Almost three quarters of landlords experience escape of water cases in their properties

  • Almost three quarters (73 per cent) of landlords have experienced an escape of water incident in their properties over the last five years.
  • It has cost landlords £458 on average to pay an emergency contractor to deal with the immediate consequences of an escape of water incident.
  • January and February are the peak months for frozen pipes and escape of water claims.
  • Shockingly, just 18 per cent of landlords have specific insurance in place to help them deal quickly with this kind of emergency.


Almost three quarters (73 per cent) of landlords have experienced an escape of water incident in their properties over the last five years, according to new research from Direct Line business insurance.1 On average, landlords that experienced escape of water issues, faced 4.8 cases over the period.

Dealing with these issues hasn’t come cheaply. On average it has cost landlords £458 per incident to pay an emergency plumber to deal with the immediate consequences of an escape of water incident. It can also take time to address the problem, with emergency contractors taking an average of nine hours to arrive at a landlord’s property.

The causes of escape of water are wide-ranging, but surprisingly the study found that DIY mistakes are usually responsible, showing that it’s worth getting the professionals in:  

Table One: Most common causes of escape of water instances – Direct Line business insurance:

Causes of escape of water Percentage of occurrences

DIY mistakes

27 per cent

Appliance defects

26 per cent

Pressure fluctuations

25 per cent

Frozen water pipes

25 per cent

Blocked waste pipes

23 per cent

Not only do escape of water issues hit landlords hard in the pocket, but they can also create tension and even rows between landlords and their tenants.  Four in ten landlords had tenants move out of their rented property permanently after an escape of water, because they were worried it was going to happen again. 

Over a third (35 per cent) of landlords said that it caused an argument with their tenants.  A quarter of (25 per cent) reported that their property was so badly  damaged from the escaped water that not only did their tenants have to move out, but they couldn’t rent out the property for an extended period.

Many landlords are taking steps to minimise the risk of escape of water in their properties. Over a third (34 per cent) are ensuring professional tradespeople carry out work in their properties, while 32 per cent are checking that water pipes are properly insulated to help stop them freezing.  Landlords are also showing tenants where the stopcock is so that they can turn off the mains water supply quickly (31 per cent), while just over a quarter (27 per cent) keep clear records of all work, guarantees/warranties and inspections relating to the plumbing system.

However, less than one in five (18 per cent) have specific insurance in place to help them deal with this kind of emergency quickly, which is worrying as January and February are peak months for frozen water pipes and escape of water claims.2 Just 17 per cent have a specific insurance offering that enables tenants to issue claims on their behalf and sort out the problem quickly.

Jamie Chaplin, Landlord Product Owner at Direct Line business insurance, stated:

“Escape of water is a frequent problem for landlords and can have a significant financial impact, particularly during January and February.

“Although landlords are taking some measures to minimise risks, it’s worrying to see that so few have insurance arrangements in place to help deal with the immediate consequences of escape of water incidents.

“As we head into the coldest months, it’s crucial that landlords think about the risk of escape of water and ensure they’re adequately prepared. It would be worthwhile considering whether they have the appropriate insurance cover if the worst were to happen.”

Direct Line business insurance Landlord Emergency cover helps to offer peace of mind to landlords and tenants across the UK. The cover offers access to a 24-hour claims line which will send out a certified contractor within four hours of an insured emergency being registered to secure or prevent further damage to the property. Contractors covered within four hours include drainage engineers, electricians, glaziers, locksmiths and plumbers. Extreme weather and remote locations may extend response time. Cover can be purchased as an add-on at new business or renewal. Residential properties only. Pest control, roofers, gas and heating engineers and general tradespeople are also covered, but outside of the four-hour response time. 

Landlord Emergency will cover call-out charges, the costs for labour and materials up to £1,500 (inc. VAT) per claim, with policy-holders able to make as many claims as they need.

For further information on Landlord Emergency Cover and terms and conditions, please visit


(1) Opinium survey of 2,000 UK adults, conducted 7th-10th December 2021

o   207 of those surveyed are landlords

(2) Based on Direct Line Landlord Emergency claims data from October 2020 - September 2021

For further information please contact:

Direct Line Group
Unni Henry
Marketing Practitioner  
Email: [email protected]

About Direct Line business insurance

Launched in 2007 Direct Line business insurance now has over half a million customer policies, providing a flexible range of insurance products for the landlord, van and small business sectors.

Direct Line business insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line business insurance and U K Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line business insurance products or get a quote by calling 0345 301 4827 or visiting