Me and my partner rent a two bedroom flat in London. Every six months the estate agent does a property inspection to ensure there is no damage to the home.
We were told no one needs to be at the property when the inspection is made as they have keys and will let themselves in and lock up. Therefore, we both went to work as normal.
When I came back, I found our flat door wide open. Fortunately, nothing was taken and it didn’t look like anyone had been in but it had been open for six hours.
I told the agent who was very apologetic but I want to know what who would be liable if something had been taken or broken? I have home insurance but surely the agent would be at fault?
This is Money replies: It is not reassuring that you trusted an estate agent to enter your property and yet they didn’t even lock the door behind them when leaving.
Neither you or your partner stayed at the property whilst the inspection was being made as you were told this would not be necessary.
Although you live in a secure flat block, delivery drivers and cleaners have access throughout the day, meaning your home was left vulnerable for hours on end.
Fortunately, when you returned you found that nothing had been taken and it seemed as though the flat had not been disturbed.
However, it no doubt concerned you greatly when you returned home to find the door swung wide open.
You are also sensible enough to have home insurance that should cover most items and damage should something go wrong.
In this case, though, you question whether it would even be yourself that would need to make a claim as you were not the one in the wrong.
Instead, it could be that the estate agents have to pay up as they were the ones at fault.
Chris King, head of home insurance at Compare the Market, replies: If your door was left accidentally unlocked by a third party, your insurance policy may cover this.
However, it’s best to get in contact with your provider to check your terms and conditions, as some providers do have exclusions and require evidence of ‘force and violence’ to gain entry to a property for claims to be paid out.
Claims often need to be reported to the police within a set number of hours too – typically between 24 to 48 hours.
If a door is left open by the policyholder, this could be considered negligence and against the conditions of the policy – meaning the customer hasn’t taken reasonable steps to prevent loss or damage.
It’s also worth being aware that your home insurance provider is likely to increase your future premiums if a loss did occur, so it might be worth discussing liability with the responsible third-party first in this instance.
A spokesperson for Lloyds Home Insurance replies: Before leaving your home, it’s important to make sure that all windows and doors are securely locked to avoid a potential break-in.
Where theft from the home occurs due to negligence from a third party it is important to let the police know and call your insurer to discuss what has happened.
We understand how traumatic a burglary can be and each claim is assessed individually.
This is Money adds: In this situation, it seems that the outcome will depend on your insurer.
When something like this happens, speak to your insurer to see where you stand and whether they would cover you.
Ask whether, if you did make a claim, this would affect your premiums going forward.
Fortunately, you wouldn’t have to worry about paying for any damage or stolen goods at the time if you have a good policy.
In future, it may be wise to insist to be present at your home when an inspection is taking place just for peace of mind.