

Read an interactive and user-friendly version of this guide below.

Extreme weather events are becoming more commonplace globally - as the world gets warmer, raised temperatures not only make heatwaves hotter, but they also increase the intensity of storms.

Although summer is often associated with storms in the UK, February is the peak month for storm damage claims at Total Landlord. Storms that have battered the UK over recent years - for example storms Dennis and Ciara in 2020 and Dudley and Eunice in 2022 - all hit in the month of February. Before that, the ‘Beast from the East’ in March 2018 followed a dramatic change in weather in the last week of February. Most recently, in January 2024, the Met Office issued rare red warnings as storm Isha brought 100mph winds and ‘danger to life’.

These storms can often be traced back to a strong front of contrasting temperature between cold air over the north Atlantic and warmer air further south.

Over the past few years, increasing numbers of property owners across the UK have suffered uninsured losses due to flooding and gale-force winds, and scientists predict that climate change is likely to lead to more storm surges as sea levels rise. But what can landlords and property owners do to protect themselves against storms? Here, we share our insights – from the hazards most associated with storms and why you need landlord insurance, to how you can make sure you’re aware of an approaching storm and take action before it hits, how you can prepare your rental property to limit the impact and what you should do if your property is damaged by a storm.  

Download our handy storms infographic here.

Why do landlords need landlord insurance to protect their rental properties from storms?

Since 2018, storm claims have climbed from being the fourth to the second most common claim at Total Landlord Insurance. The number of storm claims quadrupled between 2018 and 2023, with the average claim paid out peaking at £10,801 in the 2020 storm season.

The most common hazards associated with storms are roof tiles cracking or breaking, trees falling, flooding and fences collapsing. In fact, 66% of all storm claims made between January 2019 and January 2023 were because of roof damage. The average claim value for storm-related roof damage has risen by over 50% in recent years - from £2,310 in the period 2014 to 2019, to £3,351 between 2019 and 2023.

Most recently, landlord insurance claims for storms Dudley and Eunice (both in February 2022) averaged £4,156, with one claim coming in at an eye-watering £93,020 for damage when, due to storm Eunice, a fir tree at the rear of a property fell, impacting the roof, sash windows and rear balcony.

Storm Eunice was responsible for England’s record-breaking gust speed of 122 mph on the Isle of Wight, which was described by The Met Office as the worst storm since the Burns’ Day storm in 1990, when hurricane force winds struck southern Scotland and 47 people died.

Another recent storm - storm Arwen, which hit the UK in November 2021 - resulted in a claim for £23,890 after a tenant reported that the garage doors had been blown open by the wind, which had then swept into the garage and lifted the roof off, causing the walls to collapse.

Although in the UK we don’t tend to experience storms as frequently as many other countries, major UK storms clearly do cause significant damage to rental properties every year. As changing weather patterns increase the frequency and intensity of storms in the UK it’s important to make sure you have comprehensive landlord insurance cover to protect you and your property if you are impacted by a storm.

What can landlords do to protect their rental property against storms?

It’s in your interests as a landlord to get ‘winter ready’ by protecting your property  to safeguard your tenants from harm. And prevention is the best strategy. But where should you start? Fortunately, there are a number of steps you can take to reduce the risk of damage to your property and the need to make an insurance claim.

1. Keep an eye on the weather

The Met Office reports that naming storms has helped to raise awareness and gives the public the information needed to stay safe when severe weather is on its way. For example, 90% of those within the red warning area in the southeast for storm Eunice took action to protect themselves, their property or their business.

Forewarned is forearmed – thanks to improvements in weather forecasting, better storm tracking and messaging, there is no excuse not to be aware of an approaching storm. So be sure to check the Met Office weather forecast regularly to make sure you are prepared.

Aligning our claims data with weather data has helped us to assess the risk of storm claims in the future. Our research shows that maximum gust speeds closely correlate with storm claims – as gust speeds increase, the pay out increases in a reliably linear fashion. For landlords this information highlights the importance of taking preventative measures, particularly to loose roof and fence panels, which account for well over half of all our storm damage claims.

Keep an eye on the forecast and if strong winds or extreme weather are predicted, contact your tenant to arrange a visit so that you can check that everything is in order and secure, paying particular attention to the roof and the garden. This will reduce the risk of damage to your property as well as helping to safeguard your tenants and passers-by if a roof tile comes loose and crashes to the ground.

You do need to give 24 hours’ notice before visiting a tenanted property and this may not be possible if a storm is already on its way. In this scenario, your tenant may be happy for you to access the property, but if for whatever reason you’re unable to access the property yourself, you should still contact your tenant to alert them of the in coming storm and ask them to check that everything is in order.

If there is a weather warning, you or your tenant should make the following checks:

·     Check loose roof tiles and guttering - well over half of Total Landlord’s storm damage claims are due to roof damage

·     Dismantle large garden furniture and store indoors or in a shed, and tidy away any other loose items such as plant pots or children’s toys

·     Store lawnmowers and other electrical garden items away to prevent them from getting damaged

·     Reinforce windows if a very severe storm is predicted, for example with plywood

·     If there’s a flood warning affecting your property, provide your tenants with sandbags

·     Make sure tenants close and securely fasten all windows and doors


2. Carry out advance preparations

It can be difficult to make emergency preparations for a rental property, particularly if you don’t live nearby. Make sure you carry out preventative measures in advance, when your property is empty or by prior arrangement with your tenants, so that it is adequately protected in the event of a sudden storm. Here are the key steps you should take:

Secure fences

Make sure that your fences are properly secured to reduce the chances of them being lifted up by heavy winds during a storm. Rotten posts are a common reason for fence panels falling over in high winds, so it is important to check these and if you are replacing fencing make sure you invest in a strong weather resistant option.

