Leasehold buildings insurance law can seem a little confusing. However, the answer is quite simple and will normally be found in your lease.
Generally, if you own a flat in a block then the buildings insurance is the responsibility of the freeholder and you will contribute towards this as part of your service charge.
Alternatively, residents in your block might split the buildings insurance between them. This is common with residents associations or if you own a share of the freehold.
If the freeholder hasn’t arranged cover, you’ll need to get your own buildings insurance.
If there are multiple flats in the building, you may find it’s easier (and possibly cheaper) to club together with the other leaseholders and buy a policy.
If in doubt you should always check your lease. Generally your solicitor will make you aware of these requirements when you first buy the property. This is important for things like mortages. While buildings insurance is not a legal requirement most lenders require it in order to lend to you because they need to protect their own financial interest in the property.
It can be frustrating for flat owners who have to rely on their freeholders for buildings insurance – which may be uncompetitive and difficult to manage.
However, you can get details of the insurance by requesting it. A freeholder must respond to a written request for a summary of the policy within 21 days. The summary must show the sum for which the building is insured, the name of the insurer and the risks covered by the policy. If the freeholder refuses then they are committing an offence and could potentially be liable for a fine of up to £2,500.