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Owner's Liability vs. Tenant's Liability

The spate of falling windows has highlighted the danger of loose and corroded aluminium window frames and provoked a public debate on making regular window inspection mandatory.

There is a widely held misconception among the public that a tenant will not be responsible for anything that happens to the flat, and that only the owner of the flat bears that liability. However, cases such as falling window panes demonstrated that one would be held liable in the event that one's own negligence caused third party injury or property damage, regardless of whether one was a tenant or an owner. A case in point is if it is proved that the window was being improperly used and fell as a result of overload from hanging wet clothes by the tenant, it is likely that the tenant will also have liability towards any third party victims.

In fact, a tenant and an owner have very different sets of obligations and perhaps, it would be useful to remind you of two insurance terms usually found in a home insurance policy. 'Owner's liability' refers to the legal liability of the insured as a landlord and part owner of the common areas of the building. 'Tenant's liability' protects the tenant's contractual liability under the tenancy agreement for damage caused by fire, explosion and storm. As such, both a tenant and an owner have a need to take out a home insurance policy in order to make sure that they are properly indemnified against unforeseen events or mishaps under the 'Personal Liability' section.

One would also ask, if he or she is an owner but leases the flat to others, will he or she be insured under the 'Household Contents' section?

As the home is not occupied by the owner, insurance cover will be restricted to fire and perils such as explosion, lightning, earthquake, typhoon... as listed in the policy. Therefore, a generic home contents insurance may not cover all your needs as a landlord, and you may want to also consider the Landlord Protector insurance policy which provides comprehensive insurance coverage for a landlord including liability cover as well as loss of rent.

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