Although gates and fences are usually covered by insurance if they are damaged due to vandalism or fire, storm damage is often specifically excluded.

Total Landlord
, for example, will not cover damage to your fence if a storm wreaks havoc in your garden.

Secure outdoor furniture

Outdoor furniture, plant pots, toys and other everyday objects can cause damage to your rental property and even injure people if they become airborne during a storm.

Make sure you put anything away or anchor it down before a storm hits.

Check for vulnerable trees

A storm can cause dead tree branches to become loose, damaging your or someone else’s property, a car or potentially a person. Strong winds and heavy rain can even cause trees to come out of the ground, sometimes with serious consequences.

Make sure that you inspect your trees regularly –dying branches, exposed roots and peeling bark are all signs that a tree isn’t healthy. If there are branches that could come crashing down in a storm, remove them or get a professional to carry out the necessary work.

Check the roof

Inspect the roof from ground level, ideally both before the winter so that you can carry out any necessary repairs and after to assess whether there has been any damage. We advise landlords to carry out property inspections every six months. As part of this inspection, you should check the roof of the rental property to make sure that it is in good working order, with no loose tiles or damp dripping through.

Read our ultimate guide to inspecting your property for detailed guidance on what to include in a property inspection, and how to make sure you do it legally.

Check the gutters

Minimise the chance of damage to the inside of your property by making sure that your gutters are clear of any debris.

This will prevent water from pooling and causing leaks and flooding.

While you are doing this take the opportunity to make sure that the gutters are securely attached to the property and there is no damage such as cracks.

Check windows and doors

Water damage is one of the biggest problems for landlords during adverse weather conditions, so check that your windows and doors are watertight and secure. High winds can also cause windows to break.

In extreme circumstances, for example if hurricane force winds are predicted, you can board windows up with plywood or perhaps consider installing shutters that can be more easily closed to protect windows.

3. Maintain clear lines of communication with your tenants

Of course, it is much easier to make sure that your property is well-maintained and storm-ready if you have a good relationship with your tenants. Establish clear channels of communication with them so that if any repairs are needed, they know how to contact you. This will enable you to rectify any issues before they are exacerbated by a severe or unexpected weather event like a storm. Offer your tenants advice on what they can do if strong winds are forecast, for example bringing in any unsecured items from the outdoor areas.

This storm damage case study from tenancy deposit protection scheme, mydeposits, highlights the need to check in with tenants if there has been severe weather, and to encourage tenants to always report issues when they happen.



4. Carry out regular inspections

We recommend carrying out property inspections within a month of the tenant moving in and then every six months. At the start of the tenancy make sure the tenant has been advised in writing that you will be organising regular visits and before arranging an inspection, check the minimum notice that you need to give to access the property. Agree a day and time when the tenant can be there, ideally when it is light so that you can easily inspect both the interior and exterior of the building.

Your main priority is to check the general condition of the whole property, but when it comes to mitigating against storm damage, it is important to pay particularly close attention to the condition of the roof and the garden. Find out more about inspections in our guide, How to inspect your property.

5. Get landlord insurance

There is much you can do to reduce the risk of storm damage to your property, but winter can be a challenging season for even the best prepared of landlords.

Making sure that you have comprehensive landlord insurance in place provides peace of mind that you are protected if your rental property is damaged by a storm this winter.

In the worst case scenario - that a storm damages your property to the extent that your tenants have to move out - a comprehensive policy like Total Landlord Insurance’s Premier policy will not only cover the cost of repair work but also loss of rent and alternative accommodation.

Our experience also shows that investment in maintenance can be seasonal to match claims: when it comes to protecting your property against storms, make sure you do it before the spike in storm claims in the winter months, particularly February. Our guide, Property maintenance tips for all seasons, is a comprehensive checklist designed to help landlords carry out key maintenance checks all year round.

What should you do if your rental property is hit by a storm?

If your property suffers storm damage despite all your preparation, stay in close contact with your tenants - their safety is the priority.

It’s always best to contact your insurer as soon as you can after a storm has caused damage to your property, to avoid delaying your claim. Take time and date stamped photographs of the damage to show your insurance provider and don’t carry out any repair work until you have spoken to your insurer, as they may get a specialist to inspect your home to assess the damage.

If there is extensive damage - for example the property has been flooded - the gas and electricity must be turned off. If a fault that you are found to have known about but not fixed has caused the damage, then you may be obliged to pay for alternative accommodation yourself. But if there has been a natural disaster and the property is uninhabitable, the onus is on the local council to provide alternative accommodation.

Fortunately, there is much that you can do as a landlord, to protect your rental property against storms:

·       Keeping an eye on the weather

·       Advance preparations and maintenance

·       Communication with tenants

·       Regular inspections

·       Having comprehensive landlord insurance

Prevention is always better than cure and as a landlord it is your responsibility to make sure your property is safe and secure.

With severe weather on the increase, you need specialist landlord insurance to provide cover in case your buy to let property is damaged. Remember, standard home insurance isn’t designed for rental properties. Total Landlord Insurance was created to meet the specific needs of landlords and offers peace of mind should the worst happen.

Download our handy storms infographic here.

Become a Total Landlord.
Get a quote for our award winning landlord insurance